2006 Maryland Elections

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Saving Marylands Environment

The 2006 Maryland elections have raised a number of issues that need to be addressed within the state. Most constituents are concerned about the current fiscal and social issues within the state, but what many overlook are the environmental concerns facing Maryland. Maryland is home to the largest bay in the country and with that geographical element comes a lot of responsibility in preserving the Chesapeake and its wetlands.

Recently, Cambridge and Dorchester counties, two of the most rural in the state, have asked for a resort to be built near a wildlife refuge. The resort would hopefully bring in millions of dollars in tax money and attract more people to move back to the eastern shore (Pelton). The Blackwater Wildlife Refuge is currently protected from intense development, but approval of the proposed Blackwater resort would forgo the current law and allow the building of a golf course, neighborhood, hotel, and conference center (Pelton). The development is currently scheduled to be built on farmland that the state has coined as a "resource conservation area" (Pelton). Both counties have called for a meeting of the state's Critical Area Commission to reconsider the current law and allow for the continuation of the development (Pelton).

This issue has raised a growing environmental concern for the state of Maryland and the ongoing gubernatorial election. Current governor Robert Ehrich has okayed the project, stating that it should be a local governmental issue. However, he has recently asked to review the issue and make a final decision. Democratic candidate Martin O'Malley has weighed in on the enviromental issue and feels the development should not continue. O'Malley has announced that he would support state transferred-tax dollars to buy and protect two thirds of the Blackwater wetlands (Pelton).

The 2006 gubernatorial election is crucial to the preservation of not only the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, but also the Chesapeake Bay and the environmental concerns of the state of Maryland. Maryland is blessed with some of the most beautiful landscape in the country and preservation of it should be a priority. I fully support Martin O'Malley's plan to use tax money to purchase and preserve the wetlands threatened. As a citizen of Maryland and one who frequently visits the eastern shore, I would hope the counties affected would realize the importance of Maryland's environment. Most Marylanders appreciate and view the eastern shore an a quiet escape to a growing state and the development of such resorts would greatly affect this idea.

Pelton, Thomas. "Shore Resort Pondered." The Baltimore Sun. 4October 2006. http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/realestate/bal-md.blackwater04oct04,1,5466265.story.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Martin O'Malley for Governor

The 2006 Maryland Elections have had many unexpected turns. First with the loss of Maryland legacy William Donald Schaefer and then with the embarassing machine malfunctions on election day in September. However, Marylanders are still eager to place their vote for their future leaders on November 7 to elect for the next term. At the forefront of this election are two candidates, both well qualified for the position, running for governor. Incumbent Robert Ehlrich and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley will head off during the next few weeks to ensure their place as governor for the upcoming term. As a Maryland resident and registered voter, I have been following both candidates platforms very closely. Overall, I have been very impressed by Martin O'Malley and what he has brought to the city of Baltimore and so I am promoting him for the gubernatorial election.

There's no denying the issues the city of Baltimore faces. Whether it's the high murder rate, drug rate, or the fact that many have been leaving the city for the suburbs, it's evident that Baltimore needs some work (Martin O'Malley). This is exactly what voters were faced with in 1999 when electing a new mayor. Martin O'Malley pledged to clean the city up both economically and socially and that is exactly what he did. Having only served one term, Mayor O'Malley has reserved his place as a strong leader in Maryland.

As mayor, O'Malley has focused on making Baltimore a safer place to live. Poor neighborhoods have been addressed and cleaned up, Baltimore police have been cracking down on crime, especially murder, and BLIEVE signs can be seen all around the city promoting the city's comeback. There's no doubt the city has turned a corner. Overall, crime is down dramtically, leading the nation in violent crime reduction of 40%, and city schools have improved a significant amount with passing test scores (Martin O'Malley).

O'Malley has effectively laid out his plans if elected governor for the 2007-2011 term. His primary concerns focus on keeping Maryland safe by cracking down on violent crime, establishing a firm juvenile justice system, fighting gang violence, and securing stricter penalties for parole violators (Martin O'Malley). He also hopes to improve family life in Maryland by enforcing strict environmental laws, improving the education system, and to provide health care to Maryland families (Martin O'Malley). These accomplishments would meet the demands of Maryland citizens and allow for the state to prosper.

As a follower of O'Malley's career and accomplishments, I wish him the best for the upcoming weeks and the election in November. I can think of no other person more qualified for the position to lead Maryland.

Maryland Democratic Party. Candidate for Governor, Maryland.

Martin O'Malley: A Record of Achievement. Friends of Martin O'Malley. <http://www.martinomalley.com/ .>

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Election Fiasco

As thousands of Maryland residents started to enter balloting places on the morning of September 12, a surprising event unfolded. Many residents were turned away from voting, others waited for hours only to find out they would not be allowed to place their vote, and many encountered difficulty in registering themselves and their vote. After the Florida fiasco during the presidential election in 2000, one may hope that the proficiency of voting in the United States has increased dramtically. However, the recent election malfunction in Maryland proves that balloting still has many more improvements to go.

As more information has become available since the Election Day, many questions have been raised. What happened? Who is to blame? Will this affect the General Elections in November?

In direct relation to the presidential elections of 2000, many states including Maryland have adopted new voting procedures. This past primary election was one of the first times Maryland has implemented these new procedures. Ballots are now cast using an electronic touch-screen voting machine. However, they are not backed by a paper ballot so when a massive failure occurs, like on September 12, election results may not be accurate. Along with the electronic failure of the machines, Maryland experienced a shortage of volunteers and election judges (Marbella). Because of this and the balloting failure, many found the elections to be very unorganized which worries voters for the General Election in November (Marbella). Governor Ehlrich recently called a meeting with the Maryland Board of Public Works to launch an investigation and discuss options for the November elections. He attacked Linda Lamone, chief elections operator of Maryland, and stated that he wanted the General Assembly to convene and officially do-away with the electronic voting machines and replace them with simple paper ballots (Marbella). While this is highly unlikely with the General Elections nearing, it has been highly debated.

As a registered Maryland voter and with the November elections only a few weeks away, I am very worried about the status and legitimacy of this new voting system. I believe that voter's rights should be respected and no one should ever be turned away from the ballot machine. The fact that there weren't enough volunteers, especially election judges, is completely intolerable. I also believe that paper ballots must be used to back up electronic ballot systems. Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland are still counting votes to provide accuracy for the election results which I find to be completely irresponsible. Maryland residents should also feel secure in the conduct of how the elections are run. This is evidentally not true.

Marbella, Jean. "Point is, someone's at fault for voter mess". The Baltimore Sun. 22 September 2006. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-md.marbella22sep22,1,3402255.column

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Farewell to Schaeffer

After over a half century in the political spotlight, it is time to bid a final farewell to William Donald Schaefer. Schaefer, who was recently defeated by Delegate Peter Franchot, has spent much of his fifty four year political career in the spotlight. Most will remember him as the impatient and ridiculous man who made many offensive remarks against gays, immigrants, and even political opponents, but what many forget to mention is the impressive accomplishments he brought to both Baltimore and Maryland.

Schaefer began his political career in 1955 when he was elected to the Baltimore City Council. From here he served four terms as Baltimore's mayor. He went on to govern the state of Maryland from 1987-1995 and finally lost a re-election as the Maryland Comptroller after a two year run (biography).

Schaefer is single-handedly responsible for restoring Baltimore back its previous playful roots. He came to office during a budget crisis in 1971; a time where many middle-class families were leaving the city for the safer and cleaner suburbs (Rodricks). Regardless, he stood virtually alone in the streets of Baltimore, rooting for his city when many simply turned the other way. He set forth his first project of restoring downtown Baltimore (Rodricks). He was responsible for developing the National Aquarium, Camden Yards, and Harborplace (Hancock). He also brought industries and jobs back to Baltimore, and even personally helped his fellow Baltimorians find work in the city. By the end of his four terms, Esquire Magazine had named him one of America's best mayors (Rodricks).

As governor, he came to office in good economic times. He kept the state running and was considered to be a strong governor. His favorite personal accomplishment for the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore was bringing a national football team back to Baltimore, replacing the Colts.

As his second term as governor came to end, his ratings started to slip. It was then when his offensive remarks went public. He once was given the middle finger by a woman passing by in her car. He quickly tracked down her license plate and mailed her a note stating, "Your action only exceeds the ugliness of your face. Have a nice day!" (townhall.com). He even went so far as to comment of his fellow opponent, Janet Owens just a few weeks ago, referring her to "Mother Hubbard" (Vogel). Numerous minority groups have criticized him for comments he has made in the past, but he has only offered one apology. This is also the man that termed gay people as a "danger".

Despite his offensive remarks and low ratings, Schaefer still deserves recoginition for all he brought to Maryland. Because of Schaefer, Baltimore now carries a sense of pride. Everyone from Baltimore knows everyone from Baltimore. People have moved back into the city and was it named one of the top ten travel destinations in the world in 2005. As a lifelong Baltimore resident, owner of Baltimore Ravens and Orioles season tickets, and a lover of Harborplace, I am proud of the city I grew up in and am thankful for all that Schaefer has done for the city. Baltimore is Baltimore because of Schaefer. Thanks hun!

Comptroller of Maryland. William Donald Schaeffer. http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.comp.state.md.us/initiatives/lmedia/comptroller.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.comp.state.md.us/initiatives/whoweare/bio.asp&h=211&w=151&sz=19&hl=en&start=13&tbnid=aQU5sdgwFs2dSM:&tbnh=106&tbnw=76&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dwilliam%2Bdonald%2Bschaeffer%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D

Hancock, Jay. "Scaefer's city legacy is helping it become a model for comeback." The Baltimore Sun. 24 September 2006. http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bal-bz.hancock24sep24,0,588703.column?coll=bal-news-columnists

"Maryland Pol has his last Hurrah". 13 September 2006. http://www.townhall.com/News/NewsArticle.aspx?ContentGuid=291893b8-039e-4b99-a022-a641946a114b

Rodricks, Dan. "Remember 'Old Schaefer for service, compassion". The Baltimore Sun. 14 September 2006. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-md.rodricks14sep14,0,7074561.column?coll=bal-news-columnists

Biography of William Donal Schaefer. 24 September 2006. http://www.comp.state.md.us/main/about_the_comptroller/about_wds/biography.asp

Vogel, Steve. "Owens Assails Schaefer's Remarks". The Washington Post. 6 September 2006. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/05/AR2006090501256_pf.html