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Friday, March 14, 2014

MEET THE CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND

    I attended a forum last night in Anne Arundel County for candidates who are running for governor of the state of Maryland. I am writing strictly for the voter who may not have the time or opportunity to attend a forum where they can meet the candidates. I want to provide not only their answers to the questions, but I also provide some video and personal opinion to give a feel for the candidate and his character.
    The forum was organized by two Republican clubs, two ladies Republican clubs, and the AA County Republican Central Committee. It was very nicely planned and well attended. There were around 20 elected officials present and welcomed from the podium, and I'd estimate about 150 in attendance. The candidates that participated were: Charles Lollar, Ron George, David Craig, and Brian Vaeth. Larry Hogan had declined the invitation.
    I can't say that I personally learned anything new about the candidates as far as where they stand on the issues, with the exception of Vaeth whom I have never before seen or even read anything about his campaign. I did find myself with different or evolving impressions about some of these candidates than what I had previously.  Ron George presents very knowledgeable about the nuts and bolts of all of the major issues, which shouldn't surprise me since he already serves as a state delegate. George seemed to know the story behind the story on every topic. I was aware of David Craig's extensive experience, but I didn't know he had such an easy going personality. When I first saw him many months ago in Hagerstown he seemed rather stodgy and stiff, but last night he was relaxed and confident and even humorous at times. Lollar is consistent in presentation every time that I've seen him speak. He is confident, intelligent, and ready to share his vision. Vaeth is the un-politician, somewhat unpolished and at times inappropriate and provided the audience a lot of comic relief. Larry Hogan had declined the invitation, and I am hearing a lot of chatter about it. People are starting to take offense and think that he may be over confident about his following and their votes.
    The forum began with 1.5 minutes each for an opening statement. I have posted them on YouTube at http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=G8TR7r39uqc. This was followed by moderated Q&A with each candidate getting equal time to answer. The questions were almost too wordy to understand, so I will do my best to paraphrase and make them more concise. It was no surprise that the candidates' answers seemed all over the board and off topic at times. For instance, the first question was primarily about the minimum wage increase, and was probably the most straightforward of questions, but the candidates were mostly off topic.

Question 1-  What are your thoughts on the minimum wage increase?

George:   He talked about himself as a business owner, why he first became involved in politics, and then stated that he wants to lower income taxes by 10% immediately and retroactively.
Lollar:  He talked about the low quality of life in this state and that increasing the minimum wage will not make it better, but could in fact make it worse because of the loss of jobs. He said that he would start by eradicating the 80 new taxes passed by this current administration. He talked about the bait and switch use of taxpayer money, and that he would eliminate the income tax. He has worked with Arthur Lambert to develop a 5-year phase out plan, and then he finished his answer with a promise for transparency.
Vaeth:  He talked about renewable energy, in particular solar energy, as a solution to the state's economic woes, saying it would create jobs and give people who don't want to go to college usable skills with which to make a living. He then talked about making people pay the taxes that they owe and cracking down on truckers to make them pay for road maintenance.
Craig:  He started out asking, How many of you had a 30% raise this year? I am assuming he was referring to the large increase in the minimum wage, and he did get a few laughs from the audience. He then said that the average person on minimum wage are approximately age 24 or younger and they are working a temporary job not meant to be a career.
 
Question 2-  What are your thoughts on the Rain Tax?

Lollar:  He would repeal it. He thinks that Marylanders need to be educated on the facts about what is actually polluting the bay.  Just because something sounds right they line up behind it. He claimed that the Susquehanna River is the source of pollution to the bay, and that Maryland does not add to it. Vaeth: He  believes that we need to fight all federal mandates on our state. He is against fracking near the bay, and that we should begin manufacturing hemp products.
Craig:  He would repeal it. He said that he had fought against it since it was first mentioned two years ago. He warned us to watch for a Trash Tax sometime in the next two years.
George:  He fought against it since he first heard about it and before it was even proposed. He said it was passed without even going to committee and that he voted against it on the floor.
 
Question 3-  What are your thoughts on the business climate in the state, and what would you do to improve it?

Vaeth: He would work with businesses on an case-by-case basis finding their particular challenges. He would have also have an individualized tax plan for each business because one size doesn't fit all. He again reiterated that he would attract businesses through new energy programs.
Craig: He believes that the income tax is the tax that most affects small businesses because small business owners usually file their business taxes with their personal income taxes. He would phase out income tax over 5 years and pay for it by asking every department head in his administration to cut their budgets 3% a year for 3 years.
George:  Referenced a 10-point promise that can be found on his website. He would cut income tax 10% immediately and it would be retroactive. This would give people more discretionary money to spend and it would help the economy.
Lollar: Stated he has travelled all over the state to talk about this issue. He talked to the watermen on the Eastern Shore, talked about opening up fracking to those in Western Maryland, and  learned that Carroll County was most concerned about the minimum wage increase. He intends to offer a "real" Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.
   
Question 4-  What would you do about Obamacare and the delays that have cost the state $30.5M in the first year?

Craig: He would apply the 10th Amendment of the Constitution for states rights. He said Obamacare is unaffordable and inaccessible. He claimed that doctors and hospitals are cutting services because of this law and it will increasingly affect accessibility of healthcare.
George: He believes that contracts for the implementation of Obamacare in this state have been tied to donations and fundraising opportunities. He made a strong statement that he would not listen to the Feds on this or on Common Core.
Lollar:  Obamacare cannot work in the state or in the nation. He will not submit to the mandate and would instead develop private healthcare exchanges like some that have already developed in other states. He said that it is important to be able to balance the budget so that we can stand up to the Feds. When we depend on $9.3B from the Feds in our budget, we can't take a stand. 
Vaeth: Believes that accountability is needed most because he thinks it is a kickback scheme. He said that we need to go after the website developer to get our money back. He believes we need to take care of veteran's healthcare first.

Question 5: What is your view on Common Core, and should AA County switch to an appointed or elected School Board?

George: Stated that there have been five bills on Common Core. The first two were OK, but when they began to try to mandate it I began to fight it. He would restore parental rights, protect privacy, and take the control from the Feds and give it to the local school boards.
Lollar:  He is against Common Core and would provide the alternative of school choice. Parent's tax money would follow the child to whatever school they choose, public or private. The state and the Feds should have no say. He would increase standards by increasing choices.
Vaeth:  Common Core is yet another corporate kickback scheme. He named the Gates Foundation as a participant. He wondered if there were any teachers consulted in developing it. He is against the distribution of tablets to the children, saying that the information on the tablets can be modified without notice, while a book cannot.
Craig: He called upon his 15 years as a teacher and school administrator. He said it is about common sense. Politicians should not be making these decisions, and that only the teachers and the parents should have control of education. He thinks that Common Core is another 10th Amendment issue.
   
Question 6- Do you think teacher performance should be tied to test scores? 

Lollar: Stated that measuring teacher performance in this way will lead to teaching students to a test and that this should be avoided.
Vaeth: Believes that you can't base teacher performance on a failed curriculum. He also shared that he was a bad student and would not want a teacher to have to pay in some way for his refusal to learn. He thinks that teachers should be assessed by other teachers.
Craig:  It would not be appropriate for teachers or students, and he also believed that it would lead to teaching to a test. He thinks that this should be between the teachers and the school administrators.  George:  Introduced his running mate as a teacher. He said that he homeschooled his children. He believes in school choice. Not sure if he answered the question.
 
Question 7- Can you name one thing positive that this administration has done in the last 8 years?

Vaeth:  Nope.
Craig: He [Martin O'Malley] plays guitar well.
George: He does not agree with one thing. He said that Brown is an empty suit who still has not presented an economic plan, and that the state has been completely mismanaged.
Lollar: There were some good intentions, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
 
Question 8- What can you do to increase voter confidence? 

Craig: Stated that he has a history of restoring confidence when he served on city council, as mayor, and now as county executive. He has an open door policy, and supports hiring an independent auditor giving them free reign to audit anything.
George:  The problem is that the government doesn't trust you! They don't trust you with the 2nd Amendment or to run your business. He will build trust by trusting the people first.
Lollar:  He will build trust by limiting the size of government without  cutting essential services. He will guarantee a Tax Payer's Bill of Rights. He is profit-minded, so he plans to not only balance the budget but make money and return it to the people. He will avoid partisan politics, and bring Maryland together to find solutions regardless of party.
Vaeth: Vote for Bongino. He said he would get the DOJ to investigate everybody. He would especially look into all of the money for consultants and reports.
 
Question 9- The day after the primary, how will you reach out to voters in the larger areas [Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince Georges County]?

Lollar:  Stated that his business is in PG County, and that he already has Democrats for Lollar groups in all four [not sure where the 4th is located] major areas.
Vaeth: Take away their pensions. I will tell them that I will protect entitlements and then I won't. I will trick them like they tricked us. They took our pensions.
Craig:  Stated that he has won over Democrats several times in his career when he won elections from long-term Democrats. He lamented that too many Republicans stay home and do not vote.  George:  I either failed to note his response or he was passed over. I am sorry if it was my mistake.
 
Question 10- If you caught your child with drugs, would you call the police? 

Lollar:  She would wish that I'd call the police! He added that he felt it would be his responsibility to deal with it as her parent.
Vaeth: I don't have children, but I think it should be handled by the parents.
Craig:  Stated that his children are successful adults, but he thinks that it is a matter for the parents.
George: It would be my responsibility as a parent.
 
    The candidates were given equal time for closing statements. I posted a video on YouTube at
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KqoAB_KEGNo.
 
























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