Anne Arundel Democrats Begin Organizing for 2018

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Chuck Cook speaking at D33 meeting, April 20, 2017. Photo: 33rd Democratic Club.

 By David Boesel

Anne Arundel County Democrats awakened to – rather than from – a nightmare on Nov. 9 of last year. The somnambulism that allowed a local candidate like Michael Peroutka to become a member of the County Council in 2014 has now evaporated, and an invigorated Democratic Party is on the move.

More Democrats than Republicans are registered to vote in our county (42 percent to 36 percent in Nov. 2016), and Anne Arundel voters preferred Clinton to Trump 48 percent to 45 percent. But despite the county’s Democratic tilt, our Executive is a Republican as are four of the seven County Council members. In District 33 (one of seven state legislative districts in the county), all four representatives in the General Assembly are Republicans.

Democrats are aiming to change that equation in 2018 by developing and supporting a strong slate of candidates for state and county offices. On Monday, April 17, the Democratic Club for District 33 hosted a panel of candidates for Senator, Delegate, and four County Council seats at the Severna Park Library. Five of the six candidates were female, reflecting the widespread political mobilization of women that followed Trump’s election. To judge from the seating arrangement at the beginning of the meeting, the organizers expected around 30 people to attend. Instead, more than 60 participated. The candidates will compete for their party’s nomination in the Democratic primaries in June 2018. Here’s a quick rundown:

   Eve Hurwitz is a candidate for the Maryland D33 Senate seat currently held by Ed Reilly. As a Flight Officer in the U.S. Navy (2002-2010), Hurwitz was Mission Commander in the E-2C Hawkeye for combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan. She is currently a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserve, a business owner, Director of March on Maryland, and the Anne Arundel County Organizer for Progressive Maryland. You can get a good idea of her political positions from her Twitter account or website.

Pam Luby of Annapolis is running for one of three Delegate seats currently held by Tony McConkey, Sid Saab, and Michael Malone. With a J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law, Luby worked as a corporate attorney for Thomson/Reuters and Oracle but left to devote more time to public service and advocacy. Among other offices, she is Chair of the Anne Arundel County Commission for Women and board member of both the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women and the 33rd Democratic Club. She is also a graduate of Emerge Maryland, an organization that recruits and trains women to run for office. Her website is here.

Alison Pickard of Millersville is running for the District 2 seat on the County Council (District 2 includes Glen Burnie, Pasadena, Gambrills, and Severn). The incumbent is Council Chair John Grasso of Glen Burnie. Pickard was an AmeriCorps team leader and is currently a member of the county school board and a strong advocate for public education.

Dawn Myers of Arnold aims to unseat Michael Peroutka of Severna Park as the District 5 representative on the council. Peroutka, a controversial ultra-conservative supported by the Tea Party, won the seat in 2014 by 38 votes. Myers has a law degree from Tulane and was a policy analyst for the Maryland House of Delegates. Currently, she is the Director of Business and Finance for the Physics Department at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her website is here.

Deborah Ritchie of Pasadena seeks to represent District 3 (Marley, Green Haven, Fort Smallwood) on the council. The current incumbent is Republican Derek Fink, a restaurant owner in the area. A former president of the Maryland PTA and member of the Anne Arundel County School Board, Ritchie emphasizes the importance of improving public education.

James Kitchin of Crofton is seeking the party’s nomination as the candidate for District 7 (Lothian, Shadyside, Deale).  The seat is currently held by Jerry Walker, an anti-tax Republican. The youngest of the panelists, Kitchin is a Ph.D. student and researcher at UMBC’s School of Public Policy. His presentation was the most focused on specific issues, which he identifies as local quality of life, education, and political voice. His Facebook page is here.

All of the candidates’ views were clearly expressed, and the audience was actively engaged, posing questions, comments, and interchanges with the panelists. After the presentations, many in the audience came forward to volunteer their support for the candidates.

Since the election and the Women’s March, a ferment of protest against Trumpism has been bubbling up in cities, counties, and towns across America. People who have never been involved in politics – especially women – have become active and engaged.  The meeting in the Severna Park Library was one instance of this new activism.

Dave Boesel is a political scientist and activist since the days of the civil rights campaign and the anti-Vietnam War movement.

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