Gov Candidates Mix It Up on Amazon

I live tweeted @theseventhstate last night’s excellent Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club Forum held at the Silver Spring Civic Center. Candidates for the gubernatorial nomination agreed on many issues. One where they clashed was the merit of state incentives to woo Amazon.

Candidates Opposed to Amazon Incentives

Businessman Jim Shea called Amazon incentives “a really bad idea” and attacked giving $8.5 billion to the richest man in the world along with recruiting business from other state more generally. Moderator Robert McCartney interjected to laughter, “Careful, he’s my boss.”

Krish Vignarajah was also vehemently against the incentives, and attacked Gov. Larry Hogan for moving on this while letting Baltimore kids freeze during the winter, a comparison she also made at the Takoma Park debate. “This is the insanity of our governor.” As in many answers, Vignarajah combined passion on the issue with a sharp argument.

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous also opposed Amazon incentives. Consistent with his approach on other issues, he staked out the most left-wing position. Jealous not only agreed with other candidates on the need for diversity provisions, he also wants to see labor agreements.

My take: One follow-up question left unasked of Shea, Vignarajah and Jealous is how one could require diversity, labor or other requirements without incentives. Alternatively, is the implicit choice just to let Amazon go elsewhere? If that is the case, would future Amazon employees be better off located in a place without these protections?

Candidates Supportive of Amazon Incentives

Pointing out that Discovery was about to leave two blocks away, Rich Madaleno called Amazon a “game changing investment.” At two-thirds the size of the state government, it would help diversify our economy away from dependence on the federal government. He explained that Amazon only gets $5.5 billion if they spend $140 billion in salaries in our area. Madaleno is proud the General Assembly passed legislation to make sure companies are held accountable on promised diversity and benefits.

County Executive Rushern Baker was candid that Prince George’s had tried to recruit Amazon, explaining that the idea was to build local businesses around it and gain revenue. At the same time, he criticized the Governor for ignoring building business except the FBI and Amazon. This point foreshadowed Alec Ross’ later contention that Larry Hogan would completely ignore the DC suburbs if reelected.

Alec Ross took a somewhat nuanced position. He said that he would’ve negotiated a different deal but hopes Amazon comes here. He cited his running mate’s business, well-regarded Denizens Brewery located nearby in Silver Spring, as an example of a great small business. Ross said we make it too hard for small business in Maryland, and need to think more about how to make Maryland the place businesses grow and prosper. His campaign tweeted an op-ed that Ross wrote on the topic that nicely gives a chance hear these ideas fleshed out.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said he did not submit a bid for Baltimore County because he thought Baltimore City was the best location. Arguing that we need a nominee with a track record of experience, he wants to focus on job skill training to attract businesses and get people jobs.

My take: This is one issue that split the electeds who have had to directly grapple with this issue from first-time candidates (with Ross as somewhat of an exception). Montgomery’s economy sure could use a jump start and Amazon is an unusually big opportunity, so I tend to agree with trying to recruit Amazon. Though not perfect, Maryland’s process was also unusually transparent compared to other jurisdictions and got buy-in from the legislature.

Nevertheless, I understand why opponents don’t like it. Wooing business with money is often a mistake. In particular, football stadiums are a real money loser. I support Del. David Moon’s fine bill to prevent Maryland, Virginia and the District from competing this way.

Note: As I have mentioned repeatedly, I’m a supporter of Rich Madaleno. While it seemed worth mentioning here, I do my best to call them as I see them, and give an honest portrayal of the positions of all candidates here.

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Are Republicans Trying to Help Aruna Miller?

By Adam Pagnucco.

Much has been said about the Maryland Republican Party sending out racist mailers targeting Congressional District 6 candidate Aruna Miller.  The standard interpretation of this seems to be that the GOP sees Miller as a strong candidate and is trying to keep her out of the general election.  Indeed, the Washington Post editorial board made that argument.  But what if the Republicans are actually trying to help Miller instead?

The classic example of intervention in an opposing party’s primary is Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill’s promotion of conservative GOP Representative and eventual opponent Todd Akin.  McCaskill spent $1.7 million on ads accusing Akin of being “too conservative” during his GOP primary, helping boost him past the rest of the field.  And that’s not all – when Akin pulled a successful TV ad in favor of one that flopped, McCaskill schemed to have her pollster contact Akin’s campaign to persuade him to re-run the high-performing ad.  Once Akin won his primary, McCaskill exploited his weaknesses to finish him off and get reelected.

Two “anti-Akin” ads by McCaskill and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Why do we bring this up?  Some of the people who received the GOP mailers were female Democrats, including Miller herself.  A few took to Facebook and Twitter to complain about it.  And if they didn’t get them directly, they may have read about them in publications like the Washington Post, Bethesda Magazine and India West.  How do you think they are going to react when they see a female Democratic candidate getting bashed in racist mail sent by Republicans?  They are going to rally to Miller, of course, and that’s what happened on social media.  Maybe that’s the point.

Miller uses GOP racism to motivate her supporters.

Aruna Miller is doing really well in this campaign.  She is raising lots of money, doing well at forums, attracting great endorsements from the Sierra Club and the teachers and is the most prominent woman running in a primary electorate that is roughly 60% female.  But look at this race from the standpoint of the GOP.  They know David Trone won an absolute majority of the vote in rural Frederick and Carroll Counties in the CD8 primary – the kind of areas that Republicans need to dominate in the sixth district.  They know Trone could spend $10 million in a general election, something no other Democrat can do, and that would free up national Democratic money to go to other Congressional districts around the country.  Most of all, Trone looks more like incumbent Congressman John Delaney than any other candidate – a center-left businessman who says he has created thousands of jobs.  The GOP knows that kind of candidate can win in this district.  Why would they want another one like Delaney?  And if they don’t, why not help a rival win?

Maybe we’re reading too much into this but we don’t think the GOP is stupid.  This kind of tactic can work.  Just ask Claire McCaskill!

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TONIGHT: Live Tweeting Gubernatorial Forum

Tonight, I’m planning to live tweet the Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club gubernatorial forum. It starts at 7PM and will feature all seven of the Democratic candidates.  Below is the information on the forum. It’s at the Silver Spring Civic Center in case you want to attend in person.

My twitter handle is @theseventhstate.

From the Women’s Democratic Club:

Woman’s Democratic Club to Host Public Forum for Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates

The Woman’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County (WDC) is hosting a Forum in Silver Spring on April 24 for Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates in the June 26 primary. Contenders Rushern Baker, Ben Jealous, Kevin Kamenetz, Rich Madaleno, Alec Ross, Jim Shea, and Krish Vignarajah have agreed to participate. Washington Post reporter Ovetta Wiggins, who covers Maryland state politics, will serve as moderator. This timely public educational event represents an excellent opportunity to hear these aspiring governors discuss how and why they think they can defeat Gov. Larry Hogan in the November general election. They will also respond to questions about their priorities and highlight their differences through the lens of policy issues important to women and families.

This forum will begin at 7:00 PM at the Silver Spring Civic Center, 1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring, MD. This is a free event but attendees should register on Eventbrite: https://bit.ly/2tSXpAl.

For more information and to see a complete listing of promotion partners, visit the above link.  Attendees may, when they register, name one important issue they would like to hear the candidates address at the forum; responses will be submitted to event organizers.

The WDC, which has more than 600 members, was established after the 1956 Presidential Election. This event continues the Club’s long-standing tradition of supporting Democratic candidates and keeping voters informed.

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Correction on Earlier Ben Jealous Post

UPDATE: Some of the information in the original version of the previous post wasn’t right. I’ve corrected the table as well as the text, so you can see the difference.

The source of the error is that Ben Jealous did not miss the 2012 and 2014 elections in DC, as he was registered in Maryland, though the DC database records him as not having voted because he had not yet been purged because of the change of address. I discovered the error myself after rereading the post.

My apologies not just to Ben Jealous but to readers for the errors.

Several key facts, however, remain unchanged. Ben Jealous did not register as a Democrat prior to his move to Maryland. He did not vote in a high share of elections, including the previous gubernatorial primary and the historic 2008 presidential election.

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Ben Jealous’ Surprising Voter History

UPDATE: Some of the information in the original version of this post wasn’t right. I’ve corrected the table above as well as the text below, so you can see the difference. (The source of the error is that I counted the elections before he was purged in DC as having been missed, when Jealous had registered in Maryland.) My apologies not just to Ben Jealous but to readers for the errors.

Yesterday, I looked at the voting records of all Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Ben Jealous has been registered to vote in Maryland only since 2012 and I speculated that either he had been voting elsewhere or not at all.

Turns out that Jealous was registered in DC from 2000 through 2010 (he wasn’t purged from the DC rolls until after the 2014 elections) – far longer than he has been registered in Maryland.

Recent Democrat

Jealous became a Democrat only recently. He was registered in DC as an unaffiliated voter:

This choice stands out because, as in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, the closed Democratic primary is the key election in most cases. His decision to register as an independent means that, for example, he could not vote in the 2008 presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Jealous also did not have the opportunity to weigh in on heated contests for mayor and other local offices.

Lackadaisical Voter

For someone who is asking people to vote for him, Jealous missed a lot of elections. When he was registered in DC, Jealous skipped 6 of 14 elections in which he was eligible to vote. (Primaries in which the DC Board of Elections and Ethics says he was ineligible are excluded. There must have been nonpartisan offices or questions on the primary elections listed here.)

As reported yesterday, he also missed two of the six elections while registered in Maryland, so he has voted in 12 of 20 elections since 2000.

Missed Historic Votes

Among the 43% 56% of DC elections that Jealous skipped were some important contests. He didn’t vote in the historic election of Barack Obama as our first African-American president, probably unusual in a former NAACP President! He also did not vote in 2012, when he was reelected even more handily. (Folks, this is incorrect, he voted in that election in Maryland).

Jealous also missed out on the vote on to legalize marijuana in 2014.

At the local level, the 2013 special election to fill a Council vacancy, the DC equivalent of our state legislature, was an exciting contest and far from a foregone conclusion. (Also wrong, he voted in Maryland that year, as my chart from yesterday shows.)

Finally, as mentioned yesterday, he has never voted in a Maryland gubernatorial primary. The first Democratic primary vote he casts for governor will be for himself.

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We Get Phone Calls

By Adam Pagnucco.

Sometimes your author gets phone calls like this.

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Politician X:  Hey Pagnucco!  How’s the kid?  How’s business?

Me:  Well, I –

Politician X:  Great to hear it.  I got something you need to write about RIGHT NOW.

Politician X then tells a story about Politician Y.  On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 equal to felonious behavior and/or rooting for the Dallas Cowboys and 1 equal to peeing in the shower, this is a 2.5.  Nothing illegal here, but there might be some questionable judgment IF it’s true.  As background, Y is not running against X, but Y has endorsed one of X’s opponents.  X also heard a rumor years ago that Y told someone X is a conniving politician.

Me:  OK.  Do you have any proof that Y did that?

Politician X:  No.  But you know it’s gotta be true!  Remember when Y did that other thing?

X retells another story about Y from a while back that was never verified.  That one might have been a 3.5 IF it ever happened.

Me:  Are there any documents?  Any links?  (The allegation does not involve anything easily verified like a vote on legislation, a campaign contribution or a screenshot.)

Politician X:  I don’t know.  Maybe you can find something.  Ask Politician Y.  Maybe he’ll be stupid enough to admit it!

Me:  Um, OK… Lemme think about whether this is provable, and if so, how.  In the meantime, if you believe it’s true and you can back it up, say it on Facebook.  Then maybe it will be covered.  At least it will be discussed, and if there’s anything there, it might come out.

Politician X:  I can’t do that!  I’m running for office.  If I say that, Y’s supporters will come after me.  That’s why we have blogs.  You guys will say anything!

Me: … … …

Politician X:  I’ll check back later to see how that story is coming along.

*****

Look folks.  We like investigating allegations, but there has to be something to them.  If you’re going to tell us something, be ready to 1. supply evidence or 2. go on the record.  We’re not gonna print unfounded speculation on your behalf just so you can get someone else to say something YOU want to say but won’t.  We’re not the New York Times, but there are such things as libel laws.  If you want to libel someone, do it yourself!

If you are thinking of making a call like the one made by Politician X above, don’t bother.  And Politician X, if you are reading this – and we know you will! – the next time you make a call like this we are gonna print your name.  Believe that!

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Joy Nurmi: Meitiv Flunks Science Test

By Joy Nurmi.

Danielle Meitiv frequently reminds us that she is a scientist. Then one should wonder why, when she accuses our County Executive of failing to endorse women candidates, she fails at one of science’s most basic tenets – sample size and probability of drawing a false‐positive conclusion when the sample is too small.

According to one of the country’s top science organizations – the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – sample size is important. In the NIH publication, “How sample size influences research outcomes,” NIH says: using a sample smaller than the ideal increases the chance of assuming as true a false premise.

So when Ms. Meitiv draws the conclusion that our County Executive is not interested in gender balance because of his endorsements in the Council at-large race, one might ask about how Mr. Leggett’s track record stacks up in a larger sample size. For example, when one looks at all the candidates he has endorsed in the current election, one sees that it includes four women: Aruna Miller, Lily Qi, Charlotte Crutchfield and Rebecca Smondrowski. Interestingly enough, that equals 50% of his total endorsements. And with his endorsement of Aruna Miller, he was out up front and early when many were hanging back.

Look carefully at Mr. Leggett’s endorsements. They are not only gender balanced, but they are rich in diversity as well. It is important to note that this County has never elected any Latino or Asian for an at-large seat. And, Mr. Leggett is the only African American ever elected to an at-large office.

Where has Ms. Meitiv been in furthering this goal of diversity, correcting these deficiencies? She criticizes Mr. Leggett only because it benefits her as a candidate. It gets her publicity.

Look also at the top tier of management in County government appointed by Mr. Leggett. Twenty-two of the 44 top managers/directors are women. Again, 50%.

He has been highly successful in advocating for gender balance and diversity on a number of fronts. He has advocated with our governors for a more diverse judiciary, including recommending many women for judgeships, who have since been appointed. He has endorsed many women for elected office in the past. The examples are too numerous to list. In fact, you will not find any leader anywhere who has such a track record of fostering diversity and gender balance in so many facets of public life to equal Mr. Leggett’s.

It is truly unfortunate that Ms. Meitiv lashed out without facts, and as a result, failed this science test.

Joy Nurmi is a Special Assistant to County Executive Ike Leggett and a former Chief of Staff at the County Council.

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Who Voted – and who Didn’t – in Maryland?

The participation of the seven Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Maryland elections varies widely. The table at the top of the post reveals not just whether but also how each voted since 1994, a period that includes 12 primary and general elections apiece with the number also evenly split between presidential and gubernatorial election years.

Rushern Baker, Kevin Kamenetz and Rich Madaleno

The three officials who currently hold elective office – Rushern Baker, Kevin Kamenetz and Rich Madaleno – have voted in every one of the 24 elections.

Krish Vignarajah

Despite registering to vote in Maryland in 2006, Krish Vignarajah has voted just once in Maryland. In 2016, she voted in the general after skipping the primary. She registered to vote in D.C. in 2010 and participated in four elections there from 2010 through 2014.

In order to remain eligible to run for governor, Vignarajah claims incredibly that she remained a legally registered voter in Maryland. Even as she cast ballots elsewhere and claimed a D.C. address on her voter registration application, she was never purged from the rolls in Maryland.

This presents a series of real problems for Vignarajah. To put it bluntly, if she really lived in Maryland all the time and her D.C. apartment was just a “crash pad” as she now says, why did she fraudulently claim that she lived in D.C. on her 2010 voter application? Alternatively, if she was honest on her application, how can she claim that she has always maintained her Maryland residency?

Additionally, if she was always a Maryland resident, why didn’t she just vote here? She says voting in D.C. was just a matter of convenience because she was so busy at her job working for Michelle Obama. But many other busy people manage to apply for absentee ballots and they’re not all Marshall Scholars who made law review at Yale. Why couldn’t she do the same? It doesn’t exactly exude commitment to the State.

Moreover, how can one be legally registered to vote in two places at the same time? Just because she wasn’t purged from the rolls, as she should have been after she registered in D.C., doesn’t mean that she remained someone who could legally cast a ballot here.

I’ve had personal experience with this issue. When I moved back to Maryland twenty years ago after four years teaching in South Carolina, I discovered I was still on the rolls. I had registered and voted in South Carolina but, until I moved back to Maryland, I didn’t have illusions that I could vote here or was still a resident despite frequent visits.

Vignarajah could advance her residency claim if she would release her tax returns. She already refused to answer where she filed when Tom Sherwood asked on WAMU. As he pointed out, that really answers it anyway. One imagines that Vignarajah would have said that she had filed in Maryland if she had done so.

We’ll get a chance to know for sure when Vignarajah releases her tax returns. Her campaign told the Baltimore Sun that she’d release her returns “if others do.” Jealous, Ross, Shea have said they will, and Madaleno has already done so,. Hopefully, we will know soon if she filed in the District or Maryland or both, assuming that this is not a Trump promise, which is an oxymoron.

Ben Jealous

Unlike Vignarah, Ben Jealous is unquestionably eligible to run. However, he has only voted four times in Maryland since 1994, which surprised me as his online bio certainly gives the appearance that he spent most of his life in Maryland.

His voter participation record suggests otherwise. Jealous first registered to vote in Maryland in 2012. Though he has participated in all general elections, he skipped both the 2012 and 2014 Democratic primaries. When Jealous casts his ballot in 2018, presumably for himself, it will be the first time that he has ever voted in a Maryland gubernatorial primary – something he has in common with Vignarajah!

Either Jealous has been voting elsewhere or not at all.

Jim Shea and Alec Ross

Jim Shea voted in all general elections but missed 5 of the 12 primaries, with four of the five that he missed occurring in presidential election years. None of these four primaries had a hotly contested presidential or senatorial primary.

Alec Ross did not vote in 7 of the 24 elections. Ross took a pass on his first opportunity to vote in 1994, but he would have just moved to Baltimore in the summer before the primary. However, he also missed both the primary and general in his second statewide elections. More recently, Ross skipped the 2010 and 2012 primaries.

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Female Candidates Accuse Leggett of Sexism

By Adam Pagnucco.

County Executive Ike Leggett’s decision to endorse four men in the Council At-Large race – incumbent Hans Riemer, Gabe Albornoz, Hoan Dang and Will Jawando – has provoked public accusations of sexism from two women who are running for office.

Council At-Large candidate Danielle Meitiv kicked things off on Facebook minutes after Leggett’s endorsement of Jawando was announced, writing, “Nice how our County Exec doesn’t think we need any women on the Council at large.”

District 18 Delegate candidate Mila Johns followed up, directly accusing Leggett of “sexism, pure and simple,” and eventually shared Meitiv’s post on her own page.

Council Member Nancy Floreen also weighed in on this, although somewhat indirectly.

The sentiment expressed by Meitiv and Johns is shared by other women running for office.  Several of them blasted Leggett to your author in scathing terms but would not go on the record.  That makes sense – most politicians want to avoid public disputes with a sitting County Executive at election time.  One candidate who was willing to comment on the record was Brandy Brooks, who is running for Council At-Large and co-wrote an essay about gender parity in politics with Meitiv.  Brooks told us:

For many, 2018 could be the year for women, people of color, and working people, but not if we aren’t actively changing our political system both internally and externally. Maryland has one of the worst records in the country on gender parity: we rank 38th on the gender parity index with a score of 12.1 (down from 21.2 in 2014) with few women in federal, state, or local office. To be clear, the four men who have been endorsed by the county executive are qualified candidates — that is not the question. However, not endorsing a single woman running at-large sends the wrong message about how our political and elected leaders view gender parity. Some will argue that more of the women running should have sought the endorsement. Unfortunately, this view continues to fault women instead of asking why our leaders aren’t being intentional to seek women to endorse as well. It continues a pattern that leaves many on the margins. Thankfully, there are many strong women candidates running for office in 2018 to change this status quo, and I’m excited to be one of them.

If Leggett’s choices win, it’s possible that the council might have just one female member in its next term: District 4 incumbent Nancy Navarro.  Since its current structure was established in 1990, the nine-member council has never had fewer than two female members and has sometimes had three or more.  Additionally, the issue of how women are treated in politics has erupted in Annapolis as the General Assembly grappled about how to deal with harassment in its most recent session.  One at-large candidate (Delegate Charles Barkley) has even been accused of inappropriate behavior with women.

Riemer, Albornoz, Dang and Jawando are not unusual choices for Leggett.  The Executive has had a cordial relationship with Riemer during their time in office together.  Albornoz is widely regarded as one of his best department directors.  Dang and Jawando are solid candidates and both would bring assets to the council if elected.  But surely Leggett and his team should have expected pushback on this in the wake of his criticism of the District 39 state legislators for accepting Lesley Lopez on their slate, a dispute in which gender was raised as an issue.

In Leggett’s defense, he has filled his administration with strong and competent women, including but not limited to Department of Permitting Services Director Diane Schwartz-Jones, Office of Management and Budget Director Jennifer Hughes, Health and Human Services Director Uma Ahluwalia, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Lily Qi, former libraries director Parker Hamilton and Special Assistant Joy Nurmi.  (Some of these ladies have left multiple boot prints on your author’s rear end!)  Leggett’s wife, Catherine, is an admired player in county politics who chairs the Executive’s Ball and raises money for the arts.  We are sure that Leggett’s MANY female supporters will step up in his defense should they deem this criticism worthy of response.

So who’s right?  That’s for you, the readers, to decide.

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Leggett Endorses Jawando

County Executive Ike Leggett has endorsed Council At-Large candidate Will Jawando.  The Executive has previously endorsed Gabe Albornoz (his Recreation Director), Hoan Dang and incumbent Hans Riemer in the race.  We reprint Jawando’s press release below.

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April 18, 2018

Inquiries: info@willjawando.com

County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett Endorses Jawando

ROCKVILLE, Md. – In a statement released today, Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett endorsed Will Jawando in his race for County Council At-Large, noting Jawando’s record of public service and progressive leadership.

“I am honored to endorse Will Jawando for County Council At-Large. Will is an exceptional leader with a lifelong record of public service to Montgomery County and the nation. He worked as a public policy attorney on Capitol Hill and for President Obama in the White House. I was proud to appoint Will to serve on the Montgomery County Commission on Juvenile Justice, and worked with him to provide support for Summer R.I.S.E, a summer career internship program for high school students that he spearheaded,” Leggett said. “As an active, progressive community leader, Will understands the needs of Montgomery County and is committed to making our outstanding county even greater. I’m voting for Will, and respectfully urge you to join me in electing him to the County Council.”

If Jawando wins his contest, he will be only the second person of color to be elected to a county-wide office in Montgomery County. Leggett was the first, and only to date. Jawando recognized that when he welcomed Leggett’s endorsement.

“I’m privileged to earn Ike’s support, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to continue his legacy of public service in Montgomery County,” Jawando said. “We’ve worked together on closing the opportunity-and-achievement gap in our public schools, addressing issues of juvenile justice, and engaging our underrepresented communities in the civic process. I’m dedicated to addressing those issues that matter most to our families — our schools, fair and affordable housing, reliable transit and jobs. That’s the promise of Montgomery County.”

Aside from creating and managing the first year of Summer R.I.S.E., and his work on the Montgomery County Commission on Juvenile Justice, Jawando co-chairs the African-American Student Achievement Action Group, and created a community-based non-profit called Our Voices Matter, which works with underrepresented populations to increase civic engagement, voter registration and leadership training.

To learn more about the Montgomery County Promise, please visit www.willjawando.com.

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