Tag Archives: Sheila Hixson

Spare Annapolis D.C. Dysfunction


Today, I am testifying at the House Ways and Mean Committee in favor of a bill sponsored by Chair Sheila Hixson (D-20) and Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-20) to establish a Blue Ribbon Commission on Voting, Openness, Transparency and Equality (VOTE). My opinion piece in today’s Baltimore Sun explains why:

It makes sense to get on the off ramp instead of heading directly into the blockages that plague the federal level. Reforms to the electoral system have the potential to encourage cooperation even as we respect the partisan differences that render our democracy vibrant. Happily, many of these changes can also encourage participation.

Capitol Hill looks like dysfunction junction. Let’s take a look at possible changes that could help prevent Annapolis from following that route.

The Committee for Montgomery, a broad-based alliance of business, labor, education, civic and community-based organizations played a key role in developing the ideas behind this bill.


Hixson Endorses Smith, Moon

The day after Sen. Jamie Raskin endorsed Will Smith and David Moon for delegate, longtime incumbent Del. Sheila Hixson has done the same

Dear Friends

This has been an exciting primary season in District 20 and we have seen a wonderful group of candidates step forward and ask to represent District 20 in Annapolis. Making the decision to run for public office is not easy and I believe it takes personal courage and a great commitment to your community to do so. You open yourself  to the judgment of your fellow citizens as you lay out your vision for the future, and believe me, District 20 is filled with strong, well-articulated opinions on most topics!

I have watched all of the candidates put themselves forward  and express hopes and aspirations for our District, our County, and our State. After attending one of our candidate forums,  a friend from North Carolina said to me, “Heck we would take any one of them!” All the candidates have a lot to proud of, and I am sure all of them will continue to contribute to our community.

But this is politics and difficult choices have to be made. The question for me is which of these excellent candidates best reflect the values and diversity of District 20 and demonstrate an ability to move from being an advocate of a particular view to being a representative of many views?

The two candidates that I feel best meet these qualities and the progressive values and diversity of District 20 are Will Smith and David Moon.   I am proud to endorse them, and as I have learned a thing or two about how Annapolis works, I will proudly serve with them and support them as they learn the ropes of being a State delegate. The District 20 delegation has enjoyed a formidable reputation as a cohesive and very effective legislative team. This effectiveness will continue with Will and David joining Jamie Raskin and me as we continue to fight for what is right and fair.

I have known Will Smith for more than five years now, and I am increasingly impressed by this young man. Born and raised in Silver Spring, the first member of his family to graduate from college, he has a very impressive background as a lawyer and scholar with undergraduate and law degrees from the College of William and Mary and a Masters degree in public policy from Johns Hopkins University.  He continues to serve our country as an officer in the Naval Reserves, and recently served as an appointee in the Obama administration.  But more than that, Will has had “boots on the ground” in our community. Will established the Youth Achieve Scholarship Fund, raising thousands of dollars for scholarships for young people from our community. He is active in GapBuster Learning Center, and is a Board Member for the Gandhi Brigade, IMPACT Silver Spring, and  the NAACP Montgomery County Chapter. Will speaks eloquently about the public policy challenges of our State, from education and solving the achievement gap, to business development and job creation. He has an impressive knowledge of policy details and is an astute analyst of the costs and benefits involved in policy implementation.  I would welcome Will Smith as  a partner on the District 20 team.

David Moon is an intense, accomplished political and community activist. He holds progressive ideals close to his heart and is willing to stand up and fight for his values. As he says, he “is not waiting for Superman”. David is a civil-rights lawyer and an influential activist in issues that impact our community. He has run political campaigns in which he proved to be an adept strategist and master of social media. He has worked on issues such as the Dream Act and voter registration with Casa de Maryland and has developed an expertise in mass transit as Executive Director of Communities in Transit. For several years,  his political blog, Maryland Juice, has been a must-read analysis of political developments in Montgomery County and around the state. He knows District 20 from the ground up.  Now he is ready to take the next step as a member of the House of Delegates in Annapolis representing our wonderful diverse district. I will be very proud to serve with David Moon and Will Smith and I offer them both my heartfelt endorsement.

Delegate Sheila Hixson, D-20
Ways and Means Committee


The Next Chair of Ways and Means

At least one prominent District 20 activist disagrees with my assessment that longtime incumbent Del. Sheila Hixson is a safe bet for reelection. So, apparently, does the Gazette. I still think she’s a lock but I’ve been wrong in the past. So after asking around Annapolis, here’s the shortlist:

  • Anne Kaiser
  • Kumar Barve
  • Bill Frick

If they hadn’t left the House, Brian Feldman and Justin Ross would both be on the list too. Geographic balance suggests that the chair would have to be from Montgomery County–Maryland’s largest jurisdiction and particularly large Democratic delegation can’t be chair-less.

Promoting gender balance in the leadership would favor a woman for the spot. Otherwise, there would be a very non-PC 1-5 gender split and Democrats tend to be especially obsessed with such things. Both of these would favor the smart, hard charging Education Subcommittee Chair Anne Kaiser.

On the other hand,  Revenues Subcommittee Chair Bill Frick is one of the brightest intellects that the House of Delegates has seen in some time. He is also well-liked in Annapolis, although rumor has it his aborted AG Campaign may have rankled some in leadership as well as his District 16 colleagues. Regardless, Frick is an immensely talented politician. If he became Chair, he would become a strong candidate to become Speaker (whenever Mike Busch moves on).

Majority Leader Kumar Barve, who would be first AAPI Committee Chair. However, it would be a somewhat lateral move, as he would have to surrender his spot as Majority Leader. Frick or Kaiser would each have an excellent shot at becoming Majority Leader if Barve took the helm at Ways and Means. But so would John Bohanon or Talmadge Branch.

Am I completely off base? Send questions, comments and complaints to johnga.ems@gmail.com.


A Competitive General in . . District 20?!

No Republicans hold office in Montgomery County at the county, state, or federal levels. However, in the bluest facet of this sapphire, a challenger of some credibility has emerged. In District 20, former Takoma Park City Councilman Dan Robinson has filed to run in the general election on the Green Party line. If there is a legislative district in Maryland where the Green Party is viable, it would be the ultra-progressive district home to nuclear free Granola Park.

How serious a challenger Dan is remains to be seen. Most Green Party targeted campaigns raised $20,000-$30,000. Dan will probably be able to exceed that amount. Like any third party candidate, this is a long shot. But conditions will likely be as good  as ever this November for an Emerald takeover.

Robinson could try to make the case that powerful Ways and Means Chair Sheila Hixson is a tool of a Democratic Leadership that is too moderate for the District 20 electorate.

If Jonathan Shurberg wins the Democratic Primary, Robinson could try to make the race about Shurberg’s ethics issues.

Robinson could attack Will Smith, who is a Homeland Security consultant, on the premise that he’s part of the military industrial complex and therefore not truly progressive.

These issues are typically irrelevant in state legislative elections but Jamie Raskin had some success attacking Ida Ruben over a non-binding resolution regarding the Iraq War in 2006. Robinson would have to make corporate welfare for Lockheed Martin a central issue in this line of attack.

Will Jawando is a corporate lobbyist. Robinson could probably ding him on that but I don’t see how he can turn it into the kill shot he needs in a region almost as full of lobbyists as lawyers.

David Moon, the most progressive candidate in the race, is squeaky clean as far as I can tell. Robinson would be foolish to target him.

Whoever the Democratic nominees are, they will have depleted their resources in the primary. They will also likely take the general election for granted. More than likely they, will have difficulty raising additional funds in the general–most donors will likely choose to devote their resources to tough races in other parts of the state–and I doubt many volunteers will be fired up about knocking doors.

Perhaps Dan Robinson can catch the sleeping giant and become the first Green Party State legislator in Maryland. I don’t expect it to happen. But I wouldn’t be totally surprised if he did.