Nov. 7 doesn't have to be just another day to sleep in and wear pajamas in the afternoon. Whether you're a parent, a teacher or a first-time student voter, Silver Chips has compiled profiles of the candidates in local races to help you participate in democracy come Election Day on Nov. 7. If you're too young, don't despair — you can still get involved by volunteering for a candidate you support.
Register to vote
To vote in Montgomery County, you must be 18 years old by Nov. 7, have U.S. citizenship, be a county resident and have no significant criminal history or mental disability.
Voter registration applications can be found at various county sites, including schools, libraries and post offices. An electronic version of the application is also available for download at the Montgomery County Board of Elections web site. To vote in the general election, the Board of Elections must receive the application by Oct. 17. Mail applications to:
Montgomery County Board of Elections
P.O. Box 4333
Rockville, MD 20849-4333
Ben Cardin (D)
As a congressman for the Baltimore area since 1987, Cardin is now a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. He has worked extensively on healthcare and Social Security during his tenure in Congress.
Cardin's campaign stresses affordable healthcare and his opposition to the war in Iraq. "We need a senator who will hold President Bush accountable for leaving 46 million Americans without health insurance," Cardin wrote on his web site. "Unlike my Republican opponent, I've only had one position on Iraq. I voted against the Iraq war before we went in."
Michael Steele (R)
The current lieutenant governor, Steele is the first black politician elected to a statewide office in Maryland. While in office, he has focused on increasing student access to successful schools, reducing crime and improving the state's minority business program.
If elected, Steele promises to suspend the federal gas tax and restore funding for college scholarship programs. "$3-a-gallon gas is a wake-up call that Washington doesn't have an energy plan to lead us to energy independence and efficiency," Steele wrote on his campaign web site.
Martin O'Malley (D)
O'Malley has been the mayor of Baltimore for the past eight years and is running alongside Anthony Brown, a current Maryland General Assembly member, as his lieutenant governor.
According to O'Malley's web site, Baltimore has seen a 40 percent decrease in violent crime and an increase in elementary school performance during his two terms as mayor.
O'Malley accuses incumbent governor Robert Ehrlich of breaking his 2002 campaign promises. "Ehrlich has spent his time in office protecting those who needed his help the least while offering nothing to those who needed his leadership the most," O'Malley said at a campaign rally on June 28.
Robert Ehrlich (R)
As governor, Ehrlich has increased education funding more than any previous Maryland governor and signed the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act to curb nitrogen pollution.
O'Malley distorts Ehrlich's record as governor to distract voters from his own shortcomings in Baltimore, charges Ehrlich's campaign web site. "We've changed Maryland, and there is more to do," he said in a Jan. 28 speech. "Marylanders simply want safer streets, schools that work [and] a cleaner Bay."
Ehrlich has chosen Kristen Cox, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Disabilities, to be his next lieutenant governor.
Isaiah "Ike" Leggett (D)
Leggett has served multiple positions on the County Council, including council president, and is a law professor at Howard University.
Leggett said his experience makes him the best candidate for county executive. "I have a record of achieving results in Montgomery County," he wrote in a letter to supporters. "I led the efforts to reduce class sizes in our public schools, help protect our environment and preserve our green spaces."
Chuck Floyd (R)
Floyd is currently a security and government contracts consultant. His main concerns are development, emergency preparedness and infrastructure.
Floyd believes that the county government is too influenced by developer interests. "I am very concerned about the management and direction of Montgomery County," Floyd wrote on his web site. "The planning and zoning process is not credible and is controlled by the developers."
County Council District 5
Valerie Ervin (D)
A former Blair PTSA co-president, Ervin currently serves on the Montgomery County Board of Education, where she is chairwoman of the Research and Evaluation Committee. She supports alleviating congestion and making housing more affordable.
Her time as a Board member has given her a firm grasp of the issues affecting District 5, she said. "We all want the same things," Ervin wrote in an e-mail. "We want the best education for our children, we want accessible and affordable housing, we want a transportation plan that makes sense."
Dennis Walsh (R)
Walsh owns a restaurant in Bethesda, Flanagan's Irish Pub, and is a high school baseball umpire. His priorities include lowering property tax rates and encouraging more business competition in the county.
The county has not taken steps to relieve traffic congestion, Walsh said. "You shouldn't have to sit in traffic and waste your time every time you drive your car. Commuters shouldn't have to add hours to each workday because they're trapped in gridlock," Walsh wrote on his web site. "Lack of east-west connecters have become a detriment to our quality of life."
The September Democratic Primary had special meaning for sophomore Jumi Bello — all of the candidates she volunteered for won. "I felt so happy that I had helped elect people who will make a difference," Bello said.
Bello volunteered for various political campaigns, focusing on Roger Manno, a candidate for State Delegate in District 19, and Jamie Raskin, a candidate for State Senate in District 20. "I found that politics is one of a few things that can really make a difference," she said.
History teacher George Vlasits first inspired Bello to get involved in politics. "He really let his politics show through, which fit because it was a U.S. History class, and his passion made me interested in getting involved," she said.
In between college applications and a part-time job at Panera Bread in Downtown Silver Spring, senior Willa Reddy volunteered for several local candidates. Reddy worked once a week for three candidates: Heather Mizeur, a candidate for State Delegate in District 20; Valerie Ervin, a candidate for County Council in District 5; and Hugh Bailey, who ran for one of four County Council at-large seats.
Reddy's frustration at the current state of politics motivated her to get involved. "Our government right now is such a disaster. I wanted to do anything I can to change it," she said. Like many other students, Reddy first met all of the candidates she volunteered for when they spoke to different clubs at Blair.
When he became involved in local politics, sophomore Caleb Seavey was continuing a long family tradition of political activism. Inspired by his parents' work on Democratic presidential campaigns, Seavey looked for experienced candidates who shared his progressive values. He found two candidates who he thought deserved his time and energy: Aaron Klein, a candidate for State Delegate in District 20, and Jamie Raskin.
Volunteering was a valuable experience for Seavey. "Being involved taught me a lot about who I am and what my potential is," he said. Seavey is already looking for ways to get involved in Democratic campaigns leading up to the general election in November.
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