The Maryland League of Conservation Voters has rolled out several endorsements of legislative candidates over the past few months.Now, with the primaries just three weeks away, the Maryland LCV Education Fund has issued a manifesto of sorts – a list of environmental issues and priorities that the voters ought to be thinking about as they prepare to head to the polls.Called “Vision 2025,” the 16-page document lays out questions voters ought to be asking legislative candidates about how to improve public health, combat climate change, achieve 100 percent clean energy goals, protect the Chesapeake Bay and other state waters, enact strong environmental regulations, and strengthen voter education to maximize turnout.With the Trump administration and Congress scaling back environmental protections, state LCV leaders believe that Maryland voters must be particularly vigilant and demanding.Karla Raettig“It is our hope that through this issue guide Maryland voters will be prepared with information on environmental and public health issues and ask the candidates running for elected office what their views are on these important topics,” said Karla Raettig, executive director of Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. After the FloodSpeaking of the environment…At their previous TV debate last week, the Democratic candidates for governor were asked about the devastating flood in Ellicott City over Memorial Day weekend – and were given 20 seconds to respond.On Monday, former Obama administration official Krishanti Vignarajah fleshed out her answer considerably. She released a 12-point plan to reduce flooding across the state, and offered suggestions for bolstering Ellicott City.For starters, the candidate quarreled with the notion that the catastrophe – the second “thousand-year flood” in the Howard County community in less than two years – was a natural disaster.“This tragedy was preventable,” she said. “It was the direct result of short-sighted policymaking, and a lack of forward thinking, not natural flooding, that turned Ellicott City’s historic Main Street into a stormwater drain at the expense of local residents, merchants, and Maryland taxpayers.”Vignarajah called for “a thoughtful process to reconceptualize development along Main Street” in the Howard County community; more funding for the restoration of wetlands, forests, vegetated stream buffers and other natural systems for reducing the velocity of floodwaters; expand stormwater infrastructure; incorporate climate resiliency into the planning process, and more.Going to the ChappelleAs candidates gear up for Maryland’s weeklong, pre-primary early voting, which begins June 14, Democratic gubernatorial contender Benjamin T. Jealous is relying on star power to gin up the vote.Jealous’ campaign announced that several of the former NAACP president’s celebrity supporters, led by comedian Dave Chappelle, will be appearing at get-out-the-vote events throughout the state. Chappelle and Jealous, who are childhood friends, will be together Friday afternoon at the Olde Towne Inn in Upper Marlboro, and again Saturday at Morgan State University in Baltimore.Among the other well-known endorsers scheduled to appear, at yet-to-be announced events: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, California Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former Obama administration official and CNN commentator Van Jones, Ben & Jerry’s cofounders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, and top labor leaders.[email protected]
Founding Editor Josh Kurtz is a veteran chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He was an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, for eight years, and for eight years was the editor of E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill. For 6 1/2 years Kurtz wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz regularly gives speeches and appears on TV and radio shows to discuss Maryland politics.