2 More Democrats Join Race to Replace Lafferty

    Two more candidates have expressed interest in replacing state Del. Steven W. Lafferty (D-Baltimore County) when he steps down in September.

    Cheryl Gottlieb, a health care and disability rights activist, said Thursday she will apply for the House seat when Lafferty moves on to take a high-ranking position in Baltimore County government.

    Jessica Klaitman, a social worker and community activist, declared her candidacy two days earlier.

    Gottlieb, 34, works as an advocacy specialist for the Maryland Department of Health’s Developmental Disabilities Administration, where she serves as a troubleshooter for individuals who have trouble accessing the agency’s services. She has also been a research assistant for Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

    As an activist Gottlieb has worked with national groups such as ADAPT and MoveOn, as well as with local grass-roots organizations such as Indivisible Towson, Together We Will — Baltimore Area, the Baltimore County Progressive Democratic Club, and Baltimore Women United, among others. She is a former vice-chair of Disability Rights Maryland’s mental health stakeholder advisory council.

    Gottlieb is touting a five-point plan based on economic, environmental and social justice, “A Blueprint for Healthy Communities,” which includes advocating for new school buildings and Kirwan-recommended community schools, reducing out-of-pocket medical expenses for families, improving Maryland’s minimum wage law so that it is indexed to inflation and addresses tipped workers, and passing further common-sense gun legislation.

    “I’ve spent years demanding my civil rights, as well as helping others demand theirs, and I will use that same passion to protect yours,” Gottlieb said in a statement. “I also believe strongly that legislatures should look like the constituents which they serve.”

    In a Facebook post, Klaitman, 46, said she would work to empower the community if selected to replace Lafferty.

    “I am passionate about:

    – engaging everyone, especially those who are underrepresented in the political and electoral process and educating voters and constituents about issues.

    – coalition building and community organizing around issues that impact families and communities, including education, equal pay, the environment, and community development.

    – making all of us safer through sensible gun violence prevention legislation.

    – addressing the root causes of some of our most egregious problems, like poverty, addiction and more.

    – advocating for those who cannot do so for themselves.

    As delegate, my mission is to listen to the community, collaborate to find solutions, take action, and ask the hard questions to ensure we have a thoughtful process and impactful legislation. I will use my voice to lift up others,” she wrote.

    Gottlieb and Klaitman join Baltimore County Young Democrats President Henry Callegary and education and civic activist Catherine Forbes in the race for the open seat.

    Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) gets to make the appointment, following a recommendation from the Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee.

    All four candidates appeared together at a meeting of the Baltimore County Progressive Democrats in Towson Thursday night.

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    Josh Kurtz
    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.