The number of candidates vying for the District 18 House of Delegates seat expanded by one as Jon Cook filed papers to run as a member of the Green Party, giving voters another choice of representation in Annapolis.
Cook, 41, will face incumbent Del. Al Carr (D) and two other Democrats in November’s general election. No Republicans have filed to run for the seat as of Feb. 20. The first-time candidate said his run was born out of the need to build a “counter to the legislative power that the Democrats have in the county.”
“If you compare the guiding principles of the Green Party on social, economic and environmental justice … we’ve given the Democrats ample opportunity to solve some of these issues,” Cook said in a phone interview shortly after his filing. “Now is clearly the time for a third party.”
The Silver Spring resident, who is mounting his first campaign for public office, said he plans to increase school construction, reform tax revenue and improve transportation safety.
“I would love to do whatever I could to increase the [school] budget because we are in desperate need of school space,” the father of two children said. “Many places that have temporary buildings are housing students and it’s been that way for years.”
Cook, who works as a regional manager for a major retail chain, added he would also seek to address issues in the tax burden saying that District 18 residents pay a higher disproportionate property tax compared to the largest corporations in the county.
“Most of the golf courses here on Rockville Pike are nonprofits and are not taxed at all,” he added. “I think that’s something that most voters would be interested to learn and understand why that is.”
District 18, which includes portions of Silver Spring, Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Wheaton, features stretches of Georgia and Connecticut Avenue. Cook said he would also pursue transportation infrastructure changes at major intersections to improve pedestrian safety.
“We have accidents, injuries even fatalities on a regular basis on the corner of Randolph and Viers mill, Randolph and Connecticut, Randolph and Georgia Avenue,” he said.
Cook said his passion for the issue of slavery reparations inspired him to join the Green Party, which he called “the best political option for [reparations] to happen.”
Instead of a financial payment or tax break, Cook, a Howard University graduate, explained he would increase funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and trade schools to provide tuition-free education in exchange for work service in majority black ZIP codes.
“At this point, I would like for it simply to be studied and given the same kind of research and discussion that other issues, which are very important to other constituencies, receive,” he explained. “It is something that has been discussed and advocated for decades and has gone nowhere.”
Tim Willard, who is running for an at-large seat on the County Council, praised Cook’s candidacy.
“He has the experience and the knowledge to bring a working family’s view to Annapolis, something that is sorely needed.” Willard wrote in an email. “He will provide principled leadership for the state.”
Carr said he welcomes Cook to the race.
The district’s other two delegate incumbents, Jeff Waldstreicher and Ana Sol Gutierrez, are running for the state Senate and County Council respectively.