There are three key issues that Ben Jealous wants the residents of Maryland to know he stands for: education, healthcare, and building a better economy.
“Our focus is on fully funding education, making sure that we have a healthcare system that works better for everyone, and building a more robust economy,” Jealous said during a phone interview last Friday.
Jealous, who represents the Democratic candidate nomination for governor, says he is very focused on speaking to the people who support him and to the rest of the people, who are getting to know him for the first time.
“Healthcare premiums have skyrocketed on Larry Hogan’s watch,” said Jealous, “we have the worst economic growth in the region, Hogan is the first governor in decades to lose a Fortune 500 company, and our schools have fallen from first to sixth [in the country] on his watch,” said Jealous. “Also, there is a need for a governor who will actually stand up to Donald Trump!” he said.
Jealous said he really wants to create a better education and healthcare system, which will help all the state’s families and ultimately lead to a more robust economy. For example, with regard to education, Jealous said he wants to create an education system that will prepare students not just for college but for a career as well.
He explained that not every child wants to attend college, but many who do need a way to support themselves in the meantime. “We have an opportunity to create an education system that prepares every child for a great career, and in the process turns our public schools around,” said Jealous. “It’s less of a case that there are a shortage of jobs for our kids and more of a case that we have a shortage of our kids that we train for the jobs that we have.”
The reason Jealous is such an advocate for bettering the Maryland education system, he explained, is not only because he is a parent to two children attending public schools in Montgomery County. His family, beginning with his grandparents, emphasized how important education was while they were living at the McCulloh Homes housing projects in West Baltimore.
“When the uprising happened in Baltimore, it really forced me to go back to the old mile-marker for my family, which is McCulloh Homes housing projects,” he said. “And standing there in the wake of the uprising, it was very clear that there is an urgent need to ensure that the promise of Maryland is accessible to current and future generations of people.”
Jealous said his concerns aren’t just centered on Baltimore; he plans on tackling areas such as Western Maryland, the Eastern Shore, southern Maryland, and even Montgomery County. Whether it’s leading the campaign to stop the death penalty, helping to pass voting-rights reform, or helping to secure American equality, Jealous says he has always tried to better the state as a whole.
“My track record is helping lead the people of the state to get things done, and that’s what I hope to do as governor,” Jealous said.
When asked how he plans to win the vote of people who have previously voted for his opponent, or are first-time voters, Jealous answer was simple – he described himself as having “the heart of a civil rights leader and the mind of a business person.”
“What I bring to the table is somebody who understands the need for us to create a better Maryland for every family,” he said.
Jealous said what makes his campaign so unique are the ideas he put on the table, such as a focus on public safety, the willingness to find solutions to problems like police killings of unarmed civilians, and the willingness to show how Maryland can become safer by getting more violent people off the street and shrinking the prison system at the same time.
“This campaign is fundamentally about getting our priorities right,” said Jealous, adding that it will help save the state hundreds of millions of dollars a year. He explained that over the last two generations, there has been more and more incarceration and less and less public higher education.
But Jealous said he has a plan: to shrink the prison system to save $660 million dollars a year and put that money toward Maryland’s public education, which will also help the student-debt crisis.
“I spent my life helping people find powerful solutions to tough problems,” he said. “That’s what I’ve done as an organizer, that’s what I’ve done as a civil rights leader, that’s what I do as a businessman, and that’s what I’ll do as governor.”