Del. Heather Mizeur made a strong impression as the gubernatorial candidate introduced herself to a packed room in the basement of the Bloomsbury Community Center in Catonsville Monday night.
"She answered the questions very forthrightly and got a very positive response from the membership, at least from what I could tell," said Mark Weaver, president of the Southwest Baltimore County Democratic Club that hosted the Montgomery County Democrat. "I think most people were very impressed."
Mizeur was the third gubernatorial Democratic candidate running for governor to speak before the club, following Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler.
She is the only Democratic candidate to use the public financing option in the race, which sets a limit on campaign spending of up to $2.5 million.
"It's because I want the corporate interests out of politics," Mizeur told the group of about 60 people. "Special interests shouldn't have the seat at the table. It should be the voters."
In a January campaign finance report, the Mizeur campaign had about $$490,181.75 in cash on hand, while Gansler reported $6.3 million and Brown had $7 million.
Mizeur, who has run to the left of the other candidates, has rolled out plans to raise the minimum wage which would be indexed for inflation; expand pre-k access and child care to all Marylanders; legalize marijuana and support a public campaign financing system.
Mizeur touted an endorsement from the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club, an environmental group, which impressed Catonsville resident Sidney Turner.
"She has a strong environmental record," Turner said.
Mizeur expressed her opposition to hydraulic fracturing or "fracking", a way of extracting natural gas by drilling horizontally into rock and injecting highly pressured fluid into the ground to fracture shale rocks. Those who oppose the process say it can release chemicals that contaminate the environment and drinking water.
"Second chances are really expensive when we're talking about our precious natural resources," Mizeur said. "I made sure that we put a moratorium in place to have a commission study what the impacts will be on the climate, on health, on the local economy before we ever make a decision on whether or not to drill."
Mizeur said she supports alternative energy options such as offshore wind, which she sees as an opportunity for job creation.
"Maryland has an opportunity to be a manufacturing hub for all of these offshore wind parts and manufacturing," Mizeur said.
She also expressed her opposition to a plan to build a liquefied natural gas export facility at Cove Point in Charles County, which has garnered support from numerous political figures in the state, including Democratic U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking member of the House Democratic leadership as House Democratic Whip.
"I'm the only candidate that has come out with an unequivocal position against that," Mizeur said.
Michelle Abrams, of Catonsville, who has seen all three candidates speak before the club, said she was "inspired" by Mizeur.
"I was excited about her depth in the coverage of the issues, and I'm impressed that she's so candid about hot button issues," Abrams said.
Margaret Henn, vice president of the club, said she leans to the left and agreed with Mizeur on most issues.
"She's bringing a new perspective and an open mind, a willingness to work with others, and not just have the shouting matches," Henn said.
Henn said she appreciated Mizeur's candor with voters.
"She's not afraid to say what she thinks and why she thinks it and what she's going to accomplish," Henn said.
Many club members, including Weaver, a Catonsville resident, said they were impressed with Mizeur's responses to questions on a range of issues, from wind energy to healthcare.
Weaver said the group tends to lean to the left on issues.
"We are the Democratic wing of the Democratic party," Weaver said.
The primary election will be held June 24.
Michael Dresser of the Baltimore Sun contributed to this story.