"People in Edgewood, Harford County and the state of Maryland have to understand the power of the vote. It's not just a right. It's a responsibility."
That was the message guest speaker Charles Lollar delivered to members of the Edgewood Community Council Wednesday evening.
Lollar, who ran for Congress in Maryland's 5th district as the Republican nominee in 2010 and is considering running for governor of Maryland in 2014, was invited to speak at the meeting by the council's chairman, Jansen Robinson. Robinson invited Lollar "to talk to us about the power of the vote and generate excitement about local politics."
"Edgewood increasing its voter registration rates and getting people to participate in the process is one way to get the attention we deserve from our leaders," Robinson said.
Lollar, an African-American, mentioned how the civil rights movement influenced how African-Americans see voting today. In earlier times, Lollar said, voting had nothing to do what politicians were doing with citizens' tax dollars.
"We were voting about civil rights," Lollar said. "When you can't go to a Woolworth's and sit and eat without getting cigarettes burned on your back, don't tell me to vote about dollars."
Lollar said things are different today for African-Americans.
"We shouldn't worry about civil rights anymore; we should already have them," Lollar said. "But we should be asking where our dollar is going."
Lollar said "there are freedoms in this nation that are tied to our right to vote." He then attacked the "Dream Act" question on Maryland's ballot in November that allows undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition at public colleges and universities in the state.
"You shouldn't be giving in-state tuition to non-citizens in a deficit," Lollar said. "[Undocumented immigrants] can't get a job. How are they going to pay this back [in the form of taxes]?"
Lollar also addressed the issue of same-sex marriage, criticizing the Maryland General Assembly's efforts to legalize it.
"To spend 60 days out of 90 to change the definition of marriage is repulsive," Lollar said. "What people do in their personal life is not my business. In my personal opinion, marriage is a biblical term."
"If we take the financial benefits that are tied to government out of marriage, this wouldn't even be an issue," Lollar said.
Lollar stressed a bipartisan approach to politics despite his party affiliation.
"People don't know what party I am. Then they see the 'R' next to my name," Lollar said. "That's why I don't do the partisan thing. I deal with and speak to the issue at hand."
Lollar, a major in the Marine Corps Reserves, left after speaking because of a work engagement at the Pentagon.