'Hogan Team' and newcomers vie for Md. House of Delegates seats at Carroll forum

From left, Carroll County Times Editor Wayne Carter moderated Wednesday night's District 5 forum at the Community Media Center in Westminster with Republicans David Ellin, Susan Krebs, April Rose, Democrat Emily Shank and Republican Haven Shoemaker.
From left, Carroll County Times Editor Wayne Carter moderated Wednesday night's District 5 forum at the Community Media Center in Westminster with Republicans David Ellin, Susan Krebs, April Rose, Democrat Emily Shank and Republican Haven Shoemaker. (Courtesy photo)

All three District 5 Maryland House of Delegates incumbents vied for Carroll County’s support for re-election as a team Wednesday night, against two newcomers who said they hope to shake things up in Annapolis.

The panel forum — hosted by the Community Media Center in Westminster and moderated by Carroll County Times Editor Wayne Carter — gave the delegates the opportunity to delve into controversial topics and share what their plans would be if Carroll County residents voted for them to represent District 5 in the state’s capital.


Republican Dels. Susan Krebs, April Rose and Haven Shoemaker are running for re-election as the District 5 “Hogan Team,” and Republican David Ellin, an attorney and former felony narcotics prosecutor, is running on his own.

The only Democrat in the race for District 5 is Emily Shank, an attorney and activist.


“We’ve cut taxes, fees and tolls,” said Krebs in her opening remarks, “and eliminated hundreds of unnecessary regulations, and empowered businesses to create jobs for our citizens. Maryland is now open for business.”

She said, “Maryland has enjoyed one of the best economic recoveries in the country, from 49th to seventh, with more than 100,000 new jobs.”

Krebs credits Gov. Larry Hogan’s leadership for Maryland’s economic growth, and said that as the team endorsed by Hogan, she wants to continue making positive change with Rose and Shoemaker.

Ellin, however, said re-electing the incumbents was a bad idea unless residents wanted run-of-the-mill career politicians in Annapolis.

“I’m a small-business owner,” he said. “I know how to get things done and I know how to get results. ... That’s the mindset I will have when I go down to Annapolis.

“I think we need fresh blood in Annapolis,” said Ellin. “There’s been talk of draining the swamp down in Washington, and I think that needs to be done in Annapolis as well.”

As the lone Democrat, Shank said she did not want to be seen as just another number. She said she wants to represent Carroll County and the people who live there, not solely to make party-influenced decisions to push a liberal agenda.

“I'd ask voters not to assume all Maryland Democrats are the same because, of course, we’re not,” she said. “And just like Republicans don't always vote exactly the same, Democrats are not [all] the same way.

“Annapolis has become a political machine and the last thing I will be is another cog in that machine,” she said. “It’s not about ‘We need fewer Democrats or fewer Republicans.’ We need people who will take a stand and be accountable to their community.”

Among the issues discussed were funding for education.

All candidates agreed that education in Carroll County is important and the formula used to fund the schools — one based on enrollment numbers and the county’s wealth — needs to be reassessed.

How the schools should use that funding is also key, said Rose.


“We really need to look at workforce development and what can we teach our students that will allow them to have successful careers and move forward [after high school],” she said. “I want to make sure our kids are learning computer science and computer programming, [and we are] putting money into tech centers.”

According to Krebs, Baltimore city receives some of the most school funding compared to other school systems across the nation, but by third grade only about 11 percent of students are on the proper reading level — a key indicator of student success, she said.

Maryland’s Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, also known as the Kirwan Commission, was organized in 2016 to determine how to give the state’s children the best education possible.

Shoemaker said, from what he has seen, the commission has spent too much of its time comparing Maryland schools to those internationally, and not enough time encouraging the change it was created to make.

“It’s certainly been a fact we have been disadvantaged in Carroll County by virtue of the fact that we have declining enrollment while our costs remain fixed and we suffer under the wealth formula,” Shoemaker said during the panel. “When they stop delving into what schools are doing in other parts of the world and more of how we pay for it … we will be casting a wary eye to make sure Carroll County gets its fair share of the pot.”

Other topics of discussion included funding for the opioid epidemic and gun laws.

Ellin said his experience taught him a lot about the opioid epidemic and the nature of addiction, and recommended tackling the issue by reigning in pharmaceutical companies and providing better services to the people of Carroll County.

“As a former felony narcotics officer in Baltimore city, I saw firsthand the effect opioid addiction can have on families, the effect it has on crime,” he said. “It’s extremely important to combat, and I agree you don’t just throw money at a problem and that makes it better. A lot of it is dealing with the issues in our community. It’s removing the stigma of being an addict. You can come forward — you don't need to hide in the shadows.”

Shank agreed that people suffering from addiction need better services — and that it stems from viewing drug addiction as a mental health issue, not a criminal one, and providing that care to everyone in the state who needs it.

“Addiction is a mental health issue,” she said. “If we really want to address the opioid crisis and we don't want this to snowball, the best thing we can do in addition to these measures is to put in statewide health care so everyone has access to mental health treatment.

“It’s not just heroin or opiates,” Shank said. “It’s alcohol and other drugs that can cause such devastating effects as well.”

In addition to better services, Rose said drug education is another key to battling the epidemic.

“A very good thing [Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford] did when I was elected,” she said, “he talked about the fact that when kids are in school, every kid knows: You don't smoke, it’s bad for you.

“We need education where kids know: Don't take those pills, don't take someone’s medication,” Rose said.

On gun laws, candidates were asked what is one change they would consider making if elected. Shank said she would want to “put teeth” into the requirement that gun owners keep their weapons locked.

“A child finding a gun is terrifying,” she said, “and 54 percent of law-abiding gun owners don't lock up their guns. And that may be for a variety of reasons, but there were 500 child suicides by gun in a year, and between 2012 and 2014 we had 5,800 gun-related injuries in children each year.”


She said the law only requires violators pay a small fine.


“I have a big problem with a law that doesn’t have any teeth in it,” Shank said, “that children can then gain access to guns and hurt or kill themselves or others.”

Krebs and Rose both said gun laws do not make people more safe, and that in places where there are more legal gun owners, there is less crime. Both were supportive of Maryland becoming a “shall issue” state when it comes to concealed carry laws.

However, statistics were not a part of Shoemaker’s comments on guns. The Second Amendment, he said, is a right given to Americans from the Founding Fathers.

“It’s the plain language of the Second Amendment that says the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” he said. “End of story.”

Transportation, infrastructure and legislation impacting businesses were also included in the questions.

The forum will be rebroadcast on channels 19 and 23, and online on-demand at www.carrollmediacenter.org.

District 5 encompasses the bulk of Carroll County, comprising 29 of the county’s 36 election precincts. Republicans will choose three of the four candidates in the primary election to move on to the general election in November. Shank, as the lone representative for her party, will move onto the general.

The primary election is Tuesday, June 26. Early voting begins Thursday, June 14, and runs through Thursday, June 21. This year, there are two early voting centers — the Westminster Senior and Community Center and the South Carroll Swim Club.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify a question candidates were asked about Maryland’s gun laws.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun