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Carroll County Times Opinion

Readers, politicians weigh in on primary election | READER COMMENTARY

Come together to strengthen democracy

No matter what our philosophy or politics are, or if we are suffering pain that was intentionally or unintentionally caused by someone or by some circumstance, we can all do ourselves and our family, friends and neighbors a big favor while doing our part to come together in compromise and strengthen democracy. We can tone down our anger, if not rid ourselves of it entirely.

We can instead reach out, love, forgive, show compassion, recognizing that we all need each other in a world that seems to be so afraid that it chooses that the only game for survival is a zero-sum game, where someone has to die so the other can live, which in this nuclear age and certain climate change is akin to all of us walking toward a cliff blind folded.

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Let’s work toward the most important change in this day and age. Let’s work each day for change in our own hearts, discarding anger and reaching out and understanding one another.

John D. Witiak, Union Bridge

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Endorsements for District 5, state’s attorney

We’ve come to another election season, this time deep in the heart of summer. The Republican primary is Tuesday. I’ve been honored to serve as your state senator, fighting in Annapolis for our conservative values. This year, I’m unopposed for reelection but I’m writing to ask for your support for three great candidates in the Republican primary.

In District 5, Del. April Rose is running for reelection and she has my strong support. As part of the District 5 team, April and I have partnered together on everything from reducing taxes to fighting for parents’ rights in education to reopening our schools and economy.

April and I are also supporting Chris Tomlinson for House of Delegates. Chris is an energetic conservative and proven community leader. He will stand up for our constitutional rights, oppose government overreach, support police, and protect Carroll’s agricultural heritage.

Chris and April have both been endorsed by Maryland Right to Life and received top ratings from the National Rifle Association. (April Rose received an A, Chris Tomlinson received an “AQ,” which is the highest rating a non-incumbent can receive.)

For Carroll County State’s Attorney, I’m supporting Haven Shoemaker. Haven has been a champion for conservative principles in the House of Delegates, supporting our police against radical “defund the police” and pro-criminal policies. He’s also been endorsed by Sheriff Jim DeWees, the Carroll County Fraternal Order of Police, former Gov. Bob Ehrlich and Maryland Right to Life. Haven also has an “A” NRA lifetime rating.

Look, during any election season a lot of things get thrown around attacking certain candidates. April Rose, Chris Tomlinson and Haven Shoemaker weren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouths. They’ve each had times in their lives when they struggled and also have had great times of success and accomplishment. They are the fighters we need — with the know-how to get the job done in the House of Delegates and state’s attorney’s office. I am proud to support them and would greatly appreciate your consideration and vote for them in the July 19 Republican primary.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the state Senate.

Justin Ready

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The writer is a state senator, representing District 5

Attacks on Shoemaker unwarranted

Since last August, David Ellin has done nothing but take low blows at Haven Shoemaker. Apparently, that’s all he has to offer. As someone who has been Haven’s administrative assistant for seven years, I think its only fair to provide context to Ellin’s scurrilous and unfair attacks on the character of a man I know well.

Truth be told, Haven, a solo practitioner who has lived and worked in Hampstead for 30 years, ran into a patch of trouble in 2015 when he needed emergency surgery for a life-threatening condition, which laid him up in St. Agnes Hospital. Haven’s recovery was long and complicated due to his diabetes.

Many folks who run small businesses will tell you that if you don’t work, you don’t eat. During his hospital stay and recovery, Haven made sure I got paid and that my health insurance was covered. From his sick bed at St. Agnes, he made sure client matters were handled and covered. Even though he was flat on his back he was able to keep serving his constituents as delegate and didn’t take the closing of North Carroll High School lying down. Instead he coordinated the effort to keep it open.

During this time, Haven was late paying his Maryland state tax bill and the enormous cost of his hospital stay. But make no mistake, as soon as he was back on his feet and able, Haven Shoemaker made good and satisfied all of his obligations to the penny.

I don’t know David Ellin, but I do know Haven Shoemaker, and the Haven Shoemaker I know puts God, family, clients and constituents first. I have had a front-row seat to a daily parade of people with problems seeking solutions file into Haven’s small law office off Main Street. Many leave after being helped at no charge. If Haven has one fault, it’s that he often charges low rates to those down on their luck, and I constantly scold him for doing so.

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Voters should pick a state’s attorney who fights for the interests of the people he serves first, and someone with character who can be trusted. Sheriff DeWees, and the local Fraternal Order of Police all have had past dealings with Haven and know and trust him as I do — and that’s why they have endorsed him along with me.

Jennifer A. Smith, Hampstead

The writer is Haven Shoemaker’s administrative assistant at the Law Office of Haven Shoemaker, P.A.

Cronyism alleged in state’s attorney race

On June 25 of last year, I publicly announced my candidacy for Carroll County State’s Attorney. Within five minutes of my announcement, I received a phone call from Mike Stewart, Haven Shoemaker’s former law partner and political strategist, advising me not to run for the job. Mr. Stewart informed me, in no uncertain terms, that Haven was the preordained candidate. It was the final piece of Shoemaker’s legacy and “they” had already secured him endorsements from Sheriff Jim DeWees and Interim State’s Attorney Allan Culver. I was somewhat taken aback because at that point no one else had filed for the office. How could the sheriff and acting state’s attorney have already made their endorsements before they knew who was even running? The best state’s attorney candidate in the world could have run for office, but the sheriff and acting state’s attorney had already made up their minds? Besides, Haven had never prosecuted a case in his life. How could they possibly have picked him? Mr. Stewart further went on to “recommend” that I run for commissioner or delegate and if I did, the “establishment” would support me.

Folks, that phone call is “Exhibit A” for cronyism and the Good Old Boy Network Vs. the Citizens of Carroll County.

If you don’t know me, I don’t take kindly to preordained candidates or veiled threats. I have always striven to do the right thing during my 25-year career, and it has served me well. That call only reinforced my desire to be the next state’s attorney.

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I am the only candidate who has ever been a prosecutor and it was my favorite job ever. During the time I served as an assistant state’s attorney, I had more jury trials than any other prosecutor in my office. Why? Because I didn’t yield to unreasonable plea deals, and I held the feet of criminals to the fire. Unlike some prosecutors I would rather try a case and lose, than give away a deal that made me hold my nose. I intended to stay a prosecutor for the majority of my career, but my grandfather, who was in his 80′s and in failing health, needed my help in his law firm. I left the state’s attorney’s office with a heavy heart for the job I had left behind but happy and confident I would help my family in times of need. Since becoming a plaintiff’s attorney, I have helped clients with brain damage and paralysis as well as those who have lost a child, spouse, or parent as a result of someone else’s negligence. I am extremely proud of the work I have done as a plaintiff’s attorney and as a prosecutor. However, in spite of the fact that I will need to leave my private practice in the hands of others, I am excited about returning to the job I loved the most.

On July 19, I humbly and respectfully, ask for your vote. A vote for the candidate who is most qualified and not a vote for a preordained candidate who has called in his political chits for a job he should never have.

David Ellin, Finksburg

Ellin is the Republican candidate for Carroll County State’s Attorney.

We must listen to, support educators

In the early days of the pandemic, teachers were lauded as heroes. Parents and caregivers struggled to balance work obligations, online schooling, and health and safety of loved ones. Citizens of Carroll County saw firsthand the challenging nature of teaching, and the complex tasks educators complete daily to effectively manage classroom behavior, promote learning, assess performance, and develop rapport with students.

When schools reopened, teachers contended with overcrowded classrooms, poorly maintained facilities, increased disruptive behavior, decreased student motivation and mental health, and criticism for teaching concepts that could be perceived as divisive or political. Across the nation, educators are now retiring early or taking jobs in other sectors, contributing to an already critical shortage of teachers and educational support staff. Roughly one-third of teachers recently surveyed reported they were likely to quit their jobs or were planning to leave teaching sooner than expected (Steiner et al., 2022).

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The combination of disrespect and stress, exacerbated by the pandemic, has led to the current situation in school systems — one that may soon be untenable. Rather than shrug off the concerns of educators as sensitivity or privileged complaint, we should see this challenging time as an opportunity to be innovative in teacher preparation programs, school community design, curriculum, and how we use technology (Christopher, 2022).

I have personally experienced the joy and elation when a student grasps a difficult concept, connects and applies complex ideas successfully, or achieves something they did not think themselves capable of. This fundamental reward of teaching — making a difference in the lives of our students — hasn’t changed.

But now, we must be mindful of what teachers are being asked to do on top of teaching. We should prioritize time, money, and care to help educators do what they are well-trained to do and ensure that they are protected from insidious attempts to silence or control them in the classroom.

It is well documented that teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling, and teachers who are most satisfied in their jobs have the greatest impact (Banerjee et al., 2017). Educators’ stress affects health, quality of life, and teaching performance, and costs schools billions of dollars each year (Roberts & Kim, 2019). We must listen to educators to better understand what factors affect their well-being on the job, so we can support them — and in turn, support our students and school communities.

Amanda Jozkowski, Eldersburg

Jozkowski is a candidate for the Carroll County Board of Education


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