Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore laid out his vision for Anne Arundel County and Maryland over the next four years Tuesday night at the Caucus of African American Leaders’ monthly meeting.
Moore, an author and nonprofit leader, greeted a full house at the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center in Annapolis where he promised to make education more accessible, and create more pathways to well-paying jobs. When discussing his plans to bolster mental health resources in schools, Moore praised Anne Arundel County for its efforts to create a consolidated 911 center that will integrate more kinds of expertise in responding to emergencies.
“We are going to have a state that is going to prioritize mental health supports both for veterans and their families,” Moore said. “We can’t stop there because the mental health challenges that we continue to see throughout our state, they are real, they are urban, they are rural, they are suburban.”
Moore also suggested he was the more measured and inclusive choice for governor, contrasting himself from his general election opponent Dan Cox, a Republican delegate from Frederick County who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in the primary. Cox handily defeated former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who was backed by Gov, Larry Hogan, to win the Republican nomination.
In the Democratic primary, Moore performed well in Anne Arundel County, winning 31.5% of the vote, the best of the eight-candidate field. Cox, meanwhile, lost the county to Schulz by less than two percentage points, 47.7% to 49.1%.
In his address to caucus members, Moore spoke of the ways he planned to work toward closing the racial and socio-economic opportunity gap in Maryland.
“We can do big things together, big things like making sure we have a 21st century education system for all. That includes making sure we have free pre-K for every single child,” Moore said. “We can be bold, and we can ensure that we’re making historic investments in things like apprenticeship programs and trade programs.”
If Moore wins the governorship, he promised to assemble a diverse administration, helping to ensure the state never reverts to its, at times, dark and shameful history.
“It’s not lost that we’re literally talking about in January having an inauguration in a building that was built by the hands of those who were enslaved walking [a] distance away from a dock that was one of the largest slave ports in the history of this country,” Moore said, referring the Maryland State House and City Dock in Annapolis.
Other Democratic leaders who will appear on the ballot with Moore this fall took the stage after his remarks, including Annapolis representatives, state Sen. Sarah Elfreth, Del. Shaneka Henson and Annapolis County Council member Lisa Rodvien. In her remarks, Henson highlighted the many candidates of color seeking office in the county, specifically acknowledging Pete Smith, a County Council candidate in District 1 and one of the few people of color running for council seats. Fourteen candidates are competing for seven council seats in the November election. Two of the candidates are people of color.
“It’s very important to me that institutions, faces and places, that have meant everything to Black history and culture continue to move forward and be carried on for the next generation,” Henson said.
Moore would be the first Black governor of Maryland. His running mate, lieutenant governor candidate Aruna Miller, would be the first Indian American to serve in the role.
After serving on the County Council for four years and hoping for another four, Rodvien of Annapolis said Moore has the ambition and perspective Maryland and Anne Arundel need to succeed.
“Wes Moore is inspiring when he speaks because he has a clear vision of what Maryland can be,” she said in a statement Wednesday. “We’re already a great state. I believe he sees a state where every last person can thrive.”
Brooke Lierman, a Baltimore delegate and the Democratic nominee for comptroller, introduced Moore, noting the historic nature of the election.
“This is the first time in over a hundred years that every statewide seat is open on the ballot — governor, attorney general and comptroller. This does not happen often,” she said. “Coupled with that, we have the most diverse ticket in the history of the state of Maryland.”
The Caucus doesn’t simply support candidates whose policies align with its values , it looks for candidates who approach public office with a mindset of being a public servant, said Carl Snowden, convener of the Caucus of African American Leaders.
“There are too many people who don’t understand when you get elected to public office you’re a public servant. You are not a mini-celebrity,” Snowden said. “It’s the responsibility of people who get elected to public office to be the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
Moore had an opportunity to prove he had the right attitude in the latter portion of the evening as he answered questions from local Black leaders in the audience on how he would deal with issues important to them, such as reentry into society for recently incarcerated people, a more diverse judiciary and responding to mental health emergencies.
Maryland Policy & Politics
Restricting where former inmates can live, the jobs they can have, and the grants and scholarships they are eligible for makes the state’s reentry system weak, Moore said, promising he’d work toward removing those barriers if elected.
“We are making every sentence a life sentence because we continue to add asterisks next to peoples’ names when they come back home,” he said. “That’s not a system of reentry.”
Moore also pledged to appoint a more diverse slate of judges. While the majority of the state is people of color, the majority of the state’s top judges are not, he said.
Asked how he would combat the state’s mental health crisis, Moore said his plan includes trauma-informed care all across Maryland, bolstering mental health resources in schools for both students and teachers, and rethinking how the state responds to emergencies.
Later in the meeting, Moore, a U.S. Army veteran, sought to separate himself from Cox by criticizing the Republican for his role in chartering buses to a Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House.
“While [veterans’] definition of patriotism was leaving our families and putting on the uniform of this country and defending our nation overseas in combat, his definition of patriotism was putting on a baseball hat and asking people to join him on January 6th at the Capitol,” Moore said. “This is not an opponent. This is a threat.”
Moore and Cox will face off in the general election Nov. 8.