We asked local candidates in contested primary elections to write a sub-750 word essay describing why residents should vote for them on June 24.
Next is Gareth Murray, running for one of three District 16 House of Delegates seats in the Democratic primary. Below is Murray’s unedited response:
Because of the 2012 redistricting plan, I am the newest resident to District 16 but I am not new to Montgomery County, the General Assembly or the legislative process. I have been a resident of Montgomery County since relocating from Los Angeles in 1988.
I was an activist in the east county community as a PTA officer, founding member of Action in Montgomery, board member of the Banneker Math and Science Honors Program (now AAFAE), catalyst for establishing The People’s Wellness Clinic (for under and uninsured East County residents), volunteer assistant coach at Springbrook High School, board member of the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County, board member of National Center for Children and Families and membership committee representative for Leadership Montgomery.
While living in Colesville in the late 1990′s, I was successful in forming an alliance with District 16′s River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation to engage in a community building activity for the Martin Luther King Holiday of service. The goal was to have children from different backgrounds and races come together to paint a mural for the Good Hope Rec Center. During the service activity, our children gained an appreciation for our diversity and learned to work cooperatively with others for the common good.
Since moving to Potomac, I have continued to serve my community as a director for two terms with the Potomac View Home Owners Association and the Montgomery County Faith Community Working Group. I initiated an action with the assistance of former Delegate Bronrott, to have a “yield to oncoming traffic” sign installed at River Road for westbound traffic from Piney Meetinghouse Road. This was done in response to safety concerns expressed by Potomac View residents attempting to exit the development by crossing over or turning right onto River Road.
Delegate Ariana Kelly says, “We need to elect people who look like Montgomery County, more diverse people who will build better relationships.” I bring that added element of diversity and have maintained strong working relationships with my former General Assembly colleagues.
In 2002, I was elected to the House of Delegates from District 20 becoming the first of two African Americans in the history of Montgomery County to serve in such a capacity. During my time in office some of my accomplishments included legislation that (1) strengthened the MBE program by raising the personal net worth limit, (2) toughened reporting requirements to make the Small Business Reserve Program more accountable, (3) created a process for nursing homes to challenge findings of state audits, (4) addressed the impact of neglected men’s health, (5) brought attention to the importance of cultural competence in health care and (6) with support from my colleague Delegate Marilyn Goldwater, instituted family councils to empower nursing home residents and their families.
Following one term, I was appointed Director of Legislative Affairs for the Maryland Higher Education Commission, where I coordinated the crafting and drafting of administration bills for higher education. I was also a co-chair on the State Plan for Higher Education writing teams for 2009 and 2013. The state plan sets a four-year agenda for all Maryland institutions of higher education.
If elected I will offer a new paradigm in education that will increase funding for our schools, decrease the achievement gap, make college more affordable, increase the college completion rates and more closely align the business sector with higher education. I will fight for funding of programs that support our senior adults. I will continue our efforts to clean up the Bay and its tributaries in order to strengthen our fishing and related industries. I will address transportation concerns working to make our commutes whether for business or pleasure less stressful. I will also continue my work with our Veteran Community to implement educational, career and health related programs that support their successful transition to civilian life and make Maryland an affordable preference for their permanent residency.
I am seasoned to serve. I have the experience, the skills, the intellect, the educational preparation, the relationships and the vision to effectively serve Montgomery County. Now I need and humbly request the residents of District 16 to vote for me in the Primary election on June 24 or during early voting from June 12 to June 19.