Md. candidates for governor discuss child care during virtual forum

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Maryland gubernatorial candidates Del. Dan Cox (R) and author Wes Moore (D) participated in a virtual forum Wednesday with a focus on how their administrations would support families, children and child care businesses and workers.

The two men didn’t get to speak directly to each other because they appeared at separate times in the two-hour forum hosted by the Maryland Family Network of Baltimore.

“We chose this format and set up so we could have neutral guidelines so the candidates can speak directly to us without the often noisy and fractious environment of a debate,” said Laura Weeldrever, executive director of the family network. “We are grateful for the opportunity to amplify issues that we all care deeply about.”

Before Cox, who is a lawyer, began his remarks, he rejected the forum format and said he wants to debate Moore in person.

“I’m all about transparency and making sure the people have access to us individually,” he said. “A debate is a fun thing and a good thing. Not appearing with me just continues this separate but equal approach that I disagree with and I think the people of Maryland disagree with.”

He also challenged Moore to accept an invitation to participate in a Sept. 27 gubernatorial forum at Morgan State University, a historically Black university in Baltimore.

Moore declined the invitation last month and his spokesperson Carter Elliott IV said an in email Wednesday that Moore looks forward to participating in a scheduled debate Oct. 12 hosted by Maryland Public Television.

“Dan Cox is desperate for any platform to peddle his conspiracy theories, while we have been focused on connecting directly with Maryland voters on the issues that matter to them,” Elliott said. “While we will not be able to attend this forum, we are actively working on other meaningful ways to engage the students and student journalists at Morgan State.”

Without saying Cox’s name during the forum, Moore, a former non-profit CEO, urged the more than 100 people watching to assess the candidates’ platforms.

“We can be driven by hope and unity and not [by] fear and divisiveness and conspiracy theories” Moore said. “This is our time to get this right.”

As for his policies, Moore summarized some of them, including free universal pre-kindergarten for all children, accelerate the state’s minimum wage to $15 before 2025 and provide a paid service-year option for students who are uncertain about career plans after high school graduation.

Moore also said his administration would provide better support for child care providers.

“These are [often] female entrepreneurs that are never treated as such,” he said. “The state can do a better job of helping to underwrite these various capacities and being able to provide pathways for our child care providers to be able to open, stay open, grow and support more students.”

Cox also expressed support for child care providers, which he said are essentially small businesses.

If elected, Cox said he would push for providers to receive tax credits, opportunities to apply for grants and access to capital.

He said he also would push the state’s Department of Assessments and Taxation to reduce property tax bills, push the state to use part of a budget surplus to help parents and small businesses and to loosen regulations on small businesses.

“We don’t need to have an overregulated family day care business that can’t even open its doors like we had during the pandemic,” Cox said. “That’s an outrage. Our small businesses must be treated equally, or on par, with our big businesses. We had big businesses open during the pandemic, so it was a complete disparity.”

Three other gubernatorial candidates are on the Nov. 8 general election ballot: David Lashar, a registered Libertarian; Green Party candidate Nancy Wallace; and David Harding with the Working Class Party.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

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