ELECTIONS • THE VOICE
Next Tuesday, November 4, local voters must chose three out of four candidates to represent Maryland House of Delegates District 20.
One of them, former Takoma Park Ward 3 councilmember Dan Robinson, is running as an independent Maryland Green Party candidate. The other three, incumbent Sheila Hixon and newcomers David Moon and Will Smith are Democratic Party candidates. They were chosen from a field of 9 primary election candidates last June.
The Takoma/Silver Spring Voice put the same questions to Robinson we submitted to the primary candidates. His responses are below.
The Democratic candidate’s responses can be accessed by clicking on their names above.
As he notes in his replies, Dan Robinson was one of Takoma Voice’s founders in 1986.
Dan Robinson. Maryland Green Party photo.
1) Tell us about yourself.
I’ve lived in Takoma Park since 1985, raising a family with my spouse Sally Rieger (a career teacher) and building community here in a variety of ways. Our younger daughter Sarah went through the public school system from Takoma Elementary to Blair.
Though born in Washington, D.C., I grew up in Arizona and California, then came back to this area in in my twenties to study Law and City/Regional Planning at Catholic University for a year and a half. I went on to work for a year at HUD and then at The Washington Post, and pursued other things until adopting computer technology as a career path in the early ’80s.
It was a slow build to serving two terms on the City Council in Takoma Park in 2007 and 2009. My endeavors ranged from starting the Voice Newspaper and Takoma Foundation with others, to chairing or co-chairing various committees and the neighborhood association, to starting a local technology business later sold to the employees. It’s been great fun. Now I’m ready to serve in the State legislator as a Delegate. The only problem is I’m running as an independent Green, and this area has only supported Democrat candidates for decades.
2) What do you hope to accomplish in office?
Last week I was endorsed by the Washington Post. They acknowledge the political monopoly here, and they call for electoral reform. I agree with that analysis, and will work hard in that area.
Environmental changes will have many ramifications. Some overriding priorities I see are to get us out of our cars, get a real grip on pollution, and create energy in a more decentralized manner.
The political imbalance in Maryland extends to poor treatment of cities and localities, and I’ll work to remedy that. Takoma Park, for example, has no control over its land and is getting short-changed to the tune of a third of its budget by the county. Plenty of work to do there.
Dan Robinson peddling his candidacy. Photo provided by the candidate.
3) What would you say your biggest accomplishment has been so far. What does that say about your priorities as delegate?
Through my business I was lucky to have had an office in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, then the World Wildlife Fund, then I met weekly with the Assistant Superintendent of Education for Maryland. Each experience taught me a ton about a variety of important issues, including social services, environment, and education. Another accomplishment was to build an office building in Takoma Park to serve start-up local businesses, which I still own and manage. I learned how to work with other councilmembers and staff while on the Takoma Park Council, and while on the Board of TPSS Food Coop.
These experiences give me the ability to understand and untangle difficult bureaucratic and legislative problems, regardless of their subject or content, and to work well with colleagues.
4) Many District 20 candidates have fought for political causes outside of the assembly. What could you accomplish as a delegate that you couldn’t accomplish as an advocate?
I’ll be the only Green Party legislator in Annapolis, and that will give me the ability to ally myself with good solutions, regardless of political party tension, and to speak from a unique, non-partisan perspective.
5) What distinguishes you from the other candidates?
Beyond my independence, I’m the only one with local elected experience, the only one with business experience, and the only bottom-up community builder.
Dan Robinson collecting signatures at the 2013 Takoma Park Folk Festival.
6) What is the top issue (or one of the top issues) facing the District and how do you propose to deal with it?
In answers to questions above I’ve alluded to the importance of getting us out of our cars, out of the exclusively top-down planning mindset, and away from our monopolistic political system. I’ve got a bunch of specific ideas, but I’d prefer to expand on them in a larger conversation.
7) What are the top issues facing the Assembly and how do you propose to deal with it?
Well, transparency is important. I’ve lived through the technological revolution with a front-row seat, and I’m ready to apply skills learned to government, which is, I believe, still in the early stages of a revolution of its own. I’ll also fully report what I see in Annapolis.
8) Please list endorsements:
I’m really proud of the Washington Post endorsement because it is couched in language I agree with – it is unhealthy to have a single political party in near-total control of our political landscape.
I’ve been lobbied many times, and because I’m independent I haven’t sought endorsements from most groups who’ve sent me questionnaires. I do have a very long list of supporters on the campaign website.