Congressman Van Hollen (center), volunteers and aides campaigning at the Takoma Metro, April 14, 2016. Photo by Bill Brown.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
To Our Neighbors in Takoma Park:
As Takoma Park Democrats, we’ve been fortunate to have strong progressive representation in Congress. With Barbara Mikulski leaving the Senate, we have two candidates vying to replace her who have compiled strong progressive voting records in the U.S. House. Their voting records are nearly identical, but there’s more to Congress than voting records — we believe our Congressman Chris Van Hollen is the superior candidate and we are endorsing him as our next Senator. Here’s why:
To start, Chris is a real progressive. He has a deep commitment to the idea that government can improve society, with a focus on helping under-served communities. Dating back to his time in the Maryland State Legislature — when he was a leader in the battle for fair education funding — and continuing through his tenure in the House, where he fights daily in the legislative trenches to ensure low income Americans are treated fairly, Chris has been a true blue progressive Democrat.
Though he’s at home in the mini-debates on cable television that nowadays pass for public discourse, he’s more than just a passionate advocate.
He has put forward a comprehensive progressive economic plan that calls for a higher minimum wage, enhanced tax credits for lower income Americans; a greater contribution from the top one percent, and paid sick leave.
• He is an ardent fighter for women’s reproductive rights, with 100 percent lifetime Planned Parenthood and NARAL ratings.
• He is the House’s leader on Climate Change legislation.
• He played a key role in passing the Affordable Care Act, and is now pushing for the logical next step: a public option.
• He has worked hard on the Budget Committee to preserve and strengthen Medicare and Social Security.
• He is pressing for passage of legislation to reform police procedures, and prevent discrimination against racial minorities.
As conservatives game the electoral system by blocking qualified voters and injecting unregulated money into campaign financing, he’s fighting against voter suppression, for expanded voting rights, and for a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United.
Chris was chosen unanimously by his Democratic colleagues to be top Democrat on the Budget Committee — bypassing more senior Members of Congress – because of his legislative skills and political acumen. In that role, he has been one of President Obama’s quarterbacks, helping make sure the Administration’s priorities were funded and playing defense to prevent Rep. Paul Ryan’s budgets from devastating vital human services programs.
Chris is a Congressman who remembers where he came from. He has been there for us when we needed him on local matters, including weighing in with the Federal Transit Administration to help ensure the proposed Takoma Metro development was properly vetted, and helping us to secure Federal funding for the Community Center.
A big part of a Member of Congress’s job is assisting constituents in their dealings with the Federal Government. For Chris, whether that is something dramatic like helping gain the release of Alan Gross from prison in Cuba or the more mundane but equally important work to navigate the Federal bureaucracy to help individuals receive benefits, he has come through. Much of that work is done by staff, but the tone is set at the top. The staff have to know that if they don’t do everything possible to help a constituent, their boss will ask why, just as they have to know if they need a little extra muscle with a Federal agency on a challenging constituent problem, their boss will be ready to weigh in at a higher level. That’s the culture in his office, and many of us have personal stories of valuable assistance from his staff as well as meaningful intervention by Chris himself.
Congress seems mired in the same fights and gridlocked on the same issues, but there will be new challenges none of us can predict. So, we’ll be voting not only based on candidates’ past records and proposals. We’ll also be choosing someone based on their philosophy about governing. What will they do when the unknown next thing comes along?
Chris will be one of the people in the room who creates solutions. He’ll be the one who is willing to keep talking (as we see him talk to everyone at his public events, even when his staff tell him it’s time to go). He’ll be the negotiator who believes that the way to advance progressive values is to be willing to get some of what you want now (without sacrificing your fundamental principles), and then come back later to get more. He’ll be the Senator who will make us proud as progressives, while fighting against the toxic politics that are harmful to all of us and especially those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
That’s why we’re endorsing Chris Van Hollen for U.S. Senate,
Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart
Takoma Park City Councilmember Terry Seamens
State Delegate David Moon
Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal
Takoma Park City Councilmember Fred Schultz
Takoma Park City Councilmember Rizzy Qureshi
Takoma Park City Councilmember Peter Kovar
Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer
Marie Defeche Mackler
Kara Saul Rinaldi
Emily van Loon