State Assembly Delegate, District 20 – D’juan Hopewell


D’juan Hopewell.

1) Tell us about yourself.

I am the “son of a preacher man” and a PTA mom. My utmost desire is to see justice in our world. That justice extends to the economic realm, allowing families to live in security and ecological health. I’ve served as a HUD employee, researcher on urban policy issues (while studying public policy on the doctoral level) all while relating back to my childhood- in which I recall my family sleeping in our van. My advocacy is rooted in these experiences. I’m simply a man determined to see that other children do not face those same challenges. While I’ve been an advocate on many social and environmental issues, as I move forward, I’m most focused on delivering on jobs and progressive economic issues.

3) What do you hope to accomplish in office?

I will work to reverse the trend of the past five years in which up to 40% of U of M grads are leaving campus unemployed or underemployed. I will labor to usher in the age of progressive economic victories that yield jobs, a revival of manufacturing and the cultivation of vibrant local economies across Maryland. I hope to ensure that Takoma Park and Silver Spring become the nation’s hotbed of startups. I will work until Maryland no longer trails Alabama in alternative energy and to see the day that net zero construction is the norm. I will work to build coalitions that shift slots revenues from horse racing welfare to school construction. I will work to ensure that healthcare access is universal.

2) What would you say your biggest accomplishment has been so far. What does that say about your priorities as delegate?

There is an even tie for my “greatest accomplishment.” First, as Maryland Advocacy Manager of Share our Strength, I was able to build coalitions (extending even to the private sector) and lobby extensively in Annapolis to secure millions in new funding for school breakfast programs across the state. In fact, every eligible District 20 elementary school is serving universal breakfast as of this school year. Next I would point to my work with Human Rights Campaign to pass marriage equality. Having been defeated in 2011, I was asked to help work on a faith based strategy to support the bill in 2012. I traveled the state building coalitions with clergy to help ensure the bill passed. All this simply indicates I am capable of tackling any priority.

4) Many of you have fought for political causes outside of the assembly. What could you accomplish as a delegate that you couldn’t accomplish as an advocate?

As a delegate, I’d simply be afforded a larger platform to organize year round on priorities that I and other neighbors originate and not necessarily the good people in Annapolis. There are endless worthy causes and critical issues in our neighborhoods that need helping hands. As a delegate, it would become much easier to organize the community effectively around these things and organize resources. Further, being a delegate would enable me to move out of single issue advocacy and bring my organizing and lobbying talents to more than one issue at a time.

5) What distinguishes you from the other candidates?

While there are several good (first time) candidates, I cannot say that they have successfully managed to increase a state program’s funding by over fifty percent. Further, I cannot say any of them have displayed the organizing and coalition building talents necessary to rally clergy statewide around issues such as marriage equality and the Dream Act. I have successfully done all the above. Lastly, I bring fresh approaches to old problems, such as moving toward single payer healthcare and mitigating the state’s carbon footprint.

6) That is the top issue (or one of the top issues) facing the District and how do you propose to deal with it?

Among our urgent priorities is the need for school construction dollars. The problem is countywide and indeed District 20 is at the heart of it. The school system is growing by over 2,000 students a year. While we were turned down $20 million this past legislative session for this purpose, the state is spending $100 million on horse racing welfare, funded by slots revenues. The answer is to build coalitions with legislators from Prince George’s County, Baltimore City and County- all of whom have or in the recent past had similar needs- and jointly push legislation to re-route those funds to school construction. In addition to satisfying an educational need, this would provide much needed jobs for the state.

7) What are the top issues facing the Assembly and how do you propose to deal with them?

In my time as a lobbyist for Share our Strength in Annapolis, I observed what seemed to be an intense competitiveness between regions for resources. While natural, this can also lead to paralysis. Rather than focusing on fighting for a shrinking pie, we need to be focused on growing that pie. I plan to work with legislators on growing our small businesses and consequently, our state’s revenues. Fostering an environment of economic growth statewide is a team sport and much healthier than the blood match that I have so often seen in Annapolis.

8) Please list endorsements:

UFCW 400, African American Democratic Club of Montgomery County, Cherri Branson, Michael Shuman (local economist and Silver Spring resident), Herman Taylor, Travis Tazelaar (former Executive Director of the Maryland Democratic Party and Silver Spring resident),

9) Please supply links, and contact info.

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