State Assembly Delegate, District 20 – Will Jawando


 Will Jawando.

1) Tell us about yourself.

I am an education and civil rights attorney who was born and raised in Silver Spring, where I now live with my wife Michele and three young daughters. I grew up in a middle-class working family, my father a Nigerian immigrant and my mother born in Kansas.  They settled in Silver Spring because they saw the great promise and opportunity this community offers to those seeking their piece of the American Dream. They taught me the values of hard work and responsibility and it is those values that have guided me from the halls of Congress and the White House to the boardroom, through church and civic organizations, and most important, at home as a family man.  I’ve been proud to dedicate my life to improving the lives of my neighbors and look forward to continuing to work for social and economic justice in the House of Delegates. For more please visit:

2) What do you hope to accomplish in office?

As your Delegate, I will pursue policies that ensure the pillars of middle-class security—like great schools, fair wages, and equal rights and opportunities—are available to all Marylanders as they seek their own piece of the American Dream.

My top priorities are to ensure every child receives  a world class education and create ladders of opportunity by strengthening our economy and spurring economic growth.

A World Class Education for Every Child

Expand Access to Early Childhood Education

As your delegate I will focus on expanding access to early childhood education that is essential for a strong start.  Developing standards for high-quality settings, closing achievement gaps and creating wraparound supports for our students and building a growing workforce of highly qualified early childhood educators.

Close Opportunity and Achievement Gaps

Maryland and Montgomery County rightly boast of having one of this country’s best education systems, yet achievement gaps persist based on race, ethnicity and income. We must close those gaps while remaining committed to a well-rounded curriculum. This is why I support efforts to reduce class sizes in high-need schools and to incorporate strategies that personalize learning. An early warning system should be put in place to identify and assist middle school students who are beginning to stumble and provide support services that foster academic success and positive long-term development. The state, and Montgomery County in particular, has made progress, but we must keep moving forward.

Balanced Curriculum

Maryland students deserve a balanced curriculum with high academic standards–aligned to college and career readiness–that incorporate the arts, physical education and creativity. I will support investments in these curriculum areas and policies that support the development of the whole child and give priority to 21st century skills.

Support Teachers and Leaders

Teachers are the core of our education system and its greatest resource.  A good teacher can make the difference in a student’s educational success from one year to the next, and we have some of the best. We must continue to attract and retain high-quality educators by providing competitive salaries, a collegial and professional environment and ample opportunities for professional growth and development. Great teachers also deserve strong, effective and committed school leaders, so Montgomery County must also work to attract and retain the great principals and school administrators who foster a positive school environment.

Control College Cost and Develop a Career-Ready Workforce

In today’s economy, going to college or attaining some sort of postsecondary credential is the surest pathway to the middle class.  Unfortunately, although postsecondary education has never been more important, it’s also never been more expensive.  We must lower college costs while maintaining the high standards that make the Maryland System one of the best in the nation.  I served as a champion of college affordability during President Obama’s historic investment in the Pell grant program, which provides much-needed resources for low- and moderate-income families to attend college.

I will support innovative solutions like dual enrollment for high school students to ensure Maryland students continue to have the opportunity to receive a world-class college education at an affordable price.

Finally, we must develop a career ready workforce which includes a re-focus on postsecondary credentials—from a certificate to a bachelor’s degree—which provide lifelong skills and a stepping-stone to economic security. Credentialed workers are also a magnet for businesses desperate for skilled employees. To that end, there must be better access to internships and apprenticeships that engage students and adults in relevant learning experiences outside of the classroom while giving them valuable on-the-job training. Career and Technical Education programs like those that allow students to graduate high school with a diploma and an industry certification should also be expanded.

Creating Jobs and Growing Our Economy

Increase Economic Development Funding

I support increased funding for Maryland’s Department of Economic Development refocusing our efforts on attracting the best start-ups and high-tech jobs to Maryland, particularly to Silver Spring.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 97.5% of Maryland’s businesses are small businesses. Of those employers, 64% are female, minority, or veteran-owned. I strongly support efforts to expand the Maryland Small Business Reserve Program and the Minority Business Enterprise Fund, while ensuring that these programs are used for the target constituency.

Raise the Minimum Wage and expand Career and Technical Education
Additionally we should raise the minimum wage to at least 10.10/hour indexed to inflation, expand career and technical education programs, and focus on creating an environment with the creation of incentives for recent college graduates to become entrepreneurs in Maryland.

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

I am proud of many things but chief among them was my effort while in college to form a chapter of the NAACP at Catholic University after the university initially denied the chapter. 901-2004Oct12.
It was my start in grassroots advocacy and activism and was a critical early success that has driven me forward ever since.

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?

[see answer to question #5, below]

5) What distinguishes you from the other candidates?

Dedication to Public Service:  I have spent my entire adult life working to improve the lives of others.  My parents came to Maryland, my father from Nigeria and my mother from Kansas, in search of greater opportunity for their family.  They instilled in me the values of hard work and responsibility, but I know that nothing I’ve accomplished was done solely on my own merit.  It was because I had great educational opportunities and the right mentor, teacher, or friend that helped keep me on track when I might have strayed.

That’s why I know how important it is to have policies in place that help create an environment where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. No one will work harder on behalf of the people of District 20 and I will continue to fight on behalf of each person, knowing that our futures are intertwined, and if we as a community succeed, it will only be together.

Deep Community Roots:  In addition to growing up in the Long Branch community of Silver Spring and now raising my family in White Oak, I have deep community ties including service with a number of community organizations, boards and commissions.  After high school, I served as an AmeriCorps member with the Montgomery County Police working to assist victims of crimes.  Most recently, I’ve served on the Montgomery County Commission on Juvenile Justice, the Montgomery County Nighttime Economy Taskforce, The Montgomery County African Advisory Group,  and now on the Montgomery County Public School’s African American Student Achievement Action Group working to close achievement gaps that persist based on race, ethnicity and income.  I look forward to continuing my service to our great community in the years to come.

Experience:  I have extensive policy and legislative experience in areas of education, criminal justice and civil rights – having worked on Capitol Hill for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senators Barack Obama and Sherrod Brown and later in the Obama White House and U.S. Department of Education.  While serving on Capitol Hill, I crafted and negotiated legislation to expand early childhood education programs and make college more accessible and affordable.  While serving in the White House Office of Public Engagement I worked with advocates and civil rights leaders to ensure equal pay for equal work, protect the right to vote, and make the criminal justice system more fair.  And as the Director of Government Relations at Discovery Communications, I honed my skills in building coalitions to get things done – coalitions that included both government and non-government stakeholder and national and local nonprofits and advocacy groups. This included implementation of a program in Montgomery County to bridge digital divides in our communities and encourage more young people to study science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)—gateways to good paying jobs and critical to our country’s future economic competitiveness.

I have a broad range of experience that will enable me to work in the legislature to craft sound policy but also work with community and advocacy groups to create the environment for progressive change.

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

While Montgomery County is one of the wealthiest counties in the state, not all of its residents have benefited from the progress and development we’ve seen here. The profound impact of the recession on Maryland’s most vulnerable residents underscores the need for policy improvements that ensure fairness and opportunity for all.  My priorities for education, economy and budget are summarized elsewhere in this questionnaire.

We face many disparities including a widening achievement gap for our low income and students of color, especially in east and down county.  It is important that our government prioritizes programming and outreach strategies that ensure the diverse communities it serves face no barriers to accessing services, are treated fairly, and receive clear, timely and culturally competent information.  I support policies to reduce low income, minority, and immigrant health disparities and ensure availability and awareness of affordable coverage and reshape long-term care and community services to better meet the needs of seniors, people with disabilities and family caregivers. I will support working families by passing paid sick leave and family medical leave, and an equal pay law to reduce the gender wage gap.  I would also reform our broken criminal justice system to focus on rehabilitation. It’s time for policies that help families get ahead and help build an economy that works for all of us.

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

One of the top issues facing the Assembly is our state’s spending priorities. I firmly believe that budgets are moral documents and reflect our values. I was encouraged to see that this year’s budget didn’t include tax increases for residents, and had increased spending for Pre-K and K-12 education. However, the increase in in-state college tuition rates will be a strain for countless Maryland families.

With Montgomery County Public Schools poised to add more than 2,000 students per year over the next several years, I am concerned that for far too long Montgomery County has not received a fair share of school construction funds.  I would want to see an increase in funding above the allocated $22 million for Montgomery County.   Another area of concern is the allocation of funds for the erection of a new prison.  Since the early 1980’s

Maryland’s prison population has tripled.  As opposed to increased funding for yet another prison in Maryland, I would support a reduction of prison construction funds and divert that money to community based alternatives.  I support policies that will expand alternatives to incarceration and offer community-based alternatives to traditional penalties, including mental health, drug treatment, education and job training.  Other states have seen drops in crime and recidivism by instituting programs like drug courts, mental health courts and community courts which link offenders to social services and community restitution.

Finally, I believe that as a part of our social contract, we must support increases that will support and speak to the needs of some of our state’s most vulnerable population – older adults.  I would support increased funding to put in place a comprehensive network that meets the needs of our aging, people with disabilities and family caregivers by supporting efforts to shape long-term care and community based services reform in the state.

As one of the wealthiest states in the nation, we must have a tax system that protects working families and the vulnerable, invests in infrastructure and human capital, and requires corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share. While there has been a concerted effort to tarnish our reputation, due to the levying of a few taxes, such as the Luxury Tax, which I support, I fundamentally reject the assertion that having a progressive and well-rounded tax code is a reason for flight.  I support efforts for comprehensive tax reform that will raise revenue in a progressive fashion, along with targeted spending reductions that will better reflect the needs of our global, modern economy and will address the rise of income inequality in our state and help strengthen the middle class.

8) Please list endorsements:

• The Washington Post
• AFL-CIO Maryland State and DC Council
• African-American Democratic Club of Montgomery County
• AFSCME Maryland State Council
• CASA in Action
• Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats of Maryland
• Equality Maryland
• Hispanic Democratic Club of Montgomery County
• One Montgomery
• People for the American Way Action Fund
• Progressive Maryland
• SEIU Local 500
• SEIU MD/DC State Council
• UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO

Elected Officials
• Cherri Branson, Montgomery County Council Member
• Elijah Cummings, U.S. Congressman
• Nancy Navarro, Montgomery County Council Member
• Hans Riemer, Montgomery County Council Member
• Craig Rice, Montgomery County Council President

Community Leaders (Partial List):
• Gabriel Acevero – Young Democratic Activist
• Carmen Camacho – Small business owner: Bud Miller Associates
• Valerie Ervin – Former Montgomery County Council Member
• Tsega Haile – Small business owner: Kaldi’s Coffee
• Benjamin Todd Jealous – Former NAACP President and proud Marylander
• Linda Kolko – Montgomery County Democratic activist
• Heather Powers Sauter – Parent advocate
• Jerry Samet – East County activist
• Rex Smith – Housing advocate
• Corinne Vanchieri – Parent advocate
• Julie Verratti – Small business owner: Denizens Brewing Co.

9) Please supply links, and contact info.

Campaign Office Address: 8401 Colesville Rd., Suite 140, Silver Spring, MD 20910
Campaign Web Site:
Campaign Facebook Page:
Campaign Twitter Account:  @WJawando
Campaign Email:
Campaign Phone:  240-343-4925
Campaign Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 4614, Silver Spring, MD 20914


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