State Delegate District 39 (three seats) | Bethesda Magazine

State Delegate District 39 (three seats)

 

Republican

 

Verelyn Gibbs Watson

Where you live: Germantown

Date of birth: Dec. 19, 1974

Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Business Owner, CEO Watson Works LLC

Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): First time running for office

Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I’m running because we need to give small business owners a voice in our legislative process and also because it is important that our representatives more accurately reflect the demographics of our community. We are fortunate to have one of the most diverse districts in Maryland. It’s time to do a better job authentically honoring and embracing that diversity.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

One of the most important issues is the lack of support for small businesses. They create jobs for our citizens and revenue for local municipalities. Too many small businesses are closing and not enough new ones are starting because we make it so hard for small businesses to succeed in our state. We need to make it easier, offer more economic incentives and change the false narratives that imply it is not possible to simultaneously support small businesses and the employees who help them thrive.

3 – What is one major issue the current House has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

I don’t believe in playing “Monday Morning Quarterback.” It’s easy to say what should have been done with the benefit of hindsight. But when you’re in the room, making the tough decisions, you do the best you can with the information you have at the time. I prefer to focus on what can be learned from the impact of the decisions we make, so that we can make better decisions going forward. What we need in Annapolis is an infusion of fresh perspective and increased diversity to ensure our state government functions in the best interests of all Marylanders.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I am not a politician. I bring a unique, multi-faceted, empathy-based, perspective gained from being a wife, mother, immigrant, woman of color and small business owner, who has held leadership roles in for-profits and non-profits. My educational background includes Harvard and HBCUs, but most importantly, I am a solutions-oriented, optimist who believes that anything is possible if you are willing to try and that getting in the game and giving it your best always beats sitting on the sidelines complaining.

 

Democrat

 

Gabriel Acevero

Where you live: Montgomery Village

Date of birth: Oct. 23, 1990

Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Union representative/organizer

Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): First-time candidate

Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I’m running because I love my community. District 39 deserves legislators that will work for everyone in the community in ways that promote sustainable growth, safe streets, great schools, and attracts desired investment as well as jobs that pay living wages. I’m running because regardless of who you are or where you’re from, everyone should have the same opportunities at pursuing success while also positively contributing to the social and economic fabric of America.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

I believe the most important issue is education. I’m a firm believer in the promise of a good public education; as Delegate, I’ll prioritize our public schools and ensure that our educators and support staff have the resources they need to meet the needs of every child. Further, I’ll work to make public colleges and universities tuition free and ensure we’re making the right investments in our state’s economic future and students aren’t being saddled with debt. In order for Maryland to continue being competitive, we must build a 21st century economy and educate the next generation to lead it.

3 – What is one major issue the current House has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

Providing better transit options is one of the keys to greater investment. Investing in smart transit solutions such as Bus Rapid Transit alleviates traffic while also ensuring cleaner air and healthier communities. Cars generate significantly more greenhouse gas pollution on a per passenger-mile basis than transit systems. And for every $1 we invest in public transit, we gain $4 in economic activity. I’d like to see greater investments in public/mass transit while using existing roads more efficiently so we’re reducing pollution while improving traffic congestion. As Delegate, I’ll prioritize transportation funding so residents are spending less time on the roads.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I’ve spent many years as an activist working on legislation and advocating for issues important to working families at the state and local level. In 2012, I was an organizer for Marriage Equality (Question 6) and the Dream Act (Question 4) and I previously worked in government relations and as a business development manager for a minority business enterprise (MBE). As a union representative and organizer with MCGEO, I represent workers on contractual and workplace safety issues. I believe my experience as an organizer, legislative advocate and business development professional has prepared me to represent District 39 effectively in Annapolis.

 

Lesley J. Lopez

Where you live: Germantown

Date of birth: Nov. 28, 1983

Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Chief communications officer for the organization Run for Something; faculty member at The George Washington University

Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): First time running for office

Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

As an educator, nonprofit leader and Congressional staffer, I have spent years working to better the lives of women, working families and immigrant families like my own. That’s who I’ll be as a legislator. I’m running to continue fighting for a more equitable Maryland. To see a comprehensive list in English and Spanish, visit the “Why I’m Running” page on www.lopezformaryland.com.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Though funding for education and accessible affordable healthcare are also top priorities, transportation is major concern for Montgomery County residents. Governor Hogan’s proposals continue to lack the substance and innovation needed to permanently address this issue. I will advocate for long-term fixes that balance transportation and transit needs with environmental concerns. Right now, public transportation options for people in District 39 are subpar, which exasperates the area’s traffic crisis and pollutes our natural resources. We need solutions that will both alleviate I270 traffic while also offering low-cost, reliable public transportation that is accessible for much of Maryland.

3 – What is one major issue the current House has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

I was deeply disappointed in how long it took to pass legislation to allow rape survivors to terminate the parental rights of their assailants. In fact, learning about this bill was one of my motivating factors in running. Even in a state as progressive as Maryland, we have a long way to go in making sure underrepresented people are heard and their perspectives are valued.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I started my career as broadcast journalist, but realized I wanted to be an advocate for change. Since then, I have held leadership roles for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the National Immigration Forum, where I was able to work on immigration reform, economic inequality, and healthcare. Currently, I serve as Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at Run for Something, a youth civic engagement organization.

I am an adjunct professor at The George Washington University and SEIU Local 500 workplace lead for my department. I am on the board of directors for NARAL ProChoice MD and the Montgomery County Board of Social Services and also a National Volunteer Partner for Girl Scouts USA.

 

Kirill Reznik (incumbent)

Where you live: Germantown

Date of birth: Aug. 9, 1974

Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Director of institutional development and senior program manager for USAID Office of Food for Peace Support Services Contract. Employer is Macfadden & Associates, Silver Spring.

Political experience: Delegate for District 39 (representing Germantown, Montgomery Village, unincorporated Gaithersburg, Clarksburg, and the Town of Washington Grove) since 2007

Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I have had the privilege of representing District 39 since 2007 and have accomplished a number of positive things for my constituents, especially in the areas of health care, environmental protection, job opportunities, and advances in justice. Unfortunately, there is still so much left to do. I am running to continue the progress that I have made to date, focusing on expanding health care coverage for all and transitioning to a new, productive economy.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

It’s hard to pinpoint one issue. My constituents have expressed concerns with regard to healthcare, education funding, job opportunities with fair pay and benefits, just to name a few. For healthcare, I have developed and proposed a comprehensive universal health care program based on the principles of single payer healthcare. With regard to education funding, I am proud to have supported a lockbox for gambling revenue and the implementation of the Kirwin Commission to modernize our education formulas. I will continue efforts to expand job opportunities and give employees a fair shake in our economic market.

3 – What is one major issue the current House has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

There is always a lot of issues that are not dealt with completely or are compromised to an extent that removes all efficacy. One example from this past session was the compromise on the “crime bill” originally proposed by the Governor as a complete reversal on the work done through justice reinvestment, focusing too much on prosecution and incarceration, and not enough on reform and rehabilitation. The compromise did allow for expungement of nonviolent crimes after 15 years, but also created mandatory minimum sentences for other crimes, that I felt was an inappropriate step and voted against.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I have been a Delegate since 2007 and rose to the position of Chairman of the Health and Social Services Subcommittee on Appropriations, as well as House Parliamentarian. I am a licensed attorney in Maryland and Washington, D.C., specializing in procurement law, and hold a Master’s Degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. As an immigrant, I know the daily struggles that many new Americans face every day in fully participating in our society. As a husband and father of two young girls, I share my constituents concerns about the education, school safety, and maximizing the potential of their children.

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