The weather was frightfully damp and cold Sunday, March 26, as my wife and I gathered with a small band of volunteers in Wilde Lake to go door to door urging residents to contact Howard County Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty and tell her to please support Council Bill 30- the long awaited legislation that will change politics in the county for the better.
This is the bill, due for introduction April 3 and a public hearing April 19 (7p.m. at the George Howard building), that would implement the voters’ will expressed on Question A in last November’s election. It created a citizens election fund to provide matching funds to candidates for county council and county executive who agree to only accept small donations.
Sigaty is the only county council member who has not expressed a position on the bill, so we want to urge her to support it. If she does, it would give the council a veto-proof majority, since the three other Democats on the council support it though county executive Allan H. Kittleman will likely veto the bill.
We knocked on 67 doors in 90 minutes, mostly along Green Mountain Circle, and spoke to 25 residents who were overwhelmingly supportive of the new system. We hope Councilwoman Sigaty gets lots of phone calls as a result. (Call 410-313-2001 and tell her to vote for the bill!)
We broke off the effort when we ran out of printed sheets to give people, and then moved on to the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center for a 3 p.m. meeting on immigration. There, we heard State Senator Guy Guzzone, Del. Clarence Lam, immigration attorney Jonathan Greene, county council members Jen Terrasa and Calvin Ball and others talk about why a proposed state law supporting immigrants is important, though facing a tough road in the state senate and from Gov. Larry Hogan, who has vowed to veto it.
Lam debunked propaganda that undocumented immigrants burden society and don’t add anything. “This is simply not true,” he said, noting that immigrants work, spend money, pay taxes, are as law abiding as anyone else and don’t overcrowd schools.
Dels. Terry Hill and Eric Ebersole also attended.
The state law has already passed the House of Delegates, and if enacted, would not affect federal law or immigration enforcement. It prevents creation of an immigration database by state and local governments, prevents racial profiling, and requires that a federal warrant signed by a judge be required for local enforcement officers to hold immigrants beyond any state sentence or jail stay.
Guzzone said he’s been shaken since the election to feel we are again confronting intolerance he thought was consigned to history years ago. Greene rallied the crowd of around 150 people by saying “This is my country and it’s my turn to fight for my country.” What the Trump administration and other Republicans are trying to do, he said, is to “Make America Small Again.”
Terrasa said that despite the veto of her and Ball’s CB9 sanctuary bill, “Calvin and I, we’re not done.” Ball, who is African American, said that for him, advocating for immigrants stems from the knowledge that abolitionists worked for decades to help free African slaves in the 19th century. Without their advocacy, “I wouldn’t be in this position,” he said. “We will not turn our backs on our neighbors,” he said.
Guzzone said “The oldest trick in the (political) book is to ask people “why is your life horrible and bad and who should you blame.” Attempts to use isolated crimes like the alleged rape of a 14-year old girl at Rockville High school to stir anger at entire groups of people is both wrong and appalling, several speakers said.
So the political pot is still boiling, and there remains plenty for every interested citizen to do.