Candidates for Maryland governor differ on education support, assisted suicide
Oct. 24, 2014
The two major party candidates for Maryland’s governor in November’s general election –Democrat Anthony Brown and Republican Larry Hogan – both of whom are Catholic, spelled out their stances on the issues during recent wide ranging interviews with Catholic officials. The two men participated in separate interviews on Sept. 26 during a meeting of the Board of Governors and Administrative Board of the Maryland Catholic Conference that was held at a conference room at St. John Neumann Mission Church inAnnapolis. After fielding questions from board members of the MCC, the public policy arm of Maryland’s Catholic bishops, the candidates were interviewed by journalists from the state’s Catholic newspapers – the Catholic Standard of the Archdiocese of Washington, which covers the nation’s capital and the five surrounding Maryland counties; the Catholic Review of the Archdiocese of Baltimore; and the Dialog of the Diocese of Wilmington, Del., which includes Maryland’s Eastern Shore. In welcoming the candidates, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori said, “The Church does not support or oppose candidates, but… (we) encourage the Catholic faithful to be educated about the issues and active participants in the political process.” The participants included Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, who introduced the topic of education. Wilmington Bishop W. Francis Malooly introduced the topic of social concerns. The board’s questions to the candidates were posed by some members of the clergy, including Msgr. John Enzler, the president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington; and by some lay Catholics. EDUCATION Anthony Brown, who has served for the past eight years as Maryland’s lieutenant governor, said he would not support the proposed Maryland Education Tax Credit that would help children of lower income families attending public and private schools. “First and foremost, I need to ensure our public schools are adequately funded and provide the best education possible,” he said. Brown, a member of St. Joseph Church in Largo, noted that two of his children recently graduated from St. Pius X Regional School in Bowie and are now attending DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville. “I recognize the important role you play, and recognize the challenges that families and institutions have to make ends meet, and keep schools open,” he said. He noted that as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates and as the state’s lieutenant governor, he has supported increases in state aid for textbook funding at nonpublic schools. He said he had earlier supported the BOAST tax credit proposal in Maryland, but he no longer supports that kind of program, but he would be open to other ideas, such as providing transportation funding for children attending private schools. “I have a willingness to work with you to support our nonpublic schools to the greatest extent possible,” he said. In a later interview with the Catholic journalists, Brown addressed his reversal on Maryland education tax credit issue, saying, “There are other ways we can achieve the goal of greater support for nonpublic schools.” Larry Hogan, a businessman and civic leader who is a member of Holy Family Parish in Davidsonville, said, “I’m a strong supporter of it (the Maryland Education Credit)…We would work across the aisle on a bipartisan basis to get this passed… I would make it a priority. I believe every child should have access to a quality education. I think we ought to do whatever we can to promote real school choice.” Hogan also noted, “We have some of the best public schools in Maryland, but also some of the worst. Kids in poor neighborhoods don’t get the same opportunity.” Regarding the question of increasing nonpublic school assistance in the state, Hogan said, “You would have a seat at the table. You make tremendous contributions (to educating children in Maryland)… It (that funding) should be more equitable.” Both candidates expressed support for expanding funding for pre-kindergarten programs in the state, and in making it easier for Catholic schools in Maryland to establish those programs. HELP FOR THE POOR AND FAMILIES Both candidates stressed the importance of government and church partnerships in serving the state’s families, and they praised the Church’s outreach to those in need. Both also emphasized the state’s role in promoting job creation and training opportunities, and the critical need for a safety net for the poor and those who are struggling in the state. “We have overlapping responsibilities – church and religious institutions, and government and public institutions – we serve the same people,” Brown said. “You (the Church) have relationships with and an understanding of people that the government can never replicate.“ He praised the church’s support of the successful effort to raise the minimum wage in Maryland. Hogan pointed out, “If we can turn the economy around, we can lift a lot of families out of poverty.” He said the unemployment and home foreclosure rates in the past eight years, during the O’Malley and Brown administrations, have been too high. The Republican candidate also said, “I think we have a moral imperative to help more (people) in need. We should put more money in that area, to help the least among us.” The Republican candidate noted that he is dedicated to bipartisanship, which marked his service in the administration of former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, when he was involved in the appointment of people to all three branches of government. “These aren’t Republican or Democratic problems… The only way to solve issues is to reach across the aisle,” he said. IMMIGRATION Both candidates noted their immigrant roots, and voiced support for the important roles immigrants have played in our nation’s history. Hogan noted that his grandparents immigrated from Ireland, and his wife is an immigrant from South Korea. “We’re a nation of immigrants, a nation built on immigrants… We’re a melting pot. We’ve always been a beacon of freedom and opportunity,” he said. He said he believes “every child in Maryland deserves a quality education. I haven’t developed a specific education proposal geared toward immigrants.” Speaking of the growing tide of unaccompanied minors facing deportation, Hogan said he blames the president and Congress for failing to come together to pass immigration reform. “Had we sensible immigration policy, this crisis would never have been created. I do not blame parents who wanted a better life for their kids, and I don’t blame children. We do need to have real immigration laws, decide what they are, and enforce them.” The Republican candidate earlier noted, “While we’re a nation of immigrants, we’re also a nation of laws, and we can’t have open borders. It’s not fair to immigrants who came legally, to have so many undocumented workers crossing our borders.” Brown noted that his father grew up poor in Jamaica, and came to the United States, where he studied at Fordham and earned a medical degree. He praised the Catholic Church in Maryland for supporting the DREAM Act, which he said helps make college education more accessible to the state’s youth, regardless of their immigration status. “This is a land of opportunity that was built on immigrants, and that will continue to flourish and do well because of Americans, new and old,” he said. He praised Gov. O’Malley’s efforts to provide social services to unaccompanied minors in the state. “As governor and as policy makers, we have a responsibility to children wherever we find them,” he said. The current immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed, Brown said, adding that deportation enforcement too often has the impact of dividing families, when it should focus on violent offenders. “We ought to be working to keep families together,” he said. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM Both candidates voiced support for the religious freedom and conscience rights of church institutions, and said they would oppose state mandates that would force religious institutions to engage in activity contrary to their beliefs. Brown said he recognized that religious institutions are more than just places of worship, that they also include educational, healthcare and social outreach programs. “I also believe reasonable people can come together to find ways to protect religious institutions to carry out their missions,” he said. “…As governor, I am committed to ensuring those protections for religious institutions.” In his interview, Hogan noted, “The government should not be forcing any faith based groups to abandon their beliefs. Religious freedom is a core of our democracy… I would side 100 percent with the Church in this battle.” RESPECT FOR LIFE Hogan said he is personally opposed to abortion. “Those issues are settled law in Maryland, and I’m not going to impose my faith or personal views on anyone else,” he said, charging that his opponent’s campaign has spent millions of dollars in ads “demonizing” him on that issue. He also said he would consider supporting legislation to require the collection of abortion statistics in Maryland. Brown, who is a strong supporter of abortion rights, said he would oppose such a measure. “If you believe, and many do and I do, that a woman has a fundamental right to make reproductive health choices, including abortion, then those numbers shouldn’t matter. I don’t think it would advance the discussion (in the state) one way or another,” he said. Brown said he would support efforts to promote adoption and foster care, and to reduce domestic violence. Hogan said he would oppose any efforts to legalize assisted suicide in the state. “I believe in the sanctity of human life, and I believe a physician’s role is to save lives, not terminate them,” he said. Brown noted that when he served in Maryland’s House of Delegates, he voted against the assisted suicide ban that is now law in the state. “I don’t see the need to overturn the ban or current law, absent a compelling reason,” he said. Later in his interview with the Catholic journalists, Brown said he opposed an assisted suicide ban when he served as a Maryland state delegate, because “I believe fundamentally that patients, people in a relationship with their provider, their doctor, are best equipped to make decisions about their health and their life.” Overturning the assisted suicide ban is not a priority issue that he would champion as governor, Brown said, but he added, “I’m open to a candid, fair, frank discussion on whether there is a compelling reason to overturn it.” ROOTS OF FAITH Later in the interview with the journalists, the two candidates spoke about the impact of their Catholic faith on their lives. Brown noted that his father, a convert to Catholicism, “always emphasized the importance of service, of serving others.” Growing up, he watched his father serving as a doctor in a poor neighborhood, and “I knew that (serving others) would be an important component of my life.” That desire to serve others, Brown said, inspired him to serve in the U.S. Army, as an attorney providing pro bono service to the poor, and to later serve in the Maryland General Assembly and as the state’s lieutenant governor. Brown said that his children’s Catholic school education, in addition to providing them with a strong academic foundation, has taught them that being a follower of Jesus means serving others. Hogan, a native Washingtonian, noted that he graduated from St. Ambrose School in Cheverly and later attended two years at DeMatha, before his family moved to Florida. “Catholic schooling gave me a certain work ethic and discipline… My faith is something important. I pray every day. Especially on the campaign trail, I ask God for guidance,” he said.
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