Here is a guest post from my friend and frequent reader "Trevor" who attended tonight's Candidate Forum:
I just came from the League of Women Voters forum for the state candidates (State Senate and House of Delegates) for Howard County. I only stayed for my district, District 13. I'm pretty sure my father and I were the only voters there not affiliated with a campaign. Although I felt like a piece of voting meat, it was fun to go and see the candidates in action. Here is my instant analysis. Disclaimer: I am not journalist, and these are simply my OPINIONS. I am not affiliated with any of the campaigns, although that will change after tonight:
James Robey: said more of the same. He said he is proud of Howard County, and really doesn't see any reason to change things. He hinted that he supports bailouts of those in financial trouble on the government's dime, but did not say how he would pay for it. 3/10
Kyle Lorton: Did not impress me. Seemed dour. Gave vague answers. His main positive is that he played football for Maryland. 3/10
Jody Venkatesan: Wow! What a candidate. He was smiling, upbeat, and provided a ton of great ideas for how to improve our state. He gave specifics about the need to help small businesses, and how we can improve referendums in the state. He has a large amount of military experience and experience as an auditor. He was specific with ideas of how he will use his auditing experience to help improve the state government. IMHO, the most impressive candidate of District 13. 9/10
House of Delegates
Delegate Shane Pendergrass: A no-show. I guess her prior commitments were more important than speaking to the voters. 0/10
Delegate Guy Guzzone: Was careful not to say anything that could offend anyone. His two accomplishments he was proud of was getting Route 1 rezoned when he was on the county council and getting himself on the Appropriations Committee. 4/10
Delegate Frank Turner: Holy Moly! If you could vote against people I would vote against him 10 times over after seeing him speak tonight. He said that he is proud to have been in office for the last 12 years (made a career out of it, eh?). And he had the GALL, the utter NERVE, to say that he wants to raise taxes on businesses next year! How on Earth does someone like that keep getting elected? As a small business owner, who pays way too many taxes already, I was really upset when he said that. So, in a time when jobs are the one thing we need more than anything else, Frank Turner wants to enact a job destroying tax increase. Seriously??? -10/10 (yes, that's negative 10).
Loretta Gaffney: She is interesting. She clearly has a lot of potential. I think she was nervous, and for the most part kept her answers short, just one or two sentences. She stated she is in support of creating a more efficient government. She is a fourth generation Howard Countian. 6/10
Ed Priola: I didn't know much about him going into tonight, but he really impressed me. He is a great speaker. He kept his answers clear and concise. He is passionate about term limits. He wants to pass a law that limits people in the legislature to two terms, so that those passing the laws have to live under the laws they pass, and work in the private sector. My only disappointment with him was that he did not attack Frank Turner's comments about serving for 12 years. 8/10
Jeff Robinson: Another candidate with a lot of potential. He has a lot of original ideas that Annapolis really needs. He is very much in favor of the state cutting its spending. He advocated cutting taxes to small businesses in order to foster the growth of jobs. Again, my only disappointment, was that he did not go after Frank Turner for his comments about raising taxes next year. 7/10
J'Neanne Theus: I'm not really sure about her. She really did not say anything of consequence. I felt like she did not prepare well for tonight, and was not sure of herself. She said about 5 times, "I agree with the other candidates." I think she needs to work on her message. 4/10
Overall, I think several of the candidates have potential to grow during the campaign season as they get experience campaigning.
Winner of Night: Jody Venketesen. The only troubles I see him having in the election are 1. his last name is tough to pronounce (Editor's Note: Ven-ka-tay-sen). 2. He is running in a blindly liberal district that has too many people who won't vote for someone with an R next to his/her name.
Loser of the Night: Delegate Frank Tuner. What candidate for anything (dog catcher to President) says they will raise taxes?!?!?! As Usher says, "OMG." I am sad that only about 5% of people in District 13 will ever know that Delegate Turner said this. And of those 5%, 2/3rds will say, "good, we need to raise taxes on those greedy business owners!"
Other Loser of the Night: The League of Women Voters. The questions asked at the forum belonged somewhere between unimportant and downright silly. They asked, "do you support the environment" (answer, duh... of course... who doesn't). They asked, "would you support a law that decreases the violence against women and children." They asked what the candidates thought about referendums. Why didn't they ask, "What is your stance of the projected budget deficit in the state" or "What would you do to promote job growth" or "how does your life prepare you for being a state representative?"
(Me Again: What a great job and a great service to the readers. Thank you, Trevor.)