KENSINGTON – State Sen. Richard Madaleno (D-18) hopes his ideas on education and infrastructure will take him from the legislative to the executive branch in 2018.
Madaleno, 52, a Silver Spring resident and lifelong Marylander, became the fifth candidate to officially declare for the Democratic primary with his announcement on July 17. Also in the race are Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, III, former head of the NAACP Ben Jealous, technology entrepreneur Alec Ross and attorney James Shea. If elected, Madaleno would be the state’s first openly gay governor.
He believes it is time for the state to look “forward to 2050 and not keep fighting about how we get back to 1950.”
“I think right now, we’re at a moment of time where we either embrace the future and all of its challenges or we fight over going backwards to a time that was not necessarily that good for all people, and, I think, is colored by rose-colored glasses,” he said. “I believe now is a pivotal time for someone to use that office to push us forward, to lead us forward. I don’t see Larry Hogan being able to do that, which I why I am putting myself out there, because I believe that I am the one that can do that.”
Madaleno is a 15-year veteran legislator, serving for 11 years in the state senate and four in the House of Delegates. Before that, he held positions in state and county government and earned a master’s in public administration from Syracuse University. He believes his extensive experience in state government sets him apart from the other candidates.
“Of the eight people talking about running, five have never held office before. In this era of Donald Trump and Larry Hogan, the voters can see the downside of having someone come into the top job with no prior experience,” he said. “The relationship I have with the other people that I will be responsible for governing with – we don’t elect a dictator. We elect a governor with checks and balances to govern with the legislature. I know, it’s safe to say, most if not all of the people who will be in the senior positions in the legislature when I’m governor.”
Madaleno said the foundation of Maryland’s strong economy is a talented, skilled workforce and a strong infrastructure system, and that he would work to strengthen both of those assets if elected. To him, the education system includes early childhood services- before a child even enters school – all the way through college or university. He also supports making it easier for young people to gain access to certifications needed for careers in the skilled trades.
“Sen. (Paul) Pinsky and I put in legislation this past year to, among other things, make sure the job training programs that are at community colleges, not just at Prince George’s but around the state, are free to Maryland residents. The whole idea is you can get that certificate that makes you eligible to be a licensed heating and air conditioning technician, or a plumber, or a welder, all these jobs that are available in our economy that provide family-supporting wages,” he said. “We should be aggressive with helping people get those skills.”
He said Maryland’s governor is uniquely equipped with power to set the agenda, moreso than in other states, and he would use that power to improve public education.
“Broadly speaking, our state constitution provides our governor with greater power than any other governor in the country, believe it or not. The governor sets the agenda for the state,” Madaleno said. “We need a governor, on education, who’s going to be pushing for us to embrace the changes that are coming in education policy, which are around the structure of the day, the structure of the school year, the responsibilities that are provided to teachers, the expectations that are held of teachers, all of those things other countries are doing that we have lagged behind.”
Turning to infrastructure, Madaleno said Hogan is focusing his investments in areas where he won the popular vote in spite of the terrible congestion problems in the state’s metropolitan areas.
“We’re building a road to make it easier to get to the Delaware shore. I don’t know why that’s of critical importance to the state when the metropolitan areas are suffering from tremendous congestion,” he said. “There are numerous improvements that have to be made throughout the state that aren’t just bridges and roads, and the governor seems fixated on just building roads in communities that he won as opposed to making the right decisions for the state.”
He was also critical of the way Hogan has handled the Purple Line light rail project, a 16-mile east-west connection between Bethesda and New Carrollton. Madaleno said in his quest to reduce the upfront price tag, Hogan is setting the state up for higher costs in the future as transit ridership increases.
“Gov. Hogan has now left us two ticking time bombs when it comes to the Purple Line: the largest contract in the history of the state, structured in a way that no state has ever done this before. We’re experimenting with a new approach to building infrastructure with the largest contract we’ve ever signed in the state’s history,” Madaleno said. “And, he scaled back the project… So, should the line turn out to be more successful than projected, we are going to have to pay a premium to the contractor to improve the service. We are scaling at the beginning to make it less costly, without a thought to what it will mean for the state in the future in having to expand it.”
Madaleno also said he would support Prince George’s County as governor by providing resources for the public school system as well as the community college, Bowie State University and the University of Maryland, College Park. He would also be an advocate for county needs at the federal level, he said.
“It would be to fight aggressively to stop the Congress and the Trump Administration from making mean-spirited reductions to the federal budget that would cost many people in Prince George’s County their federal jobs, and potentially risk the state sliding into a recession,” he said.