Jon Weinstein sent out an email blast just a little while ago titled “You’re With Us or Against Us! Is this who we want to be?” I highly recommend you give this a read…and in case you don’t make it all the way until the end…this is the part that stuck with me after reading it:
“I have worked hard every day since taking that oath to represent ALL of District 1 – Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, Unaffiliated voters, and people who cannot vote or do not vote. I have worked every minute of every day with their interests in mind and will continue to work until the last day I’m in office on December 3rd.”
Here is the text of the email blast:
You’re With Us or Against Us!
Is this who we want to be?
It’s no secret that I have endorsed County Executive Kittleman for re-election. I expected to be attacked by some and lauded by others, but have chose not to respond until now.
On Monday I received an email with the accusation that by endorsing someone from another party I abrogated my responsibilities as their elected Council member. Ironically, I made the endorsement BECAUSE of my duty as a councilman and my responsibility to District 1 and the county.
Comments like those included in this person’s email are simply a disguised form of hate speech – demonstrating intolerance and a distorted belief that one person or one party or one ideology is better than the other simply based on a label. I truly believe that when we vilify others simply because of their race, religion, national origin, OR political affiliation, we lose a bit our own humanity. This needs to stop our shared future depends on a return to civility.
As I have asked in the past, I beg your indulgence to read through the entirety of both emails. Please note the emails are verbatim, though I did correct a couple grammatical errors in my email.
Dear Mr. Weinstein,
Until you are formally relieved of your term as my representative, you still represent the First District of Howard County. You do not represent your own interests. I voted for you because you ran on a Democratic – not a Republican, not an Independent – platform.
By endorsing Allan Kittleman for Howard County Executive using your perch and exposure as a visible member of the Howard County Council, you took advantage of my vote, along with everyone else who put you in that position. I elected you to make decisions, but not to endorse candidates of the opposite party, particularly when they have a direct line to Governor Hogan, who has a direct line to Vice President Pence and President Trump. Aside from Republican policy that I do not support, there is all the horrific anti-Semitic, anti-Black, anti-women, transphobia, pure hatred and murder that this administration support.
You, by endorsing a member of the Republican Party, are condoning this vision of politics. This isn’t why you were you elected. This is why you lost – you were too cozy with the Republicans and now you are saying your own constituents’ votes don’t matter.
Dear NAME REDACTED,
Thank you for contacting me, though I believe your email reflects the worst part of public discourse today. Your last sentence says it all, “you were too cozy with the Republicans and now you are saying your own constituents’ votes don’t matter.” As you know, we live in a representative democracy and I was elected by people of all parties and people with no party affiliation to represent this district to address issues facing our community and county as a whole. The people I represent are not monolithic, and certainly not all Democrats and hold a wide array of views; in fact, the majority of registered voters in District 1 (about 51-52%) are NOT Democrats. Your statement, when translated, really says, “You must ONLY support the views of your DEMOCRATIC registered constituents and ignore the rest.” Also, you mention, “I voted for you because you ran on a Democratic – not a Republican, not an Independent – platform.” I did NOT run on a Democratic platform, I ran on a pro-District 1, pro-Howard County platform, supporting issues that were important to ALL members of our community as I heard from constituents during the campaign and throughout my years involved in the community. To that end, I have faithfully and dutifully worked to address all the issues which I raised during my campaign.
The day when people expect, or in your case demand blind fealty to a party is when we abandon what is in the interest of the greater good and the Democracy we claim to want to protect. To be blunt, your position is the same as the Tea Party sect of the Republican party… “if you don’t do what we say you’re not welcome.” The result of your position is intolerance of constructive discourse among people with different views and the election of people like Donald Trump. If you think increasing partisanship like your suggesting is the answer to our nation’s problems, then the situation in our country definitely will get worse before getting better.
I condemn in the strongest terms the hate espoused by the person occupying the White House. As a Jew, I am deeply offended by your insinuation that I would support people who are anti-Semitic, anti-black, anti-woman, transphobic, etc… Your specious connection from Allan Kittleman to Governor Hogan and the President and Vice President is lazy and devoid of critical thought. I know Allan Kittleman well and his beliefs and actions are the furthest thing from any of your “anti” statements. He has worked hard to address many of the issues here in Howard County and in Maryland when he was in the Senate; breaking with his party when in the Maryland Senate to vote FOR marriage equality and FOR banning the death penalty in our state.
What are the specific policies or actions that Mr. Kittleman has undertaken that have hurt District 1 or our county? Did you bother to consider why I might support one candidate over the other after I’ve worked closely with both for four years? Before you claim “sour grapes” or some other weak argument, I’ll provide you a few factual reasons. Mr. Kittleman has:
- Willingly and actively worked with elected officials from both parties (including ALL four Democrats on the County Council) to achieve results for Howard County. In fact, Democratic Senator Ben Cardin referred to Executive Kittleman as the “captain of Team Howard” for his actions following the Ellicott City floods, commending him for his bi-partisanship and leadership, calling it a model for the rest of the country. I certainly hope you will be voting for Senator Cardin’s re-election, as I have.
- Established #OneHoward to encourage and facilitate constructive community dialogues to address issues and incidents of hate and intolerance in our county. Dozens of sessions and facilitator training sessions have taken place since the program was started in 2015. He even broke with his party when in the Maryland Senate to vote FOR marriage equality and FOR banning the death penalty in our state. Mr. Kittleman is even endorsed by leaders in the Howard County NAACP, including former Presidents of the organization.
- Raised the minimum salary of county workers to a living wage level AND converted “contingent” employees with no benefits to full-time status with benefits. The practice of hiring contingent employees without benefits grew significantly under the two previous Democratic County Executives.
- Preserved and expanded parkland in the county, moving forward stalled construction or expansion projects in parks like Troy Hill and Blandair, and preventing use of Rockburn Park for non-park purposes.
- Held up residential development and reduced the overuse of waivers that allowed developers to avoid adhering to restrictions on development. Specifically, he denied requests that would have allowed two large development projects to move forward in the Ellicott City watershed. He even supported both of the building moratoriums I filed following each of the 2016 and 2018 floods. I did not even have the support of the majority of Council members for the moratorium after the 2016 flood. I encourage you look at the performance of previous County Executives in the area of development in the 8-12 years before Mr. Kittleman was elected, including his current opponents votes on the County Council and Zoning Board related to increased density and development.
- Addressed long-delayed and overlooked projects that have languished for years, if not decades, including:
- redeveloping the decaying Long Reach Village Center,
- building a new courthouse that has been insufficient for decades
- funding a new high school, building a new senior center, library and fire station in Elkridge – projects that were long-delayed and underfunded
- preserving the Harriet Tubman school, the county’s last segregated high school, and turning it into a cultural center, and
- Building a community pool in Laurel that has been requested for over 20 years.
- Co-sponsored (with me) legislation to increase the police department’s ability to fight human trafficking.
- Established policies to support increasing local business that do business with Howard County, including increasing requirements for contracting with minority and women-owned businesses.
- I won’t go into detail about the time, energy, and resources he has committed to saving Ellicott City following the two floods, literally including his own blood, sweat and tears. One of his first executive actions, working with me in the month between the 2014 election and being sworn in, was to create a work group of citizens and relevant county offices to address flooding in the town. His commitment for EC is immeasurable.
As you said, “Until you are formally relieved of your term as my representative, you still represent the First District of Howard County.” I certainly don’t need a reminder of the oath I took. I take this oath as seriously as the two oaths I swore when I joined the Army and married my wife of 28 years. I have worked hard every day since taking that oath to represent ALL of District 1 – Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, Unaffiliated voters, and people who cannot vote or do not vote. I have worked every minute of every day with their interests in mind and will continue to work until the last day I’m in office on December 3rd. I hope you’ll take the time to consider the intolerance embedded in your email and consider how a different approach and tone may be what our community and this country needs.
I am curious on your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.