Students hosting a gubernatorial form at the Universities at Shady Grove got stood up Monday by all but one candidate for governor and one for lieutenant governor.
Heather R. Mizeur (D), Douglas F. Gansler (D), David R. Craig (R) and Charles Lollar (R) were all scheduled to speak at the forum.
But only Craig and Lollar’s running mate, Ken Timmerman (R), showed.
Mizeur and Gansler — the two Montgomery County residents in the race — both had last-minute scheduling conflicts that forced them to cancel on the students Monday morning, their campaign representatives said.
“I wasn’t expecting last-minute cancellations. I was being too optimistic,” said Carlos Moya, president of the Political Science Student Organization at USG, which hosted the event. “But I know that politics can get in the way. I am hoping we can have another forum.”
Moya said the organization hosted the forum with the intent to have both parties represented. He said they invited all the candidates running for governor in 2014 to participate. He also said he would like to try again to host a forum where Democratic candidates for governor can attend.
Lollar was unable to attend because he was out of town. Timmerman did not pass on the opportunity to criticize the Democrats who canceled on the students Monday morning.
“I’m a bit disappointed some of our Democratic adversaries, opponents, colleagues did not show up this morning to account for their record,” Timmerman said in his opening speech.
When asked later, he said it would have been good to exchange points of view, to hear what other candidates had to say.
At least with Craig and for Lollar, the students and community members who attended were informed of where those candidates and their running mates stand on issues, said Alfredo Ballon, past president of the Political Science Students Organization.
“We understand,” he said of the cancellations. “We were sad to hear they could not make it, but we are thankful that both County Executive Craig and lieutenant governor [candidate] Timmerman were here.”
Students questioned Craig and Timmerman on a broad set of issues ranging from education, marijuana legalization and the minimum wage, to the state budget shortfall, taxes and transportation.
As a Harford County executive, Craig said, he has lowered taxes, grew jobs and also maintained programs. “It can be done,” he said.
Timmerman promised that if Lollar is elected, their administration would phase out the income tax, as well as repeal the gas tax and halt the Purple Line.
A 16-mile light-rail line proposed to connect Bethesda to New Carrollton, the Purple Line is a “two-billion-dollar boondoggle,” Timmerman said.
“The only thing light about light rail is its capacity,” he said.
When asked about closing the achievement gap, Craig, a former teacher, said the key to education is for teachers to be allowed to teach. “We do not want to air-drop policies from Annapolis,” Timmerman said.