The growing candidate list for District 16’s 2014 delegate election has seen many faces, some new, some old.
It has been seven years since Gareth E. Murray (D) was a delegate for District 20 from 2003-2007. However, he decided to return to a life of elected office, and in September, officially filed for candidacy in District 16’s delegate election.
The seat was left vacant when former Delegate Susan C. Lee (D) filed for candidacy in July for District 16’s state senator seat.
Murray’s previous delegate run ended when he was appointed the Director of Legislative Affairs and Communications for the Maryland Higher Education Commission. He served that position until January 2013, but has kept busy since. As the owner of Spirit Ventures LLC, Murray has been providing entrepreneurial ventures in telecommunications and real estate, while also spending time at The First Baptist Church of Silver Spring as an assistant pastor.
Murray, 66, a Potomac resident and native Baltimorean, said education is his top priority. For Murray, the amount of school funding coming from the state is not enough, and he said he supports allocating more money to Montgomery County schools.
Specifically, Murray wants to make college more affordable and accessible. He said it is important to keep tuition manageable, as higher learning is crucial to success in today’s job market.
Murray, who received his master of arts degree in psychology at the University of Maryland and earned his doctorate from Cornell University, is a proponent of the Middle College Program. Murray said the program would give high schools the resources to have graduating seniors receive both their high school diploma and associate of arts degree at the same time.
His support behind the program is based on the Maryland statute that allows those who finish community college in Maryland to attend any four-year public institution in the state. He acknowledged Montgomery County College’s current work within high schools around the area, but said it is not enough and there needs to be a more structured approach.
Murray said the Middle College Program would be a ticket to a four-year institution. He also said it would cost significantly less to earn an associate of arts degree for a student who is still in high school.
“The Middle College approach will allow the county to put students on a fast track to college without having to worry about the quality of graduating students,” Murray said. Murray, who was the primary caregiver for both of his parents, also put senior citizens as a priority issue. He plans to push for stronger programs of assisted living that will “maintain the dignity and respect [senior citizens] deserve.”
Murray’s other priorities include cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, while understanding and capitalizing on the economic impact of the Bay and its tributaries. He has also put transportation on his list, and making it more affordable for businesses to locate near transit centers.
Murray is one of 11 candidates in this year’s District 16 race. He is up against Jordan Cooper (D), Peter Dennis (D), Bill Frick (D), Hrant Jamgochian (D), Ariana Kelly (D), Marc Korman (D), Karen Kuker-Kihl (D), John Andrews (R), Lynda del Castillo (R), and Maria Rose Li (R). District 16 includes Bethesda and Potomac.