Cumberland Times-News

Local News

June 18, 2014

Gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur visits city

— CUMBERLAND — The middle class deserves to have its voice heard in Annapolis and Del. Heather Mizeur said that if she is elected governor of Maryland, she’ll make sure that happens.

“For too long it’s been corporate and special interests and the wealthy who have had their voices heard in Annapolis,” Mizeur said. “We are going to return Annapolis to the people.” After a small business tour in downtown Cumberland on Wednesday, Mizeur made a stump speech touching on several issues to a group of about 30 supporters standing outside Democratic headquarters on Baltimore Street.

Mizeur takes pride in being the first gubernatorial campaign in 20 years to use public funding. Her campaign does not accept corporate or special interest contributions, she said. Mizeur is a candidate in the Democratic primary. If she would become governor she would be Maryland’s first female and openly gay governor.

“We’re not running to make history, we’re running to make a difference,” Mizeur said. “No one has to guess what a Mizeur administration would look like,” Mizeur, who has taken specific positions on the issues, said.

Mizeur said raising the minimum wage to a living wage, while providing tax relief to small businesses and middle-class households would be a winning combination for the economy. Mizeur would also close tax loopholes for large corporations. While the tax relief for the middle class would amount to about $200 a year, Mizeur said putting money back in the people’s hands will allow them to spend the money and drive the economy.

The tax cuts would start for those making $250,000 or less, but most of the benefits would accrue to those making $150,000 or less, Mizeur said. She would also increase taxes on the very wealthy.

While  many of her small business tax cuts and incentives would be instituted immediately, her proposal to raise the minimum wage to $16.70 by 2022 would be implemented in increments to give business time to adjust and benefit from increased spending.

While Lee Schwartz of The Book Center said he’d like to pay his employees more, he didn’t see how his business could survive such a significant minimum wage increase. Mizeur and Schwartz talked as she visited downtown businesses.

“Small business is the backbone of the community, Mizeur said.

The kittens at The Book Center got Mizeur’s attention. “Oh my gosh, they have kittens,” Mizeur said. Schwartz displays kittens available for adoption from the local animal shelter at his store. Schwartz said 219 kittens have been adopted from his store over time. Mizeur also owns a dog.

At Mr. Toad’s Pottery, Mizeur talked with store employees Vanessa Hughes and Morgann Moser. Mizeur said she was impressed by the area’s thriving arts community. “It’s one of the reasons I’m still here,” Hughes said. A strong arts community is a key to economic development, Mizeur said.

Mizeur opposes fracking for natural gas unless its safety can be proven by those seeking to drill for natural gas trapped in Marcellus Shale in Western Maryland.

“We don’t want to be like every other state in the region and drill first, ask questions later,” Mizeur said. The environmental risks of drilling are too great, she said. As an alternative for economic growth, Mizeur touted her plan to provide small business tax relief, “which will benefit every portion of this state.”

Legalizing and taxing marijuana is also in Mizeur’s platform. “Maryland’s war on drugs has been a failure,” Mizeur said. Law enforcement should be focused on the pursuit and incarceration of dangerous criminals and not on marijuana users. State regulation would protect young people from a drug that can hurt developing minds, she said.

“No drug dealer cards you for an ID,” Mizeur said. By conservative estimates, the state could bring in $160 million a year in taxes that could be put into childhood education programs through a marijuana tax.

Mizeur was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2006 and had served on the Takoma Park City Council. She and her spouse own a small business in Silver Spring and an organic farm on the Eastern Shore.

Mizeur believes the mo-mentum of the campaign is in her favor and that undecided voters are breaking heavily in her favor. “We knew we would peak at the end,” Mizeur said. “We’ve been outspent but not outnumbered or outworked,” Mizeur said.

Her limited funds meant that her television and radio ads would run as the primary election approached.

“We’re on fire,” Mizeur told her supporters. “If Eric Cantor can lose in Virginia, Heather Mizeur can ... win in Maryland,” Mizeur said.

The primary election is June 24.

Mizeur’s website, including extensive comments on issues she considers important, is at www.heathermizeur.com.

Matthew Bieniek can be contacted at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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