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Property owner harvests Trappe's oldest forest to dismay of some

TRAPPE — The trucks and bulldozers arrived at the old forest off Piney Hill Road around mid-September.

Johnson Lumber was there to harvest the trees, some of which were considered old growth, or more than 150 years old. It was private property, and the landowner had insisted on the harvest. Besides, he wasn’t breaking any laws.

It didn’t take long for the trees to fall, for the stumps to appear, and for the environmentalists and nature enthusiasts to show up in renewed protest.

The harvest infuriated Joan Maloof, executive director of the Old Growth Forest Network chapter in Easton, an organization dedicated to preserving forests across the nation. She traveled to the forest one night and stood in the clearing, looking at the broken land and shuddering, “heartbroken at all the dead stumps” and feeling ashamed that humans had cut the trees down.

“These forests are precious to the next generation, and even if they’re not legally protected we should be trying to preserve some of them,” she said. “We have plenty of young, second- and third-growth forests around here. We don’t have to cut these old growth forests that could have been park land.”

Her organization estimates that “less than 5% of Western and only a fraction of 1% of Eastern original forests, on average, remain standing.” Old-growth forests are historical and they store more carbon and protect more wildlife, the organization says.

Foster is entirely within his legal rights to harvest trees on his own property. Still, environmentalists and some Trappe residents have flocked to the argument that more should be done to protect ancient forests and natural areas that may never grow to be that old again. They point to this scenario as an example: anyone can buy property somewhere and tear it down if they wish. Many are questioning whether there should be more regulations to protect important natural areas.

Foster bought the 423-acre property in Trappe for $3.2 million on March 24. Frankford Farm, beginning at 4084 Smiths Mill Road, previously had been owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Washington Stake.

Foster, who owns multiple farms across the Delmarva Peninsula, wanted it for agricultural land. He needed the trees cleared for more open farm space. The money from selling the wood was a bonus.

Foster ordered 57 acres of timber cut. Johnson Lumber was eager for the job.

“On a scale of one to 10, the job is probably a nine,” said Alan Johnson, the owner of Johnson Lumber. “This has been a planned harvest for a few months. We weren’t just sent here to cut it down.”

There was a months-long effort by the Old Growth Forest Network to sway Foster with an easement — essentially trying to buy him off. But Foster, 92, said he did not want to be told what to do. No set price was put on the table, and the talks died down fast.

Foster declined to comment on this story.

Maloof brought Calvin Yowell from the Izaak Walton League, Matt Pluta from ShoreRivers and multiple concerned residents into the fight, including those who had property adjacent to the old forest. After failing to convince Foster, they contacted the county and Maryland Department of the Environment, but the planned timber harvest was not in a critical area, they were told.

At the county level, the Talbot County Department of Planning and Zoning exempts all timber harvests under the Chapter 73 Forest Conservation code. Since the operation does not result in construction or other developments, the county has no say to stop it. The age of a forest is not considered.

“It’s a forest now, and it will be a forest after,” Elisa Deflaux, a planner for the county, said. “If it was a Home Depot (being built), they’d have to do a forest conservation plan, but this is exempt. It will be monitored by a forester.”

After filling out a declaration of intent and earning an exempt status from the county, Johnson Lumber’s designated forester James Finnegan inspected the property and decided part of the 73 acres of the forest would not be cut. There was an eagle’s nest on the property that is exempt, and a 50-foot buffer between the Miles Creek and the planned timber harvest.

Finnegan submitted a harvest plan to the Talbot Soil Conservation District, which approved the plan on July 21.

The Soil Conservation District, an arm of the state, only looks at the harvest plan to determine it is addressing any potential water quality or endangered species issues.

“We don’t distinguish between an old-growth designation and a non-old-growth designation,” said Shawn Smith, district manager for the Talbot Soil Conservation District. “We look at it, if it is a harvestable product, and if it is environmentally protective. We don’t do anything different for old growth forests.”

Maloof said that process is flawed. On the Eastern Shore, only two other forests are deemed old growth: the 114-acre Schoolhouse Woods in Queen Anne’s County and five acres of the Pocomoke State Forest.

“As far as what’s left on private land, we don’t really know,” she said. “We need to think about not only the animals but the humans that come after, too. If somebody is going to cut an older forest, there should be some way for local people to learn about that and see that forest. And if the community decides yes, then perhaps you’d have the opportunity to pay the landowner for the value of preserving that forest.”

Roughly 20% of the forest is considered old growth, according to Finnegan, Johnson Lumber’s forester. But Maloof says anything older than 80 years is a mature and aged tree, which would make most of the property “old growth.”

While there are no rare trees in the forest, it has a diverse collection of them including ironwood, sassafras and American holly.

Paul Spitzer, an avid bird watcher and ecologist who has lived in Trappe for 25 years, said he spends much of his time hiking through the forests.

Spitzer was distraught when he heard about the harvest. He compiled a document listing all the birds in the forest. None were endangered but the species are unique wildlife nonetheless, he said — including the bald eagle, a belted kingfisher and the great horned owl.

“If you could put a single sentence into four words: a huge missed opportunity,” Spitzer said. “These birds will have to go somewhere else and see if they can fit in. They are species that are found in mature forests on the Eastern Shore. A great deal of land has been converted into agriculture here and (old growth forests) are almost a legend now.”

Johnson defended the harvest. He said the forest will regenerate naturally and the cut forest will attract a lot of other wildlife.

“People need to understand forestry has been a practice that has been around,” he said. “It’s a renewable resource. The people who get most upset live in a wooden house, using wooden products everyday. I don’t understand the mentality of that.”

The U.S. Forest Service issued a report in 2003 that warned against current state and federal policies allowing for forests to be cut, such as what happened in Trappe, deeming them inadequate to protect old-growth forests.

“Under current federal policies, mature forests, which are the source of future old growth, would decline over the long term,” the report read. “Forest diversity is necessary if we are to retain or restore the full range of habitats and ecological functions in forests.”

Maloof agrees. She said she is not opposed to cutting forests, and only wishes to maintain what she thinks should be a “critical area” in the future.

“Data shows that plant communities never fully recover (after a cut), and we have a lot of invasive species coming in,” she said. “If you cut that forest a couple hundred years ago, it might have recovered better than it will now. We have a lot more extreme weather than we used to. I doubt that forest will ever recover to what it once was.”


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Harris on COVID-19, revving up the economy and race relations

The following is an in-person interview conducted with Maryland 1st Congressional District Congressman and Republican Party nominee Andy Harris on Sept. 25. Harris and Democratic challenger Mia Mason face off in the November election for the congressional seat representing the Eastern Shore.

While several counties/communities in the district are doing well on the economic development front, others are struggling with the loss of industries/populations. What would you do to help improve economic development and growth to those areas in the district most in need, and what additional measures can be done at the federal level to enhance economic development in the district?

Andy Harris: There are some counties on the Eastern Shore that certainly are lagging behind other counties in the district. What we have to do first of all, just on the national level, we have to make sure we get the economy going again. The economy was going very well before the COVID pandemic. We have got to get it back on track. Part of the post COVID environment is going to be actually attracting some of the manufacturing back to the U.S. I think there are counties on the Eastern Shore that are ideal sites for attracting some of that business back to the U.S.

The other thing we need to do, we need to make sure we don’t hurt the other industries on the Shore, whether it is the tourism industry, the watermen industry or the agriculture industry. We have to make sure the federal government doesn’t get in the way of allowing those industries to prosper in the recovery.

We have had record increases in median family income in the U.S. and in the 1st Congressional District before the COVID pandemic and we need to return to that kind of economy

What is your position on how the COVID-19 pandemic is being handled by the State of Maryland and nationally? If placed in charge of COVID-19 related responses what would you handle differently?

AH: The most important thing to remember is this is a novel coronavirus. This has not been seen on the earth before last year. So we really had no experience whatsoever with it. We have had experiences with related coronaviruses, but not with the one that causes COVID-19 as a disease. No one knew what was the right thing to do because we have never seen this before.

At the federal level, precautions were taken. I think some of the most important precautions were stopping international travel since we knew this virus originated in China, spread to Europe and then spread to the U.S., stopping international travel was important.

Beyond that, the most important thing the federal government could do was to accelerate the development of treatments and vaccines so that we could shorten, to the greatest extent possible, the duration of this pandemic. That is exactly what we are doing with Operation Warp Speed, which is going to have, I believe, a licensed vaccine before the end of the year, which means probably by next summer we can return almost to a state of normal, which is so important to the economy of the Eastern Shore.

On the state level, the important thing was for the governor to monitor how the state was doing, and once the lockdowns were imposed, to engage how quickly we could come out of the lockdowns. I thought we waited a little too long to come out of the spring lockdown. Since the Eastern Shore economy is so dependent on the summer season, I thought we could have come out a little earlier. We did come out and I think we came out fairly safely. The bottom line is in Maryland we came out without stressing our health system really at all. Stopping elective procedures was a financial strain on our health system, but we did not fill our hospitals and we did not have patients who couldn’t get care because of healthcare system constraints for COVID-19.

What would I have done differently? Given that we didn’t know much about this last year, we were all learning at the same time, it is easy to play Monday morning quarterback, but the fact of the matter is we have passed the spike in deaths in the country. Our rate of hospitalizations has gone way down, our death rate has gone way down. All the trends are in the right direction, with the development of therapeutics and, I believe by the end of the year, licensing of a vaccine.

People have to realize how significant Operation Warp Speed was to cut through the red tape of product development and vaccine development and therapy development yet preserving the safety and efficacy requirements that the FDA has. Being in the federal government for awhile, you learn there is a lot of red tape that can come out of Washington. Some of that red tape is not necessary, some regulation is. Obviously the FDA needs to ensure that drugs are safe and efficacious, but there can be a lot of red tape that slows down drug and vaccine development that is not necessary.

The government is making the investment of producing the vaccines as they are being researched and in the regulatory approval process. This usually doesn’t occur. There is usually a one-year lag time or so, but in this case one year is tens of thousands of lives. The decision was made, and I think it was the right decision, to go ahead and produce these vaccines in parallel with testing the vaccines.

Now some of the vaccines are not going to pan out and we will have spent money producing them that is never going to be used, but that is OK, because I am convinced several of them are going to pan out and we are going to have hundreds of millions of doses by early next year.

Issues relating to race and class have been a challenge historically for the Eastern Shore as well as the country as a whole and continues to be a topic of conversation due to ongoing rallies and protests throughout the region. In your opinion, how much of a problem still exists with respect to racism and what needs to be done to help resolve these issues, not only in the 1st District, but also nationwide?

AH: So look, racism exists, everyone realizes it exists. The question is whether or not it exists to an extent in this country that is greater than other countries in any way? I don’t think that is true. I think we have led in opposing racism and in dealing with racism.

Are we perfect on this? No we are not perfect, but we are far better than many other places in the world. For instance, in some places slavery still exists and we passed that 150 years ago.

What we have to do first off, we have to realize that in response to the George Floyd killing and other things that peaceful protests are always welcome in this country. No question about it. Non-peaceful protests should not be welcome. This is a country of law and order and we should respect the fact that peaceful protest does not include looting. It does not include what we could call rioting. It does not include destruction and it certainly doesn’t involve injuring other people.

To deal with some of the issues that have been brought up over this past six-months, I think what we need to do is we need better training for our law enforcement. Not to defund police, but to actually increase funding to the police departments so that they can have the training, for instance, in crisis deescalation, in cultural understanding. The are things you train your way out of, you don’t defund your way out of.

Are we a perfect nation? No we are not, but we are still the best nation on the Earth and I believe we are one of the least racist nations on the Earth, but there is room for improvement. If we all agree peacefully, we can all do it together.

One issue that has come up on the Eastern Shore is removal of various statues. My position is that we should use the opportunity, instead of taking down these statues, to educate people, to provide historic context, perhaps to put up companion statues that show the contrast and lead to historical education.

I think tearing down statues actually might divide more than it might unite and this is what we see around the country. As statues are torn down it actually creates more division to some extent than less division. We should not deny our history.

Overall, we should be very proud of American history. We have brought democracy and freedom to places on the earth where it has never existed. There are more place where we will bring it to. We have been at the forefront of doing that for two centuries now. We are not perfect, but we are very, very good.

Agriculture is one of the primary industries on the Eastern Shore, but there is evidence that some farming practices have a detrimental effect on the health of the Chesapeake Bay. How do you propose balancing the needs of one of our most important industries with our most cherished natural resource?

AH: Fortunately, Maryland has been at the forefront of a cooperative partnership between the agricultural community and the environmental community with regard to preserving the Chesapeake Bay. We have nutrient management programs in place for 20 years now. The bottom line is there is no farmer who wants to put more fertilizer on their crop than it needs to have to absolutely grow that crop. Maryland farmers agree with that. The problem is not Maryland right now, the problem is upstream states like Pennsylvania and New York that don’t have those good agriculture practices.

We can’t look to Maryland farmers to solve the entire problem of the Chesapeake Bay. We have to look to a cooperative agreement that does exist between states that is overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency. That will drive Pennsylvania and New York to decrease the amount of nutrients that is put in the Susquehanna River, for instance, that then flow into the Bay and contribute to bay pollution.

We have to thank our Maryland farmers for being that cooperative and keep our eyes on making sure that our neighbors are not affecting the Bay. They (neighbors) don’t live on the Bay, but the actions of those communities upstream from Maryland certainly do affect the Bay.

I think our farmers are good stewards of the land. I think they want to preserve the Chesapeake Bay. It is part of the culture of the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I think they are doing a very good job doing it. Our poultry industry industry is cooperating very, very well. Maryland is not the major problem with the Chesapeake Bay.

Health care, especially as it pertains to the loss of medical services in rural areas is an issue on the Eastern Shore and nationally. What do you think needs to be done to address the challenges prevalent with respect to rural health care especially as it pertains to lack of available coverage in some areas?

AH: There are a couple of things we have to do. It is true that it is hard to get health providers into rural areas. We have to put programs in place at the state and national level that encourage providers to work in a rural area.

The first thing we need to do is make sure our federally qualified health centers are fully funded. These are the centers throughout the Eastern Shore that provide healthcare, not only to people who are at the lower end of the economic spectrum, but really everyone who cannot find another source of healthcare.

The second thing we need to do is we need to make sure we don’t provide incentives for healthcare providers to work in urban areas. Unfortunately, through the Medicare program we actually provide that incentive by paying less to providers who work in a rural area. This doesn’t make much sense. I understand the cost of living is higher in an urban area, but what you are doing is you are attracting healthcare providers to go to that urban area because of higher rates of payment. We have to change Medicare policy on that.

The third thing we have to do is we have to establish, preserve and expand the programs that provide student loan paybacks for healthcare providers that are willing to work in an underserved or rural area. This is very important, it is very significant because without these programs we would have even fewer providers.

The last thing we have to do is realize is that if we are not training enough Americans to do the job of providing healthcare, then we have to relax the rules to allow healthcare providers in sectors of the healthcare economy where we are lacking to come into U.S. and participate in those rural communities. There are programs in the Department of State that do that. We have to make sure those programs are maintained as long as necessary until we can train enough Americans to fulfill those needs.

Rural healthcare environment is very different from the healthcare environment in an urban setting.

What other issues would you like to discuss that you feel are relevant to the district, or your candidacy?

AH: As a veteran, we need to make sure that we continue the progress we have made to provide adequate care to our veterans. I know that in the last four years we have added Veteran’s Choice which is very important to our veterans on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Prior to that, (veterans) had to wait long times or travel long distances to get their healthcare. Now they have a choice to get that healthcare locally or to go to a Veteran’s Administration hospital across the bridge.

We have to continue on what I call the “reasonable regulatory pathway” so that we don’t over-regulate our agriculture industry out of business or our poultry industry out of business because these are very important industries on the Eastern Shore. We live in a global economic environment where if we handicap these industries through over-regulation we will lose these industries on the Eastern Shore.

We need to make sure we have enough temporary work visas. I am proud to be the head of the H2B coalition in the House of Representatives that makes sure that when we can’t find Americans for temporary work in the 1st Congressional District, most importantly summer jobs, we will have temporary farm workers come in to take those jobs. Those temporary farm workers go home after the season. They pay taxes. They pay payroll taxes. They pay Medicare and Social Security taxes even though they will never receive Medicare or Social Security. These are win-win employees for the district and we have to make sure we take care of them.

Finally, we have to make sure that since Second Amendment rights are so important to rural areas like the Eastern Shore, we have to make sure we don’t impair anyone’s Second Amendment rights to defend themselves with a firearm if necessary. I have always been a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights.

It has been an honor to serve the 1st Congressional District for nine and a half years now. Sitting on the Appropriations Committee, on the Agriculture Sub-Committee is important for protecting those bedrock industries of our Eastern Shore economy, agriculture and poultry. Without those two industries the economy would collapse because so many areas of the economy depend on those two industries.


Local_news
breaking featured
Maryland reports no new COVID-19 deaths for first time since March 28

ANNAPOLIS — For the first time since March, Maryland is reporting no new COVID-19 deaths.

Gov. Larry Hogan said today there were no new COVID deaths for the first time since March 28. That was 187 days ago, according to Hogan.

“Today, for the first time since March 28, the State of Maryland is reporting zero new coronavirus deaths. This encouraging milestone is a tribute to the incredibly heroic efforts of our doctors, nurses, and health care workers on the front lines, and the courage and perseverance Marylanders have demonstrated in response to this unprecedented challenge, Hogan said in a statement. “We have lost more than 3,800 of our fellow Marylanders to this virus, and we mourn with their families. As we continue on our road to recovery, it is absolutely critical for all of us to remain vigilant.”

Hogan has recently issued orders allowing restaurants to expand their indoor capacity and for school districts to start bringing back high school sports.

In Talbot County, there have been nine COVID-19 deaths, according to the county health department.

There have been 125,510 total COVID cases in Maryland and 3,805 deaths, according to the Maryland Department of Health. The health agency reported 785 new cases today and that there are 331 coronavirus patients currently in hospitals statewide.

Maryland ranks 15th among U.S. states for COVID-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. New York and New Jersey have had the most COVID deaths with 33,135 and 16,122, respectively. There have been 207,008 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. and 1,105,107 worldwide as of Oct. 1, according to Johns Hopkins.


Local_news
Mason faults Harris on COVID-19, race and pushes for D.C. to Ocean City rail along Route 50

The following is an in-person interview conducted with Maryland 1st Congressional District Democratic Party Nominee Mia Mason on Sept. 16. Mason is challenging U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st, for his congressional seat in the November. The district includes the Eastern Shore.

While several counties/communities in the district are doing well on the economic development front, others are struggling with the loss of industries/populations. What would you do to help improve economic development and growth to those areas in the district most in need, and what additional measures can be done at the federal level to enhance economic development in the district?

Mia Mason: Currently there is a plan for 2021 for neighborhood revitalization. Our district has about six different regions that comprise that. The outline of this program is to help our communities with manufacturing, help them with jobs, help them with the healthcare issues that they have. What I can do on the federal level is to be able to provide federal block grants so that this program is fully funded, because the state of Maryland is currently shortchanged due to the current budget crisis with the pandemic. I think this would be something that we can work together with other house leaders and then work with our Senators to pass because this is something that is happening across the entire nation.

What is your position on how the COVID-19 pandemic is being handled by the State of Maryland and nationally? If placed in charge of COVID-19 related responses what would you handle differently?

MM: The best thing that we have seen is our governor stand up against President Trump. Because he (Gov. Larry Hogan) was sued by our opponent, Rep. (Andy) Harris, he has had to revert back to a lot of things. He provided a three-phase plan that the other governors and even federal leaders did not have. So the governor did do a good job there.

As far as implementing it and getting it done faster than the federal government, that is where Gov. Hogan has failed. Because I know my opponent sides with the President, the conspiracy theories, the whole anti-masking and everything else is completely detrimental to our healthcare providers and our healthcare workers. It put them at risk. It definitely put nurses and doctors into the COVID ward and the ICU where they ended up with COVID themselves and it could have been prevented.

Instead of hunting for PPE (personal protective equipment) to sell to other states, we could have used the PPE and reduced the COVID numbers in this state drastically, if it was implemented back in January or February versus mid to late March.

Those were the things that I see for leadership that can change. I am all about making sure that we get rid of bad leaders and Andy Harris was one of those bad leaders because he went from Frederick all the way down to Salisbury to basically reopen Maryland, force our schools to reopen too soon and even wanted to try to have them open before the school year ended because he did not believe in the science or the deaths.

Currently five out of the nine counties on the Eastern Shore have double the rate of COVID cases than anywhere else in the state. So if you are going down Route 50 from Queens Anne (county)/the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Ocean City, it is a COVID hotspot continuously along that route. We see the same issues in other states, like in the corridor of Louisiana on Route 10, these are the problems that we see where people are just moving from state to state, that they are not taking the safeguards required to wear masks properly. The places where there are no restrictions and they want to debunk the science about this pandemic has completely failed us.

So with that failed leadership, he (Harris) has worked against our health care workers, our teachers and our communities and desperately has degraded the technology in our communities that needed it years ago by voting against our communities.

With that we are now in phase three. I know there is a rush for a vaccine, however, we need to make sure that is a quality instead of quantity measure and that is a safest way to make sure we get a vaccine, by not rushing the process or circumventing the FDA or CDC guidelines to basically get this done before Election Day.

Issues relating to race and class have been a challenge historically for the Eastern Shore as well as the country as a whole and continues to be a topic of conversation due to ongoing rallies and protests throughout the region. In your opinion, how much of a problem still exists with respect to racism and what needs to be done to help resolve these issues, not only in the 1st District, but also nationwide?

MM: I think racism is real. It is fueled by the President and Representative Harris. When our communities are out looking for a job it takes a Caucasian applicant about 10 times to get the resume through and about 15 times more for a person of African-American descent. I heard that on the radio and I was like “wow that is really disheartening.”

There are ways for our employers to not be biased by their (applicants) name, their gender, their sex or their race at all. That is to comply with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and make sure that our civil rights are protected. To be able to do this we must take the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bring it forward through the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment), which has passed the House (of Representatives) and is sitting on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk and get that passed in our first 100 days once elected. So that we can make sure we will no longer be faced with four years of legal battles where the president has fired people by tweet, calls for bans by tweet, wanted to build a wall by tweet, wanted to tell people what they should be doing and hurt people at his rallies.

Rep. Harris did the same thing when he went on his reopen Maryland rally to incite this throughout the entire state of Maryland. So he shares the same views as the President and he (the President) has attacked everybody of nation of origin, color, creed, religion, gender identity and sex, since day one in 2017. We need to make sure that this racism, this fueling (of racism) is ended. There is a lot of reform that needs to happen with diversity by restoring the equity throughout our district and our country. This is why we must stand united with Vice President Joe Biden for his election this coming November.

Agriculture is one of the primary industries on the Eastern Shore, but there is evidence that some farming practices have a detrimental effect on the health of the Chesapeake Bay. How do you propose balancing the needs of one of our most important industries with our most cherished natural resource?

MM: Agriculture is super important, they (farmers) are currently seeing the same prices they did back in the 1970s. I hope to work with the governor and our other Congressional leaders to provide decriminalization and legalization of a product called hemp, which can provide us the manufacturing and stability for jobs there. With the taxes and revenues created by this legalization process, our counties, cities and the state of Maryland can actually revamp the infrastructure of all of these family farms that have been around since the 1700s and provide them with industrial drainage and proper sewage versus dumping it into our rivers and into our Bay.

In Berlin, Maryland we did a recent town hall where their biggest concern was sewage flooding and it wasn’t because of a storm, it was just something that happened whenever it rained.

Health care, especially as it pertains to the loss of medical services in rural areas is an issue on the Eastern Shore and nationally. What do you think needs to be done to address the challenges prevalent with respect to rural health care especially as it pertains to lack of available coverage in some areas?

MM:Kent County had a hospital that closed down. The hardest thing for them in Kent County is that if you are in Rock Hall it is a two-hour drive to get anywhere to actual community services.

The Eastern Shore only has one major provider besides parts of Medicare, if you are of age to receive it. I think that with our stepping stones to build Medicare for all, we can provide incentives that protect our pre-existing conditions, protects our women, protects our veterans, protects our mental health and allows us to actually build more medical resources out there with the University of Maryland so that we can take care of everyone on the Eastern Shore and northern counties. Because we want to make sure that they have a price point per year that is affordable for their whole family. It beats having healthcare that is a la carte for your dental, your vision, your ER, your hospice or cancer care. I think expanding Medicare and providing those Social Security benefits to everyone will actually be wonderful to have.

I am a veteran, I have Tricare for life, it is considered Medicare and I know that when I turn 65 I will have to get Medicare Part A, Part B, but by then I want to make sure there is no part A, B, C, or D, it is Medicare for all and it is at a price point that we can all afford per year. Because if I can afford $600 per year I am pretty sure our voters can afford $600 per year. I think HR 1384 brings that to light especially with making sure our healthcare providers aren’t in this for the profit, but for actually taking care of us.

The only health insurance provider that I know of on the Eastern Shore is Blue Cross/Blue Shield, there is no AETNA, there is no Kaiser, there are no other available services unless you are on state aid. So providing Medicare for all will help the nearly 50,000 that are currently on the ACA and will expand upon that to include maybe 100,000 to 200,000, which is a majority of the Eastern Shore so that they can all have health insurance regardless of being employed or not. I think that would help us out and would ease burdens on an employer for providing healthcare insurance. Now an individual will be able to have healthcare for all of their family at a fixed price point per year.

What other issues would you like to discuss that you feel are relevant to the district, or your candidacy?

MM: There are several. We briefly talked about the racism and Black Lives Matter protests. I think there is a need for police reform, for their budgeting, but that is handled at the state level. I believe that advocating for that is important.

I believe our infrastructure is deteriorating. We understand that the third Bay bridge proposal is coming up here. We must include a light rail option or a public transportation option on this third Bay bridge so that we can go from D.C. to Ocean City with ease of transport and provide opportunities and jobs for those who commute to Washington, D.C. or the Western Shore. For those who wish to stay here on the Eastern Shore and live and recreate on our Chesapeake Bay, I think having that development just along Route 50 will help everyone on the Eastern Shore for manufacturing, jobs and opportunities over the next 100 years.

Going into climate change, we must think of it as climate recovery. It is beyond the breaking point now and we must implement a plan to protect our shore, because that waterway is eroding our shores. We need to make sure the Chesapeake Bay is fully funded by the EPA to make sure our clean water is protected from industrial practices and residents who still have outdated infrastructure and septic tanks by hooking them up to a main water line and drainage line. That should all bring jobs to the Eastern Shore and give a boost to our economy.

This should also allow our fishermen see healthier crabs, oysters, fish, you name it, they are going to reap the rewards for it.