Democratic Senate Candidate Forum-3-5 PM, Saturday, March 2nd

The Montgomery County Young Democrats are proud to join with the Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club and the Greater Silver Spring Democratic Club to sponsor a Democratic U.S. Senate Candidates Forum.

The forum will take place from 3-5 PM on Saturday, March 2nd, at Montgomery Blair High School (the address is 51 University Blvd. E). It will be moderated by Washington Post reporter Jennifer Rubin. The two major candidates are Angela Alsobrooks and David Trone.

Please register here to attend, and we look forward to seeing you there! https://womensdemocraticclub.org/events/us-senate-candidates-forum

Testimony of Montgomery County Young Democrats In Support of Additional Funding for Restorative Justice in Montgomery County Public Schools

January 25th, 2024

My name is Michael DeLong and I am the President of the Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD), a group of young Democrats ages 14-35 who work to elect Democrats, make Montgomery County and Maryland better places to live, and get young people involved in politics and advocacy. MCYD strongly supports full staffing of restorative justice coaches in every middle and high school in Montgomery County, and we urge you to provide the funding to make that a reality.

Restorative justice is a set of practices that allow people to resolve conflicts and repair harm through better communication. It creates an open, positive, and inclusive culture that is designed to be accountable and to resolve conflicts before they escalate. And it can be still used as an alternative disciplinary measure to traditional, punitive discipline. If students understand why their actions have caused harm, they are less likely to do them again.

We thank the Board of Education for its support of restorative justice so far, and thank the superintendent for including funding to maintain the current status of restorative justice in the draft budget. Unfortunately, right now in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), Black students are over twice as likely to face disciplinary action compared to other students, and they are more likely to end up in juvenile justice or even adult justice. As noted in a recent Office of Legislative Oversight report on the School to Prison Pipeline conducted by Dr. Elaine Bonner-Tompkins, racial disparities have mostly remained the same between 2014-2015 and 2019-2020, with Black students removed from school at two times the rate of their peers and more than twice as likely to be involved with the Department of Juvenile Services or arrested.

Only 3% of county schools currently have fully implemented restorative justice, while 97% have not. There are only 9 restorative justice specialists in MCPS’s central office. There is also only one stipend restorative justice coach in every MCPS school. The supply of restorative justice staff is not enough to fulfill the demand for these programs.

But in the schools that do have restorative justice, there is a lower suspension rate, especially for Black student suspensions, and a lower recidivism rate. As of October 2023, there was a 41% decrease of Black suspensions in MCPS’ focus restorative justice schools. When implemented well, restorative justice helps build a positive, antiracist school culture by identifying potential biases and working to dismantle them. However, this implementation needs to be thorough and consistent.

As young Democrats who remember our time in public schools, we believe that reform and education are far better ways to both hold people accountable and ensure that they do not repeat their actions. People deserve second chances and opportunities to make up for what they have done. When our schools and criminal justice systems are harshly punitive, the result is that students’ lives are greatly harmed and they are often sent on a downward spiral–and the recidivism rates, where they commit similar actions, are very high.

Restorative justice is a far better way, and it will help fix our schools and better the lives of a great many students. Young people will be able to get help and reform their lives if they need to, they will be taught why their actions were wrong and why they should avoid doing them in the future, and they will be helped onto the correct path. Instead of young people being treated as objects or problems, they will be treated as individuals.

In that spirit, MCYD urges the Board of Education to ask for additional funding for restorative justice, to hire full-time RJ coaches in every middle and high school.

Please contact us at mocoyoungdems@gmail.com with any questions.

Sincerely,

The Montgomery County Young Democrats

Montgomery County Young Democrats December Meeting Minutes—A Preview of the 2024 Legislative Session-December 12th, 2023

The Montgomery County Young Democrats met at the Rockville Memorial Library at 7 PM on Tuesday, December 12th. President Michael DeLong called the meeting to order. He briefly reviewed the club’s finances—MCYD currently has $10,463.36 in our bank account.

The club then held elections for the Executive Board. After the candidates made short speeches, the following candidates were elected.

  • Michael DeLong as President
  • Teresa Woorman as Vice President
  • Saif Shamim as Treasurer
  • Victoria Tajzai as Programs Director
  • Ezra Pine as Communications Director
  • Steven Cenname as Secretary
  • Thomas Jackson as Membership Director

We then heard from several speakers about their issues and priorities for the 2024 legislative session. They were:

  • Delegate Julie Palakovich Carr-District 17
  • Delegate Jared Solomon-District 18
  • Delegate Lily Qi-District 15
  • Ira Unger, representing Delegate Bonnie Cullision-District 19

Delegate Lily Qi spoke first. She thanked us for being interested in the legislative session and emphasized that legislators need to hear more from young people. She represents a diverse district and serves on the Economic Matters Committee, which deals with utilities, commerce, climate change, and cannabis reform. Qi works to make Maryland more competitive and promote economic development, especially for small businesses and research innovation. She fought to remove a $300 filing fee for businesses that served no good purpose and fought for paid family and medical leave.

Delegate Qi opposes closed primaries and has a bill that will delay the party registration deadline until the day before early voting starts. In 2024 she plans to focus on clean energy bills, like solar power for low-income communities. She told us that we are looking at brutal budget cuts, especially to transportation funding and education. Also, an end of life bill will be reintroduced next session.

Delegate Julie Palakovich Carr spoke next. She serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, and will focus on education, to keep implementing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future although there will have to be tweaks. State finances are in trouble and we need to raise more revenue. The pandemic aid helped but it is gone. There will be a push to close corporate tax loopholes and have a millionaire’s income tax, and they could use our support for this.

Carr will have a bill on universal preschool meals and is working on some election law bills, especially about vacancies. There will also be bills on roadway safety issues.

Delegate Jared Solomon spoke next. He is on the speaker’s leadership team and serves on the Appropriations Committee, which has oversight over personnel. Maryland faces a $200 million imbalance next year, which isn’t too bad, but going forward will be a problem. Education funding—the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future—is funded through 2027.

Prince George’s County got the FBI headquarters and Baltimore got designated a tech hub, which also helps. The Rainy Day Fund is at 10% of our revenue. We need a conversation about taxes. The Maryland Department of Transportation put out a budget and it has big cuts—a $3 billion shortfall. The budget does include funding for Metro, so those cuts shouldn’t be too bad, but highway fees will be cut by 40% and every capital investment project gets cut as well. The Legislature should raise rolls to get more money, and we need your help to pressure our Senate colleagues. Finally, Solomon will be working on some childcare bills.

Finally, Ira Unger spoke on behalf of Delegate Bonnie Cullison. Cullison is the Vice Chair of Health and Government Operations. She will have a bill to let undocumented immigrants go into the Maryland Health Exchanges, and she thinks it will pass next year. Her other goal is to increase access to mental health services. The end of life bill, or death with dignity bill, will be reintroduced—under certain very specific conditions, if someone has a terminal illness, they could decide to end their life.

Ira concluded by saying that the Prescription Drug Affordability Board, which will set limits on the prices that the state will pay for prescription drugs, will soon start its work in the next six months.

Victoria asked: I have often seen one time funds used to fund programs that are continuous and not time. Will you look at this? We need more funding and fiscal oversight? Make sure that funds are being used well. Delegate Solomon said they could do this, and that Hogan hollowed out the state government. When there is one time money, the Legislature tries to use it for investments. We need more staff and time to examine the budget. No bid contracts have also been increasing, and the Legislature is working on audits.

Saif asked: can you talk about the MCDCC and what makes it more transparent than other central committees? Carr: MCDCC outlines a process for filling vacancies, interview candidates, make the process public. Holding special elections costs money, but Senator Ferguson supports a bill to require them when possible. And my bill requires Central Committee members to apply to fill legislative vacancies to rescuse themselves.

The meeting ended at 8:40 PM.

MoCo Young Democrats Support CASA de Maryland

The MCYD Board would like to affirm our support for CASA as an organization that does excellent work for the immigrant community here in Montgomery County and around the country. In the past 15 years, they have been a leading voice for immigrant rights and reform. As a recent Maryland Matters article describes it, they are “the biggest and most consequential immigrants’ rights group in the Mid-Atlantic.” Recent dialogue has diminished the tremendous impact of what they do. We, as a collective, believe that CASA should not be stripped of critical funding to support their work and grassroots organizing efforts that benefit thousands of migrants in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area.

Montgomery County Young Democrats Testimony Before the Montgomery County Delegation at the Priorities Hearing

November 13th, 2023

Good evening members of the Delegation: 

My name is Michael DeLong and I am the President of the Montgomery County Young Democrats, an organization of young Democrats ages 14-35 that work to make Montgomery County and Maryland better places to live and get young people involved in politics and advocacy. In the 2024 Maryland Legislative Session, we urge you to follow through on previous commitments, ensuring that Maryland both helps young people and lifts up the most vulnerable among us. 

First, we urge that the Legislature continue to fully fund the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, implementing greatly needed education reforms. The Blueprint will help our youth and benefit our state in the long term. Additional funding can be obtained by closing corporate tax loopholes or through the Fair Share for Maryland Plan, which would create an income tax increase of $302 for households making over $250,000 and ensure that the wealthiest 1% of households pay their fair share in taxes. Also the Legislature should make sure that local governments are fulfilling its part of the Blueprint and helping students. 

Second, we urge that the state fund more resources for mental health, since so many people, especially young people, are struggling with this. MCYD also urges more resources and funding for people dealing with drug addiction–but the resources and money must be aimed at treatment, not punishment. A few years Maryland ranked among the top five states for opioid-related overdoses and this epidemic has ravaged a lot of communities, especially in rural areas. We need more treatment centers, more treatment options, more caseworkers, and more compassion. 

Third, Maryland has relatively strong gun violence prevention laws but there is still much work to be done. We support the Gun Industry Accountability Act of 2024, which would regulate the gun industry to prevent reckless harm caused by guns. It will repeal the Federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in Maryland, a law that currently makes it very difficult to sue the industry. This bill will make it easier for litigation to go forward against gun manufacturers or retailers if they are reckless, negligent, or sell guns to those who should not have them. Litigation reduced smoking and made the tobacco industry pay for its crimes, it is having a similar effect on the opioid industry, and it should have a similar effect on the gun industry. 

Housing is a human right and everyone, regardless of their income or race, should have a safe and stable home. MCYD supports the Just Cause Eviction bill, which requires good reasons for evicting tenants and protects tenants from retaliation from landlords if tenants organize or complain. Just Cause Eviction promotes housing stability for tenants and neighborhoods; Montgomery County and other counties would greatly benefit being allowed to adopt these laws. 

All Marylanders also deserve access to affordable health care. But right now over 275,000 undocumented immigrants in Maryland are ineligible for health insurance through the Maryland Health Exchange. We support the Access to Care Act, which would make qualified health insurance plans available to all Marylanders regardless of their immigration status. Better access to health care literally saves us. Many organizations, including CASA, do excellent work helping immigrants and advocating for immigrant reforms and reform. We believe that they should not be stripped of critical funding to support their work and grassroots organizing efforts.

Finally, MCYD urges reform of how Maryland legislative vacancies are filled by requiring special legislative elections for vacancies that occur within the first two years of legislative terms. And we ask the Delegation to adopt sweeping measures both to promote clean energy and reduce climate change. Maryland households and communities are already being harmed by more extreme weather and natural disasters. 

Thank you very much. Please contact us at mocoyoungdems@gmail.com with any questions. 

Sincerely, 

The Montgomery County Young Democrats

Montgomery County Young Democrats Voice Strong Support for LGTBQ Community In Montgomery County

This week, a protest and a town hall meeting were organized by Moms for Liberty, an extremist anti-LGBTQ+ group who earned notoriety earlier this year by quoting Adolf Hitler in their campaign literature. The headliners of the protest and town hall were three ambulance chasers who traveled from Canada, Florida, and Carroll County. Three out-of-county provocateurs came to Montgomery County to drum up hatred by railing against the inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters in books approved by Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), wishing to bring back an “opt out” policy that would allow parents to shield their children from books with content to which they personally object. However, MCPS never had such a policy for depictions of LGTBQ+ people.

In the wake of these events, the Montgomery County Young Democrats would like to voice our strong support for the LGBTQ+ community in Montgomery County and for MCPS for fostering an inclusive environment. The LGBTQ+ community, despite the best efforts of groups like Moms for Liberty, exists. Groups like Moms for Liberty know that allowing students to opt out of learning about the existence of the LGBTQ+ community sends a message that the community is abnormal and deserves to be ostracized. The strategy is obvious, and MCYD will stand with our LGBTQ+ neighbors and fight these tactics every step of the way.

MCYD stands by MCPS, and all of our county’s wonderful teachers, for fostering a history and literature curriculum that properly reflects the rich diversity of our community. We also want to thank all of the counter protestors who showed up in support of our LGBTQ+ neighbors at both events this week. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to spread messages of love and equality.

Montgomery County Young Democrats Applaud Indictment of Donald Trump for Attempting to Overturn the 2020 Election

The Montgomery County Young Democrats applaud the Department of Justice’s indictment of Donald Trump for his illegal efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and block the peaceful transition of power. For months, Trump spread lies and attempted to foment a coup to subvert our democracy, and this indictment is a welcome sign that he will be prosecuted. 

Trump lost the 2020 presidential election and has been indicted on four counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights. The January 6th riot, which he instigated and encouraged, was an appalling assault on democratic values and was intended to undo the election results. Trump further tried to exploit the resulting chaos and violence to benefit himself and cling to a power, turning himself into an autocrat. 

As the indictment says, “the Defendant also pursued unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting the election results.” For months, Trump pressured local election officials to undo voting results in their states, tried to force Vice President Mike Pence to halt the counting of electoral votes, and lied that the election had been stolen.

We young Democrats welcome this indictment since no one, especially not a President, is above the law. Donald Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned for his sedition and lawbreaking. However, he did not act alone. The indictment mentions a half-dozen co-conspirators, including lawyers inside and outside of government who attempted to serve as Trump’s enablers and overturn the election. These individuals should also be prosecuted and imprisoned for their crimes so nothing like this ever happens again. 

The Montgomery County Young Democrats support the indictment of Trump and urge that he be held liable for his crimes. 

Montgomery County Young Democrats Urge County Council to Approve the STEP Act and Reform Policing

The Montgomery County Young Democrats recently urged the Montgomery County Council to approve the STEP Act, which would limit the use of traffic stops. Below is a letter sent to the Council.

Letter from the Montgomery County Young Democrats in Support of the STEP Act

July 10, 2023

Montgomery County Council

countycouncil@montgomerycountymd.gov

100 Maryland Avenue, 6th Floor Rockville, MD 20850

Dear County Councilmembers,

The Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) write in support of Bill 12-23–Police-Traffic Stops-Limitation, known as the Safety and Traffic Equity in Policing (STEP) Act. The STEP Act would limit and sometimes prohibit police officers from making stops for certain minor traffic offenses. It would help reimagine public safety, reduce systemic racism, and encourage police to focus on more urgent needs and more serious crimes.

Recently the Office of Legislative Oversight issued a report on traffic enforcement and police interactions in Montgomery County. The report found “substantial disparities in police interactions by race and ethnicity” and “that Black and Latino drivers are stopped and searched during traffic violations at disproportionately higher rates than white drivers.” As a result, Black and Latino drivers are more likely to become trapped in the criminal justice system, to be incarcerated, or to be victims of police brutality. In many cases police officers stop drivers even if they are doing nothing wrong–and in some cases, these stops can go horribly wrong and leave someone dead.

The STEP Act would ban traffic stops by Montgomery County police officers based solely on suspected violations of the following offenses: licensing and registration, certificates of title of insurance, window tinting, defective headlights or taillights, illuminated license plates, minor obstructions like signs or posters on car windshields. It also bans traffic stops of people for suspected jaywalking. Furthermore, the STEP Act requires the county to collect data and information related to traffic stops and bans consent searches of cars by police officers (when an officer gets someone’s consent to search their vehicle).

Police officers should focus on solving serious crimes, responding to threats, and keeping Montgomery County residents safe. Traffic stops are often overused and unnecessary, and similar reforms have been implemented in places around the country. Berkeley, California has removed traffic enforcement from the police and assigned it to the transportation division. Places as varied as Oakland, Lansing, Fayetteville, Madison, and the state of Virginia have banned police officers from making stops for minor traffic offenses.

The STEP Act will reduce racial disparities in our criminal justice system, prevent people from going to prison, pressure police to focus on serious crimes, and in some cases, save lives. We urge you to favorably report Bill 12-23.

Please contact us at mocoyoungdems@gmail.com with any questions.

Sincerely,

The Montgomery County Young Democrats

Montgomery County Young Democrats Condemn Supreme Court Ruling Striking Down Student Debt Relief Program

The Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) condemn the Supreme Court ruling that President Biden’s student debt relief program, which would have offered up to $20,000 in debt relief to working and middle class borrowers, is not authorized by the HEROES Act. 

This decision will harm tens of millions of Americans, especially young people who are starting families, saving to buy homes, and starting their careers. Black, Latino, and low-income Americans will also be disproportionately affected by the cruel ruling, which is both wrong legally and morally. As a direct result of this, more people will struggle with unaffordable student loan debt. 

However, the fight is far from over. MCYD will continue to fight for student debt relief and forgiveness–and this decision does not prevent Congress from passing new laws or the Biden administration from pursuing student debt relief under authority granted by other laws. We urge the Biden administration to act decisively to deliver debt relief and prevent the federal government from restarting the student loan payment process in September. And for people who are struggling with student debt, the National Consumer Law Center has an excellent collection of resources

Finally, the six right-wing Supreme Court justices have embarked on a cruel, callous effort to block liberal policies and write their policy preferences into the law. Additionally, they are quite corrupt and have violated numerous federal disclosure and conflict-of-interest laws. We call upon Congress to investigate and, if necessary, impeach these justices.