Pat Smith from Montgomery Municipal Community Television interviews President Nik Sushka about community issues, the 2014 primaries, and the impact of MCYD’s advocacy and community building efforts:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 4, 2014
Montgomery County Young Democrats Urge Passage of SB 364
Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) are extremely disappointed that leadership in the House Judiciary Committee has failed to take action to decriminalize or legalize marijuana. We strongly urge our delegation to support today’s action to amend SB 364 back to its original language, which includes decriminalization.
While 17 states and Washington, D.C. have moved forward to address the failed war on drugs, Maryland will continue to disproportionately arrest and incarcerate people of color at alarming rates in every county if we do not pass legislation this year. As a state, we have one of the highest rates of arrest for marijuana possession in the country. Police in Maryland have arrested more people for marijuana possession in the past 10 years than for all violent crimes combined, according to the ACLU of Maryland.
The problem and solution are clear. We don’t need a task force to study marijuana decriminalization. We need decisive action now. We call on the House of Delegates to respond to Maryland’s voters, who overwhelmingly support marijuana reform, and to get Maryland on the right side of history on this issue.
MCYD is a 501(c)4 organization that seeks to attract and develop young people into caring agents of change who commit through political action to working for just and sustainable communities. For more information, visit www.mcyd.org.
In September and October, MCYD was proud to help host four youth leaders from Denmark as they volunteered for President Obama in Virginia & Pennsylvania, and for marriage equality here in Maryland. Below is a guest blog post from the Social-Liberal Youth of Denmark’s International Officer Henrik Andersen!
My name is Henrik and I am the International Officer of The Social-Liberal Youth of Denmark. In September and October I spent a couple of weeks – alongside the President, the Head of Secretariat and the Campaigns Officer of our organization – in Maryland, Pennsylvania, D.C. and New York volunteering in and following some of the work you guys did in the Obama campaign.
So first of all: Congratulations! We have been anxiously following the presidential election ever since we returned to Denmark. What a relief that Obama was reelected! And with such a wide margin. You can be proud of yourselves – good job!
We learned a lot during our stay in the U.S. We were surprised, intrigued and (we have to admit) a bit confused by the way you run a campaign in the States. So you might be interested in some of the differences between what we experience at home and what we experienced visiting you guys.
First of all, you guys have fixed election dates – we don’t. There has to be an election every four years but in the four year term, the prime minister can at any time call for an election. Therefore, our campaigns usually last no longer than three weeks – which we find is more than enough. How you guys pull off several months of hardcore campaigning is still a mystery to us. We are impressed.
Secondly, every single citizen in Denmark is automatically a registered voter. The average percentage of turn-out for a parliamentary election is well into the 80’s. Therefore, it surprised us how much time you guys spent getting out the vote and activating potential supporters.
Thirdly, it was interesting taking part in a campaign where the margin of undecided voters was as small as it appeared to be in this election. We spent a lot of time phone banking, canvassing and finding potential supporters. The use of canvassing and phone banking is very little in Denmark and the openness of the voters was a bit surprising.
In general we had a very nice trip and we tried to contribute as much as possible. We learned a lot and still got to see the “mandatory” touristy stuff. So once again: Thank you very much for giving us this opportunity!
On Thursday, August 30th, MCYD members Aaron Kaufman, Valeria Carranza, Abe Saffer, Laurie-Anne Sayles and Chris Bradbury, visited the WUSA 9 NewsNow studios to watch Governor Romney accept the Republican nomination for President, and provide their reactions to his speech to be shown on the eleven o’clock news.
Featured in the video, Aaron Kaufman says something many Americans wanted from the speech saying, “I want to hear about polices, not warm and fuzzy tired phrases.”
The Montgomery County Young Democrats’ (MCYD) testified Wednesday night at the Montgomery County Democratic Party’s Ballot Questions Advisory Committee (BQAC) to weigh in on what issues are most important to them for inclusion on the Party’s sample ballot.
MCYD members Abe Saffer, Ben Feshbach and Jay Wilson offered arguments in support of marriage equality, the DREAM Act, and maintaining effects bargaining for county police officers.
Communications Director Abe Saffer voiced his strong support for marriage equality telling a personal story about his experience with the issue, and debunking the myth that same-sex marriage destroys marriage between a man and a woman, saying, “Ann Romney said ‘her and Mitt have a real marriage.’ Given that six states currently allow same sex marriage, means they don’t have a real marriage, or same sex marriage doesn’t destroy anything.”
MCYD Youth Rights Chair Ben Feshbach was joined by his father Rabbi Michael Feshbach in testifying for two of the state’s most heated ballot issues, marriage equality and the DREAM Act. Ben testified that, “this is economically beneficial, this is socially beneficial, and it is the right thing to do. As a student and as a Young Democrat, I strongly urge a vote for the DREAM Act.”
Member Jay Wilson shared why, as a son of a police officer, he supports policies that protected the widest scope of collective bargaining rights. In his testimony Wilson argued “if we continue to roll back these rights, it is guaranteed that we will weaken our strong middle class and our party here, just as it has happened across our country.”
“As young people, we are deeply concerned about the future these policies are creating for us,” said MCYD Issues Chair Nik Sushka. “Are we going to be neighbors that support equal rights? Are we going to be a community that educates every young person, and provides them with opportunities and skills to make our communities a better place? Are we going to protect our first responders with adequate funding, benefits, and collective bargaining rights? We certainly hope so, because we’re the ones who’ll be living here for the next 30 or 40 years.”
The three hours of testimony to the BQAC resulted in affirmative votes for all three of the MCYD’s positions. The organization will continue to support these initiatives, as well as all Montgomery County Democrats running for election or re-election, through November with weekly phone banks, debates and presentations, and canvassing.
The following post was written by MCYD member Javel “Jay” Wilson, who is serving as the Issue Committee’s liaison to the state-wide Educating Maryland Kids:
How would you feel if after graduating high school you were not able to fulfill your college dreams and have a chance to embark upon a career doing something you love? Most of us would probably feel awful! Unfortunately many graduating Maryland high school students experience this discouraging feeling because current laws make achieving their educational dreams almost unattainable. This current situation is unacceptable and needs to be changed. It not only affects our Maryland high school students but the whole state.
Based on the lack of fairness in the current laws, I have decided to ensure that all Maryland kids have equal opportunity to pursue their dreams of higher education by advocating for the Maryland DREAM Act. Each student that I have met whose life is affected by the Maryland DREAM Act increases my motivation to make sure this important legislation passes the ballot referendum this November.
To better prepare myself in advocating for the Maryland DREAM Act, I recently attended Maryland DREAM Ambassador Training given by the non-partisan alliance Action in Montgomery. This training helped prepare me for dealing with many of the misconceptions and oppositions that people have regarding Maryland Dream Act. The training has further increased my motivation and desire to make a difference in ensuring that all Maryland Kids have equal opportunities.
We must collectively take action and ensure The Maryland DREAM Act passes this November! The Maryland DREAM Act provides equitable educational opportunities to all Maryland students. It helps make needed change and provides increased educational opportunities that may not have otherwise been unattainable.
We need your help to spread the truth and facts about the Maryland DREAM Act, who it affects and why it is good for Maryland.
MCYD Members please sign up to be a DREAM Ambassador at mcyd.org/defendthedream today and help make a change!
Javel “Jay” Wilson
Four important updates for our issue areas!
1. Marylanders for Marriage Equality urgently needs donations/loans for its Baltimore and Silver Spring offices. Email David Turley ASAP: email@example.com and share a picture with us of your donation!
- -Trash cans
- -Extension Cords
- -Power Strips
2. Educating MD Kids (the DREAM Act coalition) will be conducting trainings for volunteers able to present their message to organizations of likely voters (PTAs, democratic clubs, etc…). Attend the May 24th Membership Meeting to learn more.
3. Montgomery Women do a First Friday Power Breakfast the 1st Friday of every month. Attend June 1st’s and meet other emerging and existing leaders in the county.
4. Get out the Youth Vote: Know anyone coming home for the summer? Remind them to register for an absentee ballot! Want to actually register voters yourself? You need to get certified!
MCYD recently participated in a visit coordinated by Dan Ewald, Programming Director from the Baltimore County Young Democrats, to several of Maryland’s Congressional Delegations at their offices in Washington DC.
The event was attended by a dozen other Young Democrats from across the Great State of Maryland, including MCYD’s Max Etin, Laurie Ann Sayles, and Matt Nisenoff.
Matt shares his thoughts on the experience:
Dan […] did an outstanding job of it.
We were honored to meet with Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, who represents Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County; Congressman John Sarbanes, who represents portions of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County (and with redistricting will include a part of Montgomery County); and Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, who represents parts of Baltimore City as well as Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Harford and Howard Counties.
All were generous with their time and spoke eloquently on issues they are currently facing and how the force of those outside of Congress is particularly important in moving forward with issues in the current political atmosphere.
It was an honor to meet with these members of Congress. Their staffs were professional, helpful and informative, and their support on the visit was appreciated. The tours of House and watching part of the days session rounded out an experience that we will appreciated.
One of the perks of being a member of the Montgomery County Young Democrats is incredible access to elected officials in the region.
The Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) elected a new executive board on Tuesday as the organization intensifies its work to elect progressive Democrats across the state in 2012. The newly-elected officers – President Dave Kunes, Executive Vice President Laurie-Anne Sayles, Director of Communications Abraham Saffer, Director of Programming John-Ubong Silas, Director of Membership Chris Bradbury, Director of Finance Chris Coppola, and Secretary Nik Sushka– represent the diversity of Montgomery County’s youth.
The new executive board ran on a five-point plan of making MCYD more transparent, intentional, effective, inclusive, and empowering. “One of our biggest challenges during our next two years will be to create a model organization that truly reflects and represents the active, passionate, and hard-working community of young Democrats here in Montgomery County,” said newly elected President Dave Kunes. “Montgomery County needs to do its part to activate new voters to help address the steep dropoff in young registered Democrats the state has seen since June of 2010. The executive board and membership are dedicated to work tirelessly with all the past, current, and future members of MCYD to ensure that we are heard.”
Montgomery County Young Democrats holds monthly membership meetings. For media inquiries, contact Director of Communications Abe Saffer at Abe.Saffer@MCYD.org