Silver Spring attorney George Zokle has always thought about running for office and while he said there is never a perfect time to run, his time is now.
Zokle, 34, is seeking one of three seats in the Maryland House of Delegates representing District 20. More than a dozen candidates have been rumored for the June ballot in District 20. Del. Heather Mizeur’s decision to run for Maryland governor means her District 20 seat will be up for grabs. Incumbent Dels. Sheila Hixson (D) and Tom Hucker (D) are running for re-election.
A Democrat, Zokle has built a platform that focuses on not just the political usuals of a stronger economy, preserving the environment and improving schools.
Instead, he said he looks to tackle those issues by addressing economic equality, cultural competency and mental health advocacy.
Zokle said maximizing every individual’s skills and education creates opportunities for personal financial success and entrepreneurship.
“When an economy starts pushing downward, I would like to empower the people to push back,” he said.
As a lawmaker, he would fight for programs that allow businesses to come together and utilize one another rather than stand alone, he said.
But in a district as diverse as District 20 — which spans portions of Silver Spring and Takoma Park — he said there are cultural barriers to education, opening a business or obtaining health care.
Issues of language, communication and tolerance need to be addressed, he said.
But what he is really passionate about is mental health.
Zokle said mental health seems to only come up when talking about gun violence or institutions, and it still bears a stigma.
In Maryland, mental health has lost in the budget year after year, he said.
For Zokle, the focus needs to be on mental health first, physical health second.
“I see a path to victory in this campaign,” he said. “When I apply my model of integrating cultural competency and mental health advocacy and economic equality and tie that into those major issues, I believe that is what will lead me to victory. I believe that will lead the citizens of District 20 to victory.”
Actively campaigning for the seat, Zokle said he is currently knocking on doors and organizing fundraising events. His goal is $100,000. He has not yet filed with the Board of Elections.
While he has supporters on board with his campaign, none have official titles as of yet, such as campaign manager, he said.
A native of Ohio, Zokle came to Maryland because he sought a more diverse and open community. He has lived here about eight years.
He holds a bachelor’s from Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio, a masters degree from Johns Hopkins University and his law degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He currently practices law independently, specifically civil litigation.