Some candidates for state and local offices met with voters Tuesday evening at a forum at Asbury Solomons Retirement Community, answering questions ranging from state regulation of businesses to Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Del. Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark (R-St. Mary’s, Calvert) and his Democratic challenger, Julia Nichols, were asked what they can do to improve Solomons Island, where businesses have closed and feral cats are roaming and weeds are overgrowing in some parts.
When answering the question, Clark got into a back-and-forth argument with someone in the audience over his attitude toward workers.
A businessman himself, Clark blamed state regulations on small businesses for the decline of mom-and-pop shops, including high taxes, high wages and high-paid sick leave imposed by the Democratic state legislature, he said.
“Sir, you sound like you have a very anti-worker agenda. Is that the case?” a man from the audience asked.
“We don’t have an anti-worker agenda,” Clark responded, noting he had at one point employed 50 workers with a $3 million payroll. “We have an agenda where we want people to work. But we have to be realistic. And you have to make money.”
Nichols, on the other hand, said restoring Solomons can stem from education and working together.
“On a state level, we need to be working together to get more recognition and funding down here so we can help,” she said.
She also noted that her platform is “building bridges.”
The phrase, she said, means more than addressing the infrastructure issue.
She wants to work together to find solutions, as she has seen too much division within government.
In the state Senate race for District 29, running to represent southern Calvert County and all of St. Mary’s County, Democrat Thomas Brewer spoke, though his Republican opponent, Jack Bailey, did not attend the forum.
Brewer was asked to talk about his thoughts on Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee facing allegations of sexual assault.
“I was disgusted by what I read from the tweet from the Calvert commissioner president,” he said, receiving applause from some sitting in the audience.
The controversial tweet came from Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt (R) last week. It said, “I assaulted a young lady; 1st to 4th grade birthday gauntlet in school. Childhood friend of my affection had a birthday had to run the aisles. As did others, I smacked her on her buttocks. I feel so disqualified for any position today. NOT! Get over it people. Confirm Kavanaugh.”
“I was raised by a strong woman. My mom is the breadwinner in my family,” Brewer said at the forum.
He continued, “She has raised me to believe that anybody that is a minority or a possible victim of oppression should be defended. And I feel that at least [at] the bare minimum, the potential victims have their right to be heard.”
Bailey did not respond by deadline Thursday to a request for comment.