They heard from Congressional and Board of Ed candidates.
A large crowd filled Kussmaul Theater at Frederick Community College Monday night to hear the candidates running for Congress and the Board of Education.
The debate between 8th District Democratic incumbent Chris Van Hollen and Republican challenger Ken Timerman got heated at times. "So little time, so much misinformation, Mr. Timerman. I'm just astounded," said Van Hollen in response to allegations made by Timerman regarding the DISCLOSE Act, which would disclose where the money donated secretly for political activities comes from. "What you're talking about is not true transparency, and you know it very well," Timerman said. "It's a way of covering up secret contributions that are given out by the labor unions, given out by donors with big pockets."
The forum was sponsored by the Frederick News-Post, WFMD and FCC.
The two also sparred over how to close the federal deficit. "You need to deal with the spending, but you also have to deal with the revenue, which is why I support the idea of asking very high income individuals to go back to paying the same rates they were paying when Bill Clinton was President of the United States," said Van Hollen. "We have a spending problem in Washington; we don't have a spending problem," Timerman responded. He said Van Hollen was on a super committee which proposed cuts "heavily weighted toward our defense."
Timerman also said Van Hollen was a "fair weather friend of Israel," and asked he why doesn't support moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. "Mr. Timerman has repeatedly misrepresented my record," Van Hollen responded. "We had an exchange the other day, where we laid out the facts. He couldn't respond to a single one in a larger setting."
"I'm not going to treat Mr. Van Hollen with the same respect that he treats me," Timerman said.
Compared with the discussion between the 8th District Candidates, the forum featuring the 6th District Candidates was a little more subdued. Democratic challenger John Delaney said he would support controlling spending, reforming entitlements and increasing revenue to help close the nation's deficit, which he called a threat to the economy. "One of the areas we should focus on in increasing tax revenues is around capital gains," he said. "Capital gains tax rates today are 15%, which is an historically low number for capital gains rates."
But Incumbent Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett said increasing taxes doesn't necessarily lead to more revenue. "Every time we have lowered the capital gains tax rates, the capital gains revenues have increased," says Bartlett.
The two also spoke about immigration. Delaney wants to see comprehensive reform. "There are 11-million undocumented residents in our country, and we need to create a path to citizenship." He says criminals shouldn't get a path to citizenship and eligible immigrants should learn English.
"We really do need to have an e-verify that works," Bartlett responded. E-verify helps employers to determine the immigration status of those they hire.
The audience also heard Board of Education candidates talk about immigration. In the past, proposals have come up to require the school system to count by not identify the number of undocumented students attending classes. Joy Schaefer said that's not the job of the school system. "The school system is obligated to educate any minor child who comes through the doors," she said.
Dr. Zakir Bengali agrees. "I would like to see them grow up to be self-supporting taxpaying citizens. The only way to do that is to provide a good education from the beginning," he said. "We should not neglect that because they are children of immigrants, undocumented. That's not our concern."
Another issue addressed by Board of Ed candidates had to do with spending. They were asked about the operating budget, what they consider priorities and where they would cut. "How do you cut transportation? How do you cut food service," asked Board of Ed incumbent Katie Groth. "I frankly don't see a place where the operations budget is fat."
But Colleen Cusimano disagrees. "There are many areas, if we get down in the weeds about our budget, that we could find some savings. And what we need to be doing is targeting and focusing."
Even though it's been up and running for a few years, Tony Chmelik brought up the controversy surrounding the school system Central Office Building. "We took money out of operating budget to pay for the 'Taj Mahal,' as people like to call it. $1.3- to $1.4-million every year which could have gone to teachers' raises over the last four years. I think it was money that was wasted, and I think board members need to be far more prudent with your tax dollars," he said, to the applause of some in the audience.
Election day is Tuesday, November 6th. Early voting starts in Maryland on Saturday, October 27th.