Candidate Priorities: State Senators, Delegates


With Election Day approaching, we asked each candidate to share his or her top three priorities for office so Anne Arundel County residents can make a decision before heading to the polls on November 8.


Sarah Elfreth

It has been an absolute privilege to represent District 30 in the Maryland Senate. In my second term, I plan to build off my record of passing bipartisan, commonsense policy and budget measures to solve our community’s challenges.

District 30 remains highly susceptible to the impacts of sea-level rise and climate change. While I have sponsored legislation to update stormwater standards and finance resilience infrastructure, there is more work to do to protect our homes, small businesses, and historic structures from flooding.

District 30 also continues to face gun violence and crime – and I look forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand with our communities and public safety professionals to provide greater resources and community investment to ensure everyone feels and is safe in our community. I am also proud that I have been endorsed by the Professional Firefighters and the Fraternal Order of Police because of my record of working with first responders.

Inflation, the rising cost of goods, and increased cost of living are also impacting the day-to-day lives of District 30 residents. As a member of the budget and taxation committee, I was proud to help pass nearly $2 billion in economic support to help provide relief to Maryland families and small businesses, including over $1 billion in tax relief to Marylanders 65 and over; $115.6 million in "family budget boosters" like sales tax exemptions on health care and family products (including my legislation to exempt diapers from the sales tax); and funding to suspend the gas tax to ensure that Marylanders were less impacted by rising costs at the pump. These next four years, I will remain committed to providing further tax relief to seniors, small businesses, and families throughout Maryland. My second term will be focused on providing tax relief to Maryland’s veterans and first responders.

I am running for re-election to build upon what we have already accomplished: we have more to do to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, make our communities safer, and ensure every family and small business can thrive here in Maryland. I hope to have earned your vote!

Stacie MacDonald

We need more balance in Annapolis and I will work across the aisle to bring commonsense solutions for all Marylanders, not just one political party. The extreme liberals are taking over the agenda in Annapolis and it is crushing our neighborhoods and families on issues like these:

  1. High cost of living. Billions in new taxes are crushing families while inflation and cost of living rise. We need immediate and significant tax relief for everyone. Maryland politicians are sitting on a $7 billion surplus that should be returned to you. My opponent voted to keep over 98% of your money for pet projects of the far left. I believe it is time to provide real tax relief, especially for retirees.

  2. Crime. We have all seen the senseless and violent rise in crime. What you may not have heard about is how Annapolis and my opponent are undermining our law enforcement with bills that strip our police of their long-standing Law Enforcement Bill of Rights among other onerous actions. This is creating record retirement and challenging recruitment efforts by our police. To add insult to injury, these same politicians blocked Governor Larry Hogan’s effort to get repeat violent offenders off our streets. I testified in support of Governor Hogan’s legislation.

  3. Community. Our area has such beauty and a sense of community. It is important that we continue to work to maintain and improve our community. I believe having world-class schools and education are at the foundation of any great community, so that’s why I believe in funding education and empowering parents in the educational experience of their children. Additionally, we are so blessed to have the Chesapeake Bay and all its tributaries that provide recreation, beauty and commerce.

I believe we must protect the Chesapeake Bay funds that are dedicated to cleaning up our waterways that politicians have continued to raid. Day one, I would co-sponsor or submit legislation to put a lockbox on the Chesapeake Bay funds to ensure the provided resources are going to help the health of the bay and not some politician’s pet project.


Brian Kunkoski

The issue that is most important to me is reducing the size and scope of the state government. For too long, we have been beholden to taxes, permits, licensure, fees, absurd laws and regulations, and intrusive practices in our day-to-day lives. I recognize, if elected, that this is not a feat that will be corrected overnight. However, these practices weren't put in place overnight either. The two-party duopoly has slowly degraded the American way of life to give us a false sense of freedom. If elected to office, I will push three main issues on day one.

  1. Abolish the gas tax. We can achieve this by not allowing the state to dip into the transportation fund to fuel pet projects and add to the general fund.

  2. Fight for Maryland to become a constitutional carry state. Violent crime has gotten worse in our communities and people need a way to protect themselves when police are nowhere to be found.

  3. End vehicle re-registration. This is a "break even" system that requires too many employees at the Motor Vehicle Administration, which I see as a form of welfare, and is simply a major inconvenience for our citizens.

There are many more issues that I plan on addressing, but this, I think, is a great start.

The time is much past due for the two-party system to come to an end, and we need to allow people to reach their true potential without being taxed and regulated out of bettering themselves. It is time for a drastic change in politics, and I am that drastic change.

Bryan Simonaire

Bryan Simonaire could not be reached. According to his website, his priorities include lowering taxes, supporting veterans and small businesses, and standing up for citizen liberties.


Dawn Gile

In addition to being an attorney and mom of three girls, I am a proud Army spouse and a longtime advocate for veterans and military families, including having overseen a program providing pro bono legal services to Gold Star families and veterans. I am also an experienced attorney, having represented businesses of all sizes in litigation. I decided to run for the Maryland Senate after seeing a need for more effective representation on three key issues: supporting working families, protecting the environment, and strengthening our education system.

First, one of my top priorities is education. I believe that all children should be given the opportunity to learn in a safe environment, and our public schools need the resources and support to do so. It is imperative that we address overcrowding as well as teacher burnout and recruitment issues. I am proud to be endorsed by the Maryland State Education Association and Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County.

Second, helping working families is a top priority for me. As a mother with a career outside the home, I think it’s vital to ensure access to affordable, quality child care and paid family and medical leave. In fact, among my many reasons for running for office is my frustration with the shortage of affordable child care options. I will work to continue to expand paid family and medical leave, passed this last session, as well as access to child care.

Third, I support strong environmental protections, including the need to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. I also believe we should continue to build on efforts to address the impact of climate change. My campaign has been endorsed by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and Sierra Club, and I am committed to working with them in the future to enact legislation to strengthen environmental protections, especially for bay health.

Most importantly, I am committed to doing my homework and listening to constituents and policy experts to work toward compromise and solutions. I look forward to serving District 33 as its next state senator and would be honored for your vote.

Sid Saab

We face difficult times with runaway inflation and a growing recession. I have proudly partnered with Governor Larry Hogan in preparing for these shocks. We built up the state’s surplus and rainy day fund to be ready. These funds can prevent cuts to public education and law enforcement. My opponent disagrees and supports sales tax and property increases to increase spending in addition to draining these reserves. She is wrong on all counts.

Violent crime and serious drugs, like fentanyl, are threats that have gotten worse. I oppose the catch-and-release policies that have made our communities less safe. I voted to make certain there are law enforcement officers (SROs) in every school. We passed the Justice Reinvestment Act, which gives non-violent offenders a second chance, but keeps violent offenders in prison. My opponent takes a different view, wanting to defund police and continue Baltimore’s catch-and-release policy.

Rejecting extremism in our politics must be a priority. I am proud to work with Governor Hogan and I am proud to work across party lines. Compromise is a good thing. I have voted for state budgets that were not perfect. Governor Hogan, Democratic leaders and people like me forged a compromise that works because we do not let one party control everything. The economy and crime are not Republican or Democrat issues. They are commonsense policies forged through dialog and compromise. I am proud of that. To break the power of extremism, we need to change our politics. That’s why I propose changing the law and allowing independents to vote in party primaries. This will promote candidates who speak to everyone and not the extremes.

I am an immigrant. I fled Lebanon, a country that is broken by extremist politics. Together, we can embrace cooperation and compromise as a recipe for success. I respectfully request your vote. Visit my website,, for more details. If you want to talk, my phone is 410-934-7088 and we can discuss what’s on your mind.


Shaneka Henson

I was born and raised in Annapolis, to pastors who centered their family on community service above self. Elected to the Annapolis City Council in 2017, I was appointed to the House of Delegates in 2019 following the death of late Speaker Michael Busch. In my first term I’ve proven to be an effective and passionate leader. I am committed to making communities safer, controlling health care costs, and defending women’s rights.

My accomplishments include working with my colleagues to ban ghost guns; strengthening gun dealer security requirements; and increasing penalties for witness intimidation, sex trafficking and gun trafficking. I also passed legislation to cap the cost of insulin at $30 per month and forced drug companies to compete on drug prices. I am pro-choice, pro-women and I supported a constitutional amendment to protect pro-choice rights.

Since 2019, I sponsored 32 bills and worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to co-sponsor another 127 legislative acts. I currently serve on the appropriations committee and subcommittees for health and human services, as well as the oversight committee on pensions. In 2021, I was appointed to lead the Anne Arundel County capital budget subcommittee.

Before joining the Maryland General Assembly, I spent almost 10 years as a practicing attorney for the YWCA and the Maryland Office of Attorney General. Currently, I continue my passion for the law as a partner in my firm, Johnson Legal Group LLC.

I am proudly married to my husband, an educator at Annapolis Middle School. Together, we raise our teenage son, a recent graduate from Anne Arundel County Public Schools, and a freshman at Morgan State University.

There’s no day off for me. When I’m not on the floor lobbying to protect the rights of District 30-A residents or attending community events in Annapolis, Arnold, Broadneck, Edgewater and London Town, I’m pouring into my creative hobbies such as interior design or attending live poetry and music performances.

Learn more at

Dana Jones

The three issues that will be most important to me are some of the same ones that I’ve worked tirelessly on since taking office in April 2020. I spent my first two years supporting Maryland’s working families, not only by resolving over 2,000 constituent cases, but also through targeted tax relief. In 2022, I personally sponsored over $300 million in tax cuts as part of the Family Budget Boosters relief package. Additionally, I supported the Retirement Tax Elimination Act, which passed with bipartisan support, and co-sponsored the motor fuel tax-free period. In total, I sponsored, co-sponsored, or supported over $2 billion in tax relief in my first two years.

I’ve been proud to continue my career’s work protecting and securing the right to reproductive health care. In 2022, I co-sponsored the Abortion Care Access Act that expands access to providers in our state. While other states are severely limiting women's health care, this session, Maryland chose to expand it.

And finally, as your state delegate, I will continue to target crime and work to make our communities safer. In 2022, I supported legislation directed at reducing gun violence and getting illegal weapons off of our streets. These included House Bill 425, which regulates untraceable “ghost guns,” and House Bill 1021 that enhances security regulations for firearms dealers. I also supported our police in their efforts to combat gun violence by supporting Senate Bill 861, which funds the Maryland State Police Gun Center. This legislation will provide our state police the data and resources they need to investigate all firearm crimes. And lastly, I supported funding the state’s behavioral health and public safety through the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services to bolster efforts in identifying and treating at-risk Marylanders. This funding will provide the help and support our youth need in times of crisis and save lives. With your support, I look forward to continuing my work on these issues, as well as the numerous others that impact Maryland and its future.

Doug Rathell

As your next delegate, I will continue to be the voice of our community. I will always choose policies over politics. It’s not the party affiliation, it’s the person who best represents the people. When elected into office, I will focus on supporting our families and children, reducing crime by improving community safety, and keeping retirees in our state.

Education - I’m committed to improving our children’s education by sending funding directly into our public school classrooms.

Crime/public safety - As a community servant, a local fire lieutenant/paramedic, I took an oath to protect and serve. Our communities are safer when there is trust, respect, and a mutual appreciation between law enforcement and the residents they serve.

Retirement Taxes - We lose our retirees, our parents and grandparents when they are forced to leave the great state of Maryland. I will work diligently to lower taxes, allowing more affordability to keep our retirees in our state.

Feel free to reach for any further information or questions. Email me at, visit, or call me at 443-305-9230.

Rob Seyfferth

Rob Seyfferth could not be reached. According to his Facebook page, he wants to reduce government spending, keep taxes low, and introduce legislation to impose term limits on Congress and the judiciary.


Kevin Burke

First, we must renew our democracy. This starts with electing public officials who have common sense and courage to do what is right even when it means standing up against their own party. I am the only Democrat running for office who has publicly stood up to the Democratic Party over its partisan gerrymandering. My opponents have failed a similar test of leadership from within their party. Dan Cox has tried to impeach Governor Hogan, has called former Vice President Pence a “traitor” while our capital was being attacked, and has pondered mobilizing the Maryland State Police against the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

I give Governor Larry Hogan credit for his common sense to publicly oppose Mr. Cox. But unlike Governor Hogan, my Republican opponents have not found the courage to do so. In fairness, they may agree with Mr. Cox, which is more worrisome.

Second, we must grow our economy and protect the financial security of our residents. This includes helping small businesses grow, providing needed relief for working families and safe-guarding the hard-earned money of retirees. Specifically, I would support tax relief and targeted investments in public infrastructure and job training. We should also index the Maryland tax code to inflation to ease the burden of higher food and gas prices. I would work to make Maryland more tax friendly for retirees by cutting taxes on income from retirement accounts.

Third, we must improve the quality of life of our residents. We must save the Chesapeake Bay and appropriately staff the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). We should be alarmed by an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report that calls into question the safety of our drinking water due to chronic understaffing at the MDE. Also, as a military veteran and criminal prosecutor, I would effectively partner with our law enforcement agencies to fight crime. It is disturbing that my Republican opponents voted against banning ghost guns, which are untraceable firearms that can be ordered and assembled from the internet without a background check. These weapons have increasingly become the weapon of choice for violent criminals and threaten our communities.

Brian Chisholm

  1. Tax Relief - Immediately introduce legislation to detach the Maryland State Gas Tax from the Consumer Price Index as it is currently structured. Maryland has a large surplus of state and local road revenue and to continue this assault on every Marylander at the pump is unconscionable and unnecessary. The gas tax should either be eliminated or attached to another index that is much more stagnant or unrelated to the inflation that is currently crushing all Marylanders.

  2. Economy - I will continue to remain hyper-focused on the elimination of wasteful spending and unnecessary tax burdens. These financial hardships have created major worker shortages in almost every industry and caused many businesses to leave or start up elsewhere. It has also caused droves of lifelong Marylanders to leave the state for better economic environments in other states.

  3. Crime - Crime has become a major issue everywhere in the state and I will continue to fight for every resource to fight crime from our law enforcement officers who provide safer communities to pushing for stronger sentences to those who create these vicious and violent crimes.

Nic Kipke

When I first got elected, we were at the tail end of a decades-long decline in violent crime. Over the past few years, that trend has started to reverse and now violent crime is on the rise. While there are a lot of reasons for this, there are obvious reasons and those are the ones I intend to address during my next term in office. We must make it clear to violent criminals that lawlessness won’t be tolerated. I’m going to fight to keep violent criminals in jail rather than continuing this revolving door we have going on in which someone can commit a violent crime in the afternoon and be out of jail and home in time for dinner. Many criminals never even face prosecution. It’s desperately important that we address these failing policies and get the violent crime rate headed back down in the right direction.

Another priority for me (and I know for many Marylanders) is taxes. With the cost of living rising and inflation painfully high, there’s hardly anyone who can afford to see their taxes increase. And yet, that’s exactly what I know many Democrats have in mind for the coming years. One of my biggest priorities will be to stand in the way of any proposed tax increases and fight to make Maryland a more affordable place to live and retire.

Last, but by no means least, is education. During those days in 2020 when children were home and attending their lessons on Chromebooks, many parents discovered that their children weren’t getting what they needed. Public schools tend to take a “one size fits all” approach to learning for most students, but parents know their children best. Many children thrive in a traditional public-school setting, while many would learn better in a specialized charter school, private school, or by being homeschooled. Many schools, especially in Baltimore City, are simply failing the children. In the coming term, I plan to keep fighting for increased accountability and transparency in existing schools, and expanded opportunities for school choice, so that parents, not the government, can choose the best educational model for their children.

Travis Lerol

My priorities are to fix the roads, stop the mandates, and cut the taxes.

  1. Fix the roads. The transportation "lockbox" has been run at a deficit of approximately $1 billion, roads have gone unfixed, and traffic continues to worsen. We need to audit where the money has been spent and ensure that all earmarked funds for transportation are used for the intended purpose. With the amount we are taxed for the roads, there shouldn’t be a pothole in the state.

  2. Stop the mandates. COVID-19 emergency rules hit our area hard, with disruptions to school, closures of local businesses, and health mandates that intrude on personal freedom. Some of these emergency rules still have an impact today and I wish to end any remaining emergency rules, as well as limit future use of emergency powers. Emergency powers are meant for unusual circumstances lasting days or weeks, not months or even years.

  3. Cut the taxes. If we returned only the taxes from last year that remained unspent, every household in the state would receive over $1,000. If inappropriate and wasteful spending were reduced, even more could be returned to the taxpayer. Maryland has become increasingly hard to afford for many, with many retirees moving out for cost-of-living reasons.

I’d like to see my friends and neighbors stay here instead of moving to Florida. If elected, I intend to push multiple bills for broad tax cuts, such as the institution of a 0% state income tax for the first $10,000 of income, and broader sales tax exemptions for medical expenses.

Government needs to get back to the basics, and I call on other candidates to join me in cutting expenses. One thing delegates can do to directly save money is to pledge not to use the stipend of up to $153/day for food and hotel stays, as I have. If you support fiscal responsibility, ask your candidates if they are personally willing to take the first step to reduce government.

Rachel Munoz

My top priorities are to make Maryland affordable, strengthen public safety and improve education. Like everyone else, our family has had our budget stretched to the max with the high price of gas and inflation. You can count on me to work to lower our tax burden. I believe that we should be defending the police who put their lives on the line to keep us safe – not defunding. As a delegate, I will continue to work to give the police the tools they need to do their jobs to keep our community safe. I want our children to receive a quality education and keep politics out of the classroom. I will fight for parents’ rights and age-appropriate education in cooperation with our amazing teachers.

Milad Pooran

Health care in aggregate represents nearly 40% of the Maryland budget. As a practicing physician, I know all too well that access to quality and affordable health care is a cornerstone of a strong and thriving community. These are challenging economic times, especially for women, who now because of political interference face additional hurdles to access the full complement of health care. I am proud to be the endorsed candidate of Planned Parenthood Advocates PAC because they trust me to fight in Annapolis to preserve and protect our liberties.

I started and still operate a small business in Maryland with nearly 50 employees. Daily, we confront the severe difficulties imposed by critical product shortages and the seemingly endless rise in prices. As your next delegate, identifying ways to alleviate some of these stressors will be my priority. We desperately need targeted tax reforms to take the burden off the small businesses - the economic engines driving a prospering middle class. But the economic pressures are deep, and the inflationary forces have hit hardest on those living on fixed incomes. I want to help end pension taxes, once and for all, including taxes on retired military benefits.

As a father of three young kids, nothing is more important to me than ensuring that all children have access to a great education from prekindergarten onward. We must also support technical and vocational training beyond high school for those who wish to pursue skilled trades. The reality that education is the great equalizer certainly manifested in my life; my commitment is to lead the charge in Annapolis to make genuine opportunity available for all Maryland youth.

There will be many critical issues facing the next legislature in January, including the scourge of childhood poverty afflicting far too many Maryland children and the nightmare of the opioid epidemic, which has taken far too many young vibrant lives. As a military veteran with nearly 25 years of service, it would be an honor and privilege to continue my service to my community as a member of the House of Delegates for District 31.

Visit to join our efforts.


Stuart Schmidt Jr.

Stuart Schmidt Jr. could not be reached. According to his website, his top priorities are the following:

  1. Crime and safety: Do a better job of protecting citizens by working with police and connecting them with the community.

  2. Taxes and inflation: Working across the aisle to lower taxes and make living and retiring in Maryland more affordable for retirees.

  3. Education: Fully support parents in making decisions that government should not be involved in.

John Wakefield

I’m John Wakefield, and I am running for delegate in District 33B.

If elected, my highest and most urgent priority is strengthening protections for reproductive rights. The recent Dobbs v. Jackson decision stripped Americans of their fundamental right to privacy, and despite initial claims that the decision was merely returning the issue of abortion back to the states, congressional Republicans are now openly stating that if they retake control of Congress, they will pass a nationwide abortion ban. Last year, we attempted to enshrine reproductive rights in the Maryland Constitution; this year, we must succeed in doing so. We owe it to the people of our state and to the people who come to us from surrounding states where they have been stripped of their rights. We must do more.

Locally, my mission is simple and straightforward: I want to bring the tax dollars home and put them to work. For too long, our district has been represented by elected officials who complain about government spending as a waste of taxpayer dollars, but who then fail to advocate for that spending. This election comes in the wake of multiple large federal spending bills, and as a result, there is money on the table to be had. Our tax dollars paid for these bills, and we deserve to benefit from them. We have an opportunity to address infrastructure concerns like our worn out, flooded, and overly congested roads. Likewise, there is funding for climate projects, which would be especially beneficial to the people of our district, living in the third-most at-risk watershed in the country.

Protecting that watershed, as well as the rest of our environment, is my third priority. Our district has experienced a great deal of growth, and all that development has taken a severe toll on our environment. Our floodplain is overburdened, and we still need to do more to correct for the deforestation of the previous decade. We are blessed to live in such a wonderful ecosystem; that ecosystem must be protected.


Heather Bagnall

Over the last four years as your delegate, I have established a reputation as a pragmatic problem-solver and responsive representative. Education, cost of living, crime reduction, and environment remain topline concerns for most Marylanders and District 33 falls squarely in that camp, but in addition, there are challenges and concerns to which I have become a meaningful voice in Maryland. My top three priorities during year one of my second term are behavioral health care, whistleblower protections, and child care.

Behavioral health access and care - As many who read this publication are aware, I have been laser focused on expanding access to behavioral health services and addressing workforce issues, particularly for constituents with acute, complex behavioral health concerns, which are resource heavy, challenging to families and communities, and difficult to place. For four years, I have remained steadfast in my commitment for better access to patient-centered behavioral health care and a coordinated system.

Whistleblower protections for public employees – During the pandemic, there were several high-profile stories including misappropriation of funds, spoiled vaccines, inside dealing, and other violations within our state agencies and they came to light only when someone within the department came forward. Though “see something, say something” makes a great slogan at the airport, for our state employees, that phrase could be “see something, say something, lose something.” Although we have wrongful termination protections in law, our protections from retaliatory efforts are quite weak; a tremendous disservice and potential danger to the tax paying public when the people doing and seeing the work are disincentivized to speak up when something is wrong.

Child care – Access to affordable, dependable child care remains a significant barrier for many families. We need to rethink child care models, as many larger centers run with razor-thin profit margins, and little flexibility for working parents. With the rollout of universal pre-k on the horizon and the transition of many child care facilities to early childhood education centers, now is the time to establish a more family friendly, economically accessible, and adaptable child care system, and to create regulations that allow for more flexibility in the establishment and maintenance of smaller, in-home day care.

Kerry Gillespie

I am not a career politician and I want to represent you, not be a rubber stamp for one party. I am a marketing professional, a volunteer community advocate, and a mother of four who, as delegate for District 33C, will work across the aisle to deliver results for our community and to serve the people.

The top issues I will address as your delegate are to:

Ensure schools deliver a quality, back-to-basics education for all students, while advocating for parental rights and ensuring our vital teachers have a voice.

Our children have experienced a huge learning regression following school closures, with Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) testing showing only 15% of students in Maryland at grade level for math. We must have discussions about how to best use our tax dollars to make sure the funds find their way into the classrooms where they belong, and to provide teachers with the resources they need to help children reach their full learning potential.

Fully support and fund our law enforcement and first responders.

Violent crime rates are on the rise across Maryland. Ensuring those who keep our communities safe are supported in their public safety mission should be one of the most important jobs of the government. As your state delegate, I will advocate for tougher sentences to keep violent offenders behind bars and off the streets. And I will work to bring state funding to the county to expand the school resource officer program to keep our children and teachers safe while in school.

Proactively work with state and county partners to improve our road infrastructure and traffic congestion. With Maryland moving forward with the Bay Bridge third span project, it is imperative that we have a leader who will proactively represent our district and stay on top of this project to ensure our communities are protected and our concerns are heard. I will be that proactive leader who regularly meets with state and county transportation officials to be a voice for the community so that our transportation issues will be addressed in a timely manner.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here