Heather R. Mizeur, the leading Democratic candidate in the 1st congressional district, is releasing an economic plan Thursday designed to spur the local economy, change the business and employment narrative for the largely rural district, maximize federal resources, and spotlight her own experience at multiple levels of government.
Mizeur is timing the release of her plan to a series of appearances in Salisbury on Thursday, where she’ll visit a marina, a shipyard and a city park that’s under construction with Mayor Jacob R. Day and participate later in a Democratic candidate forum at Wor-Wic Community College.
Mizeur, who represented Montgomery County in the House of Delegates from 2007 to 2015, is seeking to challenge six-term U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris, the lone Republican in the state’s congressional delegation. The 1st District is mostly conservative territory that includes the entire Eastern Shore plus parts of Baltimore and Harford counties.
But Mizeur is counting on her economic pitch having widespread appeal. Her 33-page “EconomyFirst” proposal is an ambitious 10-point plan, but it is not, as she points out, a spending blueprint. Rather, it’s a road map for ensuring the 1st District gets its share of money that Congress is already allocating.
The plan mostly does not rely on new spending — though in some cases Mizeur calls for “targeted new investments,” which she proposes paying for by closing tax loopholes for large corporations and seeking to tax individuals earning $400,000 a year at the same rates they were paying before the 2017 Trump tax cuts went into effect.
“My top priority as your Congresswoman will always be the economy first — leading conversations and driving policy solutions that will keep our regional economy vibrant and strong,” Mizeur writes at the top of the document. “That starts with tackling inflation, lowering taxes for middle class families and small business owners, and creating more good-paying jobs.”
In her plan, Mizeur invokes the name of former state House Appropriations Committee Chair Norman H. Conway, a Democratic icon on the Lower Shore, with whom she served in Annapolis.
“Conway always stressed our Eastern Shore budget values of being ‘socially responsible and fiscally prudent,’” Mizeur wrote. “EconomyFirst is a reflection of that philosophy.”
The 10 planks in Mizeur’s plan are:
- Reining in Inflation and Lowering Costs
- Tax Relief for Small Businesses and Support for the Middle Class
- Manufacturing and Construction
- Workforce Training and Education
- Housing and Community Development
- Agriculture and Forestry
- Commercial Fishing and Aquaculture
- Arts and Culture
- Defense and Cybersecurity
The plan then provides several specific proposals within each category. They range from meat and potatoes items, like temporarily suspending the federal gasoline tax and adding a rural economy component to the calculation of the Consumer Price Index, to asking the Federal Trade Commission to examine consolidation in the oil and gas markets, to expanding tax relief for small businesses and middle class families, to raising the federal minimum wage.
Mizeur also vows to support and prioritize the needs of the district’s manufacturing facilities, like Frito-Lay Snacks in Aberdeen, Veltec plastics processing in Elkton, Dixon Valve & Coupling in Chestertown, Paul Reed Smith Guitars in Stevensville, and all the activities connected to offshore wind energy development. She also argues that the life sciences industry is poised to grow in the region and suggests the federal government can be a reliable partner. But at the same time she offers full-throated support for organized labor, arguing that a unionized labor force provides more skilled workers for industries that are finding it difficult to make crucial hires.
Mizeur seeks a tax credit for renters, to preserve affordable housing, and suggests ways local governments can partner with industry to ensure that there’s adequate housing for seasonal workers in Ocean City. She said she’ll also seek a Maryland office for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Program.
At the end of the long policy document, Mizeur makes her closing argument — that she is “a skilled legislator” with policy experience at the federal, state and local levels and a “reputation as a pragmatic consensus builder who knows how to get things done.”
“If you give me the honor to represent you, I will work hard every day to deliver the results I have outlined in this blueprint for economic development for our region,” she says. “I dare say that in the mere writing of this plan, I have already put more thought and work into our region’s economic future than Andy Harris has devoted to this topic in almost twelve years as our Representative.
“I am running for Congress to be the fierce advocate we deserve; to wake up every day looking for new ways to help lower the cost of living, create better jobs, and put more money in your pockets. It’s not enough for me to make the case on why I want you to fire Andy Harris. It’s my job to make you excited to hire me.”
The candidate forum, which will feature Mizeur and foreign policy analyst R. David Harden, will take place at 6 p.m. in Guerierri Hall at the community college. It’s co-sponsored by the Greater Salisbury Committee, a business and civic organization, and the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Salisbury University.
By Josh Kurtz
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