Alvin Thornton

Alvin Thornton (Courtesy Photo)

Alvin Thornton, whose name is synonymous in Maryland with unprecedented parity and increases in public school funding, is joining the 2016 political fray. Thornton will formally announce his candidacy for Maryland’s Fourth Congressional District seat on July 28 at 7 p.m. in the Glenarden Municipal Center in Prince George’s County.

“Although the goal of my campaign is to win the election, I see my candidacy as launching a movement to realize enhanced citizenship, opportunity, and the quality of life across our district and state,” Thornton said in a statement. “My track record of community service and leadership in Prince George’s County and across Maryland for nearly four decades uniquely qualifies me to lead this much needed effort.”

An author and faculty member of the Howard University Political Science Department for more than three decades, Thornton was, in 1999, appointed by then-Gov. Parris Glendenning as chairman of the legislature’s Commission on Education Finance, Equity, and Excellence or the Thornton Commission.

The Commission is nationally recognized for building consensus and designing the current framework for how Maryland funds its schools. The Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act of 2002, which came out of the Commission’s report, has boosted state education funding by more than $1 billion over several years.

Thornton said his experience on the Commission and elsewhere equips him to bring together diverse communities in the Fourth Congressional District around issues such as: full employment; enhanced business opportunities;  access to high quality, affordable education; access to affordable universal health care; full economic, political, and social equity for women; maintaining the integrity of Social Security and Medicare; enhanced political and civil rights protections and the integrity of elections; immigration reform and more.

“Only by building bridges between and among the divergent communities of interest that populate our congressional district can we move forward with a progressive agenda that addresses these important issues at the federal, state, and local levels of government,” said Thornton.

In his long-standing career at Howard University, Thornton has served in several administrative capacities, in addition to his work in the classroom, including as chair of the political science department, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, associate provost for academic affairs, interim provost and chief academic officer, and senior academic advisor to the president.

He has also been civically engaged, leading efforts to expand democratic rights in Prince George’s County as chairman of major citizens committees that addressed redistricting (Citizens for Representative Redistricting); and police accountability (Coalition Against Police Brutality).

Thornton has received several commendations for his leadership, including: the NAACP Image Award (Prince George’s County, Md.); Friend of Education Award (Maryland State Teachers’ Association); the Emma Mae Posner Award (Prince George’s County Historical Society); and two Fannie Lou Hamer Service Awards (National Conference of Black Political Scientists).

Maryland’s Fourth Congressional House seat was left open by Democrat Rep. Donna Edwards, who is running for U.S. senator. The race promises to be one of the more closely watched Democratic primary contests, with heavyweight contenders such as former state’s attorney Glenn Ivey, former lieutenant governor Anthony Brown and Del. Dereck E. Davis, the powerful chairman of the state’s House Economic Matters Committee, in the field.