By James Wright, Special to the AFRO,

On May 24, eight candidates running to represent their districts in the Maryland Senate voiced their views during a forum at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden (FCG).

The senatorial candidates were invited to the forum because of the church’s reach and parishioners’ concerns. FCG, which has an estimated 10,000 members, has its sanctuary/administrative offices in Glenarden, a ministry center in Landover, and a worship center in Upper Marlboro that are in different senatorial districts.

Melony Griffith is a Maryland Senate candidate in District 25. (Photo Courtesy of Melony Griffith)

District 23 candidates were challenger Tim Adams and incumbent Sen. Douglass “J.J.” Peters while District 24 participants were Sen. Joanne Benson with former Maryland Del. Tiffany Alston and Everett Browning as hopefuls wanting her seat. District 25 doesn’t have an incumbent and the candidates are former Maryland Del. Melony Griffith, Maryland Del. Angela Angel and Jonathan Rosero.

Adams said children are vital to the future of Prince George’s County and Maryland and the county’s education system must be improved. “Our school is ranked 23 out of 24 Maryland jurisdictions,” he said. “We must raise the pay for our teachers and make sure that universal Pre-K is available to all. We must treat our teachers better because they make the difference in our children’s lives.”

Peters talked about the ongoing controversy regarding physician-assisted suicide and why he is against it.

Benson said she supports a $15-an-hour minimum wage. “People should be paid a decent wage,” she said. “I also support paid sick leave in the state and I will work diligently on that when I go back to the Annapolis .

Browning said redistricting taking place in 2021 must be fair and not drawn to protect incumbents in office. “Districts should be drawn that make sense and not look crazy on a map,” he said.

Angel said she supports the historically Black colleges and universities law suit against Maryland, adding that institutions with predominantly Black student bodies should be given equitable funding by the state with those with White students in the majority. Griffith said she could work with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) as a senator, but hopes she won’t have to. “When I served in Annapolis from 1999-2013, I worked under Democratic and Republican governors,” Griffith said.

Rosero said he doesn’t support the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana but is in favor of decriminalization. “I do support the decriminalization of marijuana because that would help people who made a mistake get back on their feet as far as the criminal justice system is concerned,” he said.

The Maryland Democratic Party primary is June 26.