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(Photo Credit: Michael A. Graham, 100 Black Men of Prince George’s County)

Over 400 people attended the 4th annual community breakfast hosted by 100 Black Men of Prince George’s County, Md. on April 11. Under the theme “Empowering Our Community with Tomorrow’s Leaders,” Maryland’s newly elected Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford was the keynote speaker.

Having previously served as the Associate Administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration and Assistant Secretary for Administration for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rutherford said he was beginning to grow the clientele of his private law firm when he got the call from Larry Hogan Jr. requesting a meeting. “I turned to my wife and said, ‘I hope they’re not going to ask me to run for lieutenant governor’,” he said.

But after talking it over with family and friends, Rutherford, a Republican, accepted Hogan’s offer and became the ninth lieutenant governor of the state of Maryland. “I jumped into the race and quite frankly I enjoyed it,” he said. “We listened to the issues. It wasn’t an issue of Democrat or Republican. They were issues of Marylanders. We believe the city elected us to put Maryland on a different path.” Whether it’s cheering for the Dallas Cowboys in Washington Redskins territory or questioning the need to register as a Democrat, Rutherford described himself as a person who has always chartered his own path. “As my mother will tell you, I’ve always walked my own way,” he said. “I was always willing to challenge the status quo.”

Submitting a budget was at the top of Rutherford’s to-do list upon taking office. He also briefly mentioned his goal of bettering schools and tackling Maryland’s growing heroin problem.

Rutherford applauded the 100 Black Men of Prince George’s County for their work in the community, saying citizens cannot look solely at the government to solve problems.

Inviting Rutherford to speak at the event was an easy choice, said Michael Graham, chairman of 100 Black Men of Prince George’s County marketing and public relations committee. “We like to bring power to the community, because often times we don’t get access to them, whether we vote for them or not,” Graham said. “He still represents you whether you’re a ‘D’ or a ‘R’.”

The organization is one of 118 chapters of the international organization, founded in New York in 1963. Money raised from the community breakfast fundraiser will go toward supporting its four pillars – mentoring, health and wellness, economic empowerment, and education.

Sylvester Vaughn, former president of the county’s NAACP chapter, who was instrumental in desegregating the county’s schools, joked that Rutherford was asked to be Gov. Hogan’s running mate after he had turned down the invitation.

“ asked me to run for lieutenant governor, but he found out that I’d been ill, so he had to find someone to stand in for me,” Vaughns said.

Congresswoman Donna Edwards and county council members Karen R. Toles and Deni Taveras were also guests at the fundraiser, which in prior years has raised over $25,000. This year marked the organization’s largest turnout.