Candidate Survey: Verelyn Gibbs Watson for State Senate, District 39
Verelyn Gibbs Watson
Office Sought and District
State Delegate – District 39
Harvard University – Kennedy School of Government (Executive Education), MBA – Pace University – Lubin School of Business ; BS – Morgan State University – Earl Graves School of Business
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I am not a career politician. While I have not previously sought public office, I have held leadership positions in civic/non-profit organizations/associations.
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Why are you running for office?
The most important reason I am running is because I support small businesses and want small business owners to have a larger voice in our legislative process. As a small business owner, I constantly feel the burden of legislative decisions enacted without full understanding of the ultimate impact on the small business community. We need to change that. So rather than sit on the sidelines complaining, I decided to get in the game.
Who do you consider your political role model, and why?
While I have many political heroes, I consider Gov. Larry Hogan my political role model. I am impressed with his work ethic and how well he represents all of Maryland, regardless of personal party affiliation. On a more personal level, I just admire how despite his battle with cancer he has not missed a beat when it comes to serving the great state of Maryland. Truly inspirational.
What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why?
“It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership” by Gen. Colin Powell. Although it could be argued that this book is more about leadership than politics per se, the unique perspective Gen. Powell offers from serving in both Republican and Democratic administrations is invaluable. His “13 Rules” are insights to live by in my opinion. He is one of my heroes, not because he claims to be perfect, but because even when things didn’t go perfectly, he used the experience to learn from and to teach others.
What will be your top priority in the General Assembly?
Advocating for small businesses and giving small business owners a true seat at the table to make sure the impact on them is at the forefront, not the backend of legislative decisions.
What is the biggest issue facing your district?
The lack of support for small businesses.
What are the three biggest issues facing Maryland?
(1) The lack of support for small business. (2) The heroin and opioid crisis. (3) Infrastructure challenges – specifically as it relates to traffic and transportation.
What is your position on life issues? (abortion, assisted suicide)
I believe in small government and do not think that the government should be involved in deciding these matters.
What is your position on taxes and spending?
Lower taxes. Lower spending in general, but base spending priorities on what offers greatest returns.
What is your position on gun rights?
I am not an advocate for taking away anyone’s constitutional rights, however as a mother, I also cannot in good conscience advocate for regulations that make it easier for murderers to gun down children in schools.
What is your position on education?
Education is the most important resource in our state and our society. I am especially passionate about early literacy programs and doing everything possible to close the achievement gap to make sure every child has the chance to succeed.
What is your position on the legalization of marijuana?
I support legalization for medical purposes.
What is your position on the current three-tiered system for the sale and distribution of alcohol?
In general, I am in support of decisions that would create a more advantageous environment for small business owners who are impacted by alcohol related legislation.
Legislators can receive $101 per day for lodging and $47 per day for meals during the 90-day General Assembly session. If elected, do you plan to accept these benefits? Why or why not?
I do not think that access to financial resources should be a barrier to the performance of public office responsibilities, nor should such performance create a personal financial hardship for the elected official.
There is a culture of depravity and sexual harassment prevalent in the Maryland General Assembly. As a legislator, how will you work to end this culture of depravity and to ensure that those who commit these acts are removed from the General Assembly?
Elected officials should strive to hold themselves to the highest standards. Those who fall short of this goal should be held accountable by their peers and more importantly, their by constituents. Increasing the political diversity in our state legislature could also have a positive impact in addressing this issue.