Angela Alsobrooks, the county executive of Prince George’s County, is one of the leading Democratic candidates in the Maryland Senate race.
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Maryland Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks stressed the importance of “first chances” in boosting societal outcomes. “There is no economic growth without us investing in humans,” Alsobrooks told BI in an interview.If elected, Alsobrooks, a former prosecutor, would become Maryland’s first Black senator.
In Maryland’s US Senate race, the candidates competing for the Democratic nomination have addressed pressing voter concerns like cost-of-living issues, affordable housing, and public safety.
For Angela Alsobrooks, the county executive of Prince George’s County and a leading Senate candidate, focusing on economic matters is key. But before the economy can reach its full potential, Alsobrooks stressed that the country must invest in its citizens.
“There is no economic growth without us investing in humans,” Alsobrooks said. “We talk a lot about economic development, but what we need to really talk about is how we invest in humans. When I think about true economic opportunity, I think about things like a child tax credit, which might help a family be able to afford daycare. This is critically important to the average family.”
(While the House in January passed a bipartisan $78 billion tax package that expanded the child tax credit, a significant legislative breakthrough in the closely-divided chamber, its passage in the Senate is still unclear, which Alsobrooks also noted.)
Alsobrooks, who previously served as the Prince George’s County state’s attorney and was first elected as county executive in 2018, is running to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, an institution in Maryland politics. Her principal opponent in the May 14 Democratic primary is Rep. David Trone, who represents the state’s 6th congressional district.
If she wins the primary and general election, Alsobrooks would become Maryland’s first Black senator and potentially be part of a small cohort of Black women in the upper chamber. The county executive, who has been endorsed by Gov. Wes Moore, recently spoke with Business Insider about her campaign.
Questions and answers have been edited for brevity.
Business Insider’s John L. Dorman: What inspired you to run for the Senate?
County Executive Angela Alsobrooks: It is my strongly held belief that people deserve first chances in our country. I’ve had so much experience over the years of watching people who struggle to get what people would define as a second chance when I realized they never really had a first chance investment: no pre-K education, mothers who were delivering babies without maternal and prenatal care, the people who never really got that economic opportunity, and people who haven’t had access to healthcare.
Somebody has to fight to make sure that people whose voices are not heard and whose lived experiences are not understood truly have what they need to be successful in our country.
Alsobrooks served as the Prince George’s County state’s attorney from 2011 to 2018.
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JD: You spoke about the need to invest in humans in order to fully address economic issues. As a public official, what have you seen that’s driven your worldview on this issue?
AA: Something as instrumental as having childcare is really important. I was a prosecutor for many years and had a number of cases that happened almost in the same timespan where there were small children who had been murdered.
One of the cases in particular was the case of a young boy who was 2 years old. His mother went to work and she left the child at home with someone because she couldn’t afford childcare, and that person murdered her child. Rather than looking at her and asking what was wrong with her because she left her child in the care of a person who was unsafe, I realized immediately as a mother myself with a young child of how cost prohibitive childcare is. I was working as a lawyer, so I know a person who had a different salary would have difficulty.
So I worked to make sure that we made available to young families the ability to put in their zip code and put in their salary and find licensed childcare in the vicinity of where they live. We have to make those kinds of resources available and have people in office who are sensitive to the challenges and needs of families.
JD: In what other ways would you say your time as state’s attorney prepared you for the Senate?
It’s the best preparation ever because I got to sit close to families. I spent 13 years inside a courthouse and inside a courtroom. I saw what happened when there was no mental health care, when there was no care for people who had addictions, what the dearth of affordable housing meant to families, and what it meant for parents to have higher incomes so they could sit down and do homework with their kids at the table in the evening.
As county executive, I opened the first of its kind mental health and addiction care facility in the county. This was in response to what I saw when I realized that 70% of the people we arrested every day and took to the local departments of corrections were intoxicated when they arrived — and a third of the people we arrested were on psychotropic medications.
JD: What do you think the Senate isn’t doing that they should be prioritizing?
AA: They need to focus on issues that are at the kitchen tables of everyday, hardworking families. And I don’t know that they are. If you can focus on blocking — as Senator [Tommy] Tuberville did — over 400 military appointments at a time when our country’s safety and security is an issue, it tells me that we’re out of sync in so many ways. The Senate isn’t representative of the lived experiences of everyday people.
One thing the Senate needs to do is to eliminate the filibuster. We can see how progress has been blocked, from essential voting rights legislation to so many other areas.