Cardin: Nothing More Important Than Protecting Children

Jon Cardin, Washington Jewish Week

It has been my honor to represent the 11th District for the past 12 years. As I reflect on the last decade, it is not just of the bills I’ve passed and the people I’ve helped, but the integrity with which I have worked and the vision I have crafted for moving forward into the Office of the Attorney General.

I am proud of both my work as a lawyer, righting people’s wrongs and my record in the General Assembly. And yet, I am not merely running on my legal experience or my legislative record. I am running on my vision for the future of Maryland – the place I have dedicated my career to improving. I am running so that Marylanders are treated fairly, equitably and with dignity and respect. I am running for attorney general to keep Maryland two steps ahead of the new threats facing our families.

When I was a student at Beth Tfiloh and Park School, framing my worldview and learning the Jewish principles that have guided me, the world was a very different place. Public safety meant avoiding muggings downtown, not worrying about mass shootings and whether your children will come home from school at the end of the day. Environmental protection was about picking up litter and cutting up six packs, not carbon emissions and their effects on climate change. Consumer protection was about making sure you bought a safe car, not identity theft, or knowing which websites and emails are safe to open. The next AG must focus on the future, on new threats like mass shootings, climate change, and cybersecurity without losing focus on persistent problems like crime, litter, and safe products.

I followed my grandfather Meyer and Uncle Ben into a life of politics for a single passion, the environment. I was concerned that we could be the first generation in American history unable to leave a better world for our children than the one we inherited. Since then, we have done a tremendous job in cleaning up the Bay, our drinking water and our air. And yet, in these past 12 years, a new generation of challenges has emerged. Predatory lenders, check-cashing schemes, and hackers that phish for your personal information all undermine the growth of our working and middle class. Just two years ago, almost 17 million people fell victim to identity theft, robbing us of $25 billion. We are losing the arms race to hackers who are using increasingly sophisticated methods to steal your credit card and private information. We must increase the resources to local, state, and federal law enforcement officials to help them keep pace with the evolving threats to cybersecurity.

The world is becoming increasingly complex and dangerous. We need an attorney general who is in touch with these challenges. My law degree and master’s in both Jewish studies and public policy have afforded me the experience to identify and solve problems efficiently and effectively. There is a reason why the person who passed the toughest anti-cyberbullying legislation in the country and comprehensive criminalization of cyber sexual harassment (revenge porn) is running to be the chief legal officer of the state. Before my daughter even learned how to walk, she was playing music on my wife’s iPhone and calling her grandparents, who live in Boston, over Skype. This is the kind of next-generation world in which our children are growing up. Technology presents both tremendous opportunity and terrible danger. Both must be addressed by the next attorney general, and there is nothing more important for the AG than protecting our children.

As one of the most pragmatic and progressive members of the General Assembly, as a full-time general practice lawyer and as a father of a 2-year-old (with another on the way), I am uniquely qualified to focus on problems both new and old.

The writer, a state delegate from Baltimore County, is a Democratic candidate for attorney general.