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Wednesday, June 18, 1 p.m. ET

Maryland 4th District Special Election

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Donna Edwards
Congresswoman-elect for Maryland's 4th District
Wednesday, June 18, 2008; 1:00 PM

Donna Edwards, winner of the special election for Maryland's 4th District Congressional District, was online Wednesday, June 18 at 1 p.m. ET to take your questions about her victory and her hopes for her term in Congress.

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A transcript follows.

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Donna Edwards: Hello Everyone! I'm very excited to join you today. With the help of the people of the 4th Congressional District, it appears that I will be sworn in tomorrow, Thursday, at midday.

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Silver Spring, Md.: When will you be sworn it? Is it open to the public and possible for people who worked on your campaign to attend?

Donna Edwards: The swearing in is open to the public. You can join the public line to enter the House Gallery. I hope to see you there.

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Rockville, Md.:1. What are your most important priorities over the next six months, and if re-elected, during your first full term?

2. Given our current (and possible future) revenue constraints, can Maryland officials design and institute a more cost-effective method (i.e., well less than $1 million) of selecting people to fill House seats that become vacant before terms expire?

Donna Edwards: My most immediate priorities are to reopen our Congressional office, begin to respond to constituent requests, take care of the most immediate legislative activities in the remaining days of this Congress. Then, I'll be focussing on health care, energy and the environment, education and helping us think through a responsible direction to end the war in Iraq. We also have a lot of district wide priorities that will be consuming a good deal of my time.

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Silver Spring, Md.: I know you have said you want to get on the Energy and Commerce Committee but we could really use you on Education and Labor as well, particularly the Workforce Protections subcommittee.

Donna Edwards: Right now, I'm working with the House Leadership to look carefully at the current committee vacancies and identify areas that in which I can develop expertise. This will certainly not preclude my work on pressing concerns on education and workforce development.

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College Park, Md.: Donna - I assume you will be staffing up soon. Been following your career and would love to join you as you transition into the seat and go into the Nov. election. How does one get in touch with you?

Donna Edwards: I have just begun the process to identify competent, smart, and responsible staff to serve our district. I encourage any who may be interested to send their resume along to our office for consideration.

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Mitchellville, Md.: Congrat's on the election. Didn't even know there was a special election until today when I read about it in the Post! Anyway, my question is, compared to Congressman Wynn, how will you make yourself more accessible to your constituents so they can contact you instead of just being around during election time

Donna Edwards: I am looking at various ways to serve our very diverse congressional district, including electronic town hall meetings, mobile offices, and district offices that are accessible. I will also be out in our communities hearing directly from constituents.

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Takoma Park, Md.: Will you pursue any legislative initiatives during this session?

Will you adopt any of your predecessor's legislation?

Have you had any discussions with the leadership about committee assignments?

My family believes in your leadership and we are looking forward to your tenure in office! Felicitations!

Donna Edwards: At this time, I will be working with the Leadership and the Maryland delegation to address some outstanding appropriations issues that may have been left on hold since my predecessor's departure -- keep in mind that the office has actually been vacant since May 31, so it will take some regrouping to place these items that may have been left unattended back in the process.

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Washington, D.C.: How can you help improve the metro access in PG County? Southern Ave. and Naylor Road metro stations do not have enough parking making commuters drive into D.C. This seems like an easy problem to fix, but lacks leadership to get it done.

Donna Edwards: I understand from the Maryland delegation that a significant Metrorail maintenance and upgrade bill moved through the House last week. I will need to look into this. Not all of these issues are federal however, and need to be addressed by local officials and the regional transportation authorities. I know that access for prospective commuters is an issue. I believe that if we want people to take advantage of public/mass transit then we need to make it work and make it work for all users. Next year will mark the most significant opportunity in a decade to address transportation issues and I want to be a part of that debate for our region.

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Clinton, Md.: How are you going to address the education issues in the community?

Donna Edwards: It appears based on the current Congressional calendar that the issues raised by No Child Left Behind that significantly impact our children and our educators will come up when the law is reviewed next year. I intend to meet with our superintendents and boards for both counties and our elected leaders and educators and parents to approach these questions in the most thoughtful manner. There are no easy answers and the challenges are different for each county that comprises our congressional district.

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Washington, D.C.: Congratulations on your win Donna! I was wondering if you have spoken with former Congressman Al Wynn since the election. Has he offered his congratulations? Obviously there is a lot of back history there. Also, who has been serving as a representative since he resigned? I guess I could Google that. Thanks!

Donna Edwards: I have not been in touch with the Congressman since yesterday or since his departure on May 31. I did, however, meet with him shortly after his announced resignation to discuss the transition. Actually, the special election was necessary and important precisely because we are currently without representation since May 31 until I will be sworn in tomorrow. The alternative to a special election would have been to maintain a vacancy in the seat until the end of the year, so this has actually worked to the advantage of the 4th Congressional District. I appreciate the help of the others in our delegation and their staffs, including the Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, our Senators Mikulski and Cardin, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger -- they have been extraordinarily helpful in these last several months and I look forward to working with them beginning tomorrow.

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Falls Church, Va.: I'm a conservative voter living in Virginia. Do you plan on making any efforts to get along with conservatives, or are you simply another liberal Congressperson.

Donna Edwards: I have a long history of working with people who share an interest in all our communities, wealthy and not, in and outside of the beltway, and of all races and gender and backgrounds. That will not change when I go to Congress.

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Clarksburg, Maryland: Congratulations, Representative Edwards! As you may be aware, your upcounty residents have been facing a lengthy delay in infrastructure and amenities that were to have been built back in 2006. How will you ensure that these critical needs are met soon? The I-270 corridor is increasingly congested and federal funds are needed for expansion of light rail, expansion of I-270 north towards Frederick, etc.

Donna Edwards: Thank you for this question -- the challenges of transportation on the northern and southern ends of the congressional district are similar. As we approach this significant transportation bill next year, I look forward to working with communities in upcounty, Montgomery County, and south county, Prince George's County, to address mass transit needs, particularly light rail. This will require a lot of coordination with our Governor and the state to set the appropriate priorities.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Congratulations on being the first African American woman in Congress from Maryland. As someone who voted for you, I wish you much success. And, I look forward to voting for you in the November election. Do you think you'll be getting involved in telecommunications issues, specifically FCC regulation of media ownership, minority and women ownership, localism, low power radio/TV etc.?

Donna Edwards: As you may know, I have a long history from my years at the Arca Foundation leading nationally on telecommunications issues -- access, affordability, ownership, etc. I hope to continue these efforts, especially if I'm fortunate enough to land on a relevant congressional committee.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Are you excited about your new superdelegate status? Obama rocks

Donna Edwards: I am excited about the dynamic, visionary, "can do" leadership of Senator Obama. I look forward to supporting his candidacy and to being as helpful to him here in Maryland and around the country as I can be. We need Barack Obama as the next President of the United States and I'm grateful that I will be in the Congress to help carry out his agenda on behalf of our congressional district and our country. Contact our campaign office if you would like to volunteer with us to make his candidacy a presidential reality -- info@donnaedwardsforcongress.com.

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Silver Spring, Md.: On what issues will you differ from the SEIU union and the League of Conservation voters, two groups that made "independent" expenditures of over 1/2 million dollars each in favor of your candidacy?

Donna Edwards: I share the values of all who seek to elevate the voices of ordinary working people -- for wages that allow them to take care of themselves and their families; for health care and other benefits that are affordable, accessible, and of quality; for the right to organize and strengthen the prospects for all workers. I believe in preserving and protecting the environment for future generations and ensuring that we invest in alternative energy sources to detach ourselves from fossil fuels like oil and the high energy costs that result from using up a shrinking resource. This is not about institutions and interests, it's about values, so I'm grateful for the support of these organizations because I share their values. You should also know that I am an independent thinker -- I take in information, I research the alternatives, and I come to conclusions. We may not always agree but we'll have a strong dialogue about the challenges we face.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Congratulations! Although you are not my representative, it makes me so proud and happy that Maryland finally has an African-American female representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. Any thoughts on the historic nature of your election? Thanks!

Donna Edwards: Thank you so much for your kind wishes. I'm looking forward to representing the people of the 4th Congressional District. I am humbled by the confidence that the voters have shown in me and I will not let them down. I'm ready to get to work. The history of the moment is not lost in me -- from my Mother and Grandmother and the sacrifices that they and their generations have made for me to the extraordinary leadership of women like Barbara Jordan who preceded me in the United States Congress. I do not take this responsibility lightly.

Thank you again for allowing me to chat with you today.

Signing off, now.

Donna Edwards

Congresswoman-elect

Maryland 4

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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