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Bob Levey
Bob Levey
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Q&A With Bob Levey
Washington Post Columnist
Tuesday, April 23, 2002; Noon EDT

"Levey Live" appears Tuesdays at noon EDT. Your host is Washington Post columnist Bob Levey. This hour is your chance to talk directly to key Washington Post reporters and editors, local officials and people in the news.

Today, Bobís guest is Mark Shriver, candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Marylandís 8th Congressional District.
Mark Shriver
Mark Shriver

Shriver is a lifelong resident of Montgomery County and graduated from high school in Rockville in 1982. An undergraduate of The College of Holy Cross, Mark received a masterís degree from Harvard University and began his career as a special assistant to former Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer.

In 1994, Shriver was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates where he served on the Ways and Means Committee. In Annapolis, Shriver worked for environmental protection, rural land preservation, a tough but fair criminal justice system, senior's health care, public education, civil rights for people with disabilities and aggressive gun safety controls.

Shriver was named chair of the Joint Committee on Children and Youth and Families in 1999, making him the youngest committee chair in Annapolis. He also chairs a Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee and serves on the Joint Committee on Welfare Reform.

The transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

Bob Levey: Good afternoon, Delegate Shriver. We're glad to have you with us this afternoon. Let's begin with a question about Connie Morella. She has been in office longer than many of her constituents have been on earth. She has been voted "the least Republican Republican" on the Hill. She has lots of friends. How do you plan to beat her?

Mark Shriver: Hi Bob, glad to be with you. This will be a tough race, but it is very important and winnable.

I've spent the last 15 years working with families on education, gun control, a clean and safe environment. Clearly, the Republican leadership -- Mr. Hastert, Mr. DeLay and Mr. Armey-- don't support these priorities. The support tax cuts for the wealthy and special interests at the cost of programs like Head Start and the COPs program which puts police officers on the street.

Connie Morella is a nice person, and she sometimes votes for Democratic legislation. But the very first vote she casts each session is her most egregious Ė the vote she casts for a Republican House Speaker and a right-wing GOP legislative agenda. Itís not enough to occasionally give working families your vote. You have to give them your voice.

Chevy Chase, Md.: Our neighbor, a brilliant student with a bright future, was killed by a punk with a handgun at Yale University several years ago. Since then, our family has been passionate about gun safety, trigger locks, closing the gun show loophole, etc. What is you position on this issue? It will determine who we vote for this year.

Mark Shriver: Iím so sorry about the loss of your neighbor to gun violence. I too, am gravely concerned about the gun crisis in America. In Maryland alone, nearly 650 people lose their lives to gun violence each year, and the handgun death rate for children under 18 is higher than any other state in the union.

Coming from a family who has suffered great loss to gun violence, fighting for gun safety is more than a call to action for me; its personal. This year, I sponsored legislation to create a licensing process for handgun owners, to improve gun safety training, and previously have strongly supported legislation to require trigger locks on all guns. Iíve been ridiculed and compared to a Nazi for these stands by the NRA and others, but I donít intend to stop fighting for gun safety measures until we get guns out of the hands of criminals and keep them away from our children.

Bob Levey: You're a Kennedy, of course. A good thing to be? A cross to bear?

Mark Shriver: I am very proud of my family and was raised to believe that politics is a noble and worthy profession. I was born and raised here in Montgomery County and was raised with by serving our neighbors and communities we can bend the course of history and build a better future, and that there is no higher calling than that of public service.

Potomac, Md.: How do you feel about the Democratic Mayor of Washington, DC, Anthony Williams, supporting Congresswoman Connie Morella?

Mark Shriver: The recent brouhaha over Mayor Williamís fundraiser for Connie Morella is about more than who is raising money for which candidate. The real issue is what kind of Congress --Democratic or Republican -- will support D.C. statehood? Which party will fight for taxation with representation for residents of the District of Columbia? Which Congressional candidates would welcome Representative Norton as an equal Member of the House with full voting rights? The answer is easy: the Democrats. Until the current Republican House leadership is demoted to minority status, the citizens of the District of Columbia will be denied the same level of Congressional representation enjoyed by their neighbors in Maryland and Virginia, notwithstanding whose name shows up on a fundraising invitation. I will be a strong voice in Congress for D.C. statehood and will work steadfastly to promote full representation for DC residents.

Silver Spring, Md.: Will you and the other candidates in the Democratic primary have debates? If so, when and where?

Mark Shriver: Yes, we have already had multi-candidate forums and I look forward to several more. I think public forums and debates is politics at its best.

I was proud to be endorsed by the Coalition of Asian-Pacific American Democratic Club, who hosted the first forum last year.

Upcoming forums include one hosted by the New Democrats in Rockville and another hosted by the Takoma Park Voice.

Call my office at 240-747-3005 for more information about when and where.

Frederick, Md.: My family had to move out of Montgomery, where we had rented for three years, because we couldn't afford to buy a house there. What, if anything, do you propose to do to make housing in Maryland more affordable?

Mark Shriver: I think it is a shame that people who work in Montgomery County can't afford to live here, and that includes teachers, police officers and firefighters.

That's why I have been fighting for a state low income housing tax credit and secured state funding for assisted living facilities that provides affordable housing for senior citizens.

Bob Levey: Nationally, the Democratic Party must win districts like Maryland's Eighth if it hopes to retain control of the House. Do you therefore feel as if you're carrying the weight of the party on your shoulders?

Mark Shriver: If I felt that way, it would be a heavy load indeed! But there is no question that this is a vitally important seat.
Last year, we saw the Senate sea change that stemmed from the party switch of Jim Jeffords. With his single vote for Democratic leadership, we now have an U.S. Senate that places a premium on people rather than the powerful special interests like the NRA.

But without a Democratic House of Representatives, we are all too often left to play defense -- blocking the most extreme plans of GOP leaders like Tom Delay and Dick Armey. If we want our progressive ideas and values to have a chance of improving the lives of working families, we must win back the House this fall.

I'm happy to shoulder my share.

Statehood for Washington, D.C.?: Does that mean a commuter tax for me? With full statehood rights, I can expect to be taxed by the state of New Columbia on the earnings I take home to Maryland and then taxed by Maryland again? Not exactly an exciting prospect.

Mark Shriver: Thanks for the chance to clarify my position on D.C. statehood. I don't favor a commuter tax. I do favor the federal government stepping up to the plate with adequate funding to support the District's needs.

Silver Spring, Md.: Del. Shriver, what guarantee do I as a resident of the 8th Congressional District have that you will devote yourself to the district's interests rather than using the position as a more nationally-oriented platform?

Mark Shriver: I was born and raised in Montgomery County, and itís where my wife Jeanne and I are raising our two children, Molly and Tommy. As parents, weíre trying to instill the same values in our kids that we grew up with Ė putting family first, treating people with kindness and compassion, and speaking up for those who canít always speak for themselves. I want to be a strong voice for these values, which I believe are shared by those who live in the 8th Congressional District.

My track record reflects my commitment to working locally, with community leaders. That's what I'll continue to do in Congress.

Bob Levey: Terry Lierman nearly defeated Connie Morella in 2000 even though he got snared in a scandal. Do you believe Lierman could have won if the scandal had not surfaced?

Mark Shriver: I think that Terry Lierman was a terrific candidate and I am proud that he has endorsed me.

Clearly, the negative press at the end of the campaign didn't help, but Connie Morella was and still is a formidable candidate and Terry did remarkably well for someone who had never sought elective office.

I was an enthusiastic supporter of Terry's and admired the positive, grass-roots campaign that he ran. We are running the exact same kind of race, thanks to so many of Terry's volunteers who are helping here.

Bethesda, Md.: What is your position on the Inter-County Connector?

Mark Shriver: I favor the construction of an environmentally-sound ICC. I also favor the inner Purple Line which should help get traffic off of I-495 and the other roads inside the beltway.

I have been a strong voice for increased funding for mass-transit and favor tax credits for telecommuting.

We need to make coordinated efforts to ease the traffic gridlock which is having such a negative impact on the quality of life in this region and on family time.

Bob Levey: Around the Washington area, Montgomery County is widely seen as Comfortable-ville. Yet the median income is below that of Fairfax County, and I believe foreign-born residents comprise about 15 percent of the population. Would Mark Shriver pay special attention to the less fortunate residents of the Eighth District? Or would he be the congressman from Leisure World and Potomac?

Mark Shriver: I have spent my life fighting for the frail, weak, and the youngest and oldest among us. I worked with poor kids in downtown Baltimore, grew up with people with developmental disabilities, and built a legislative record fighting for people of color, immigrants who don't speak English as their native language, and children everywhere.

I will represent every resident of the 8th Congressional District if I am fortunate enough to win the seat.

Takoma Park, Md.: Hello, thank you for taking our questions today.

Connie Morella is, of course, a Republican, despite her forays into more progressive issues/legislation. I will say that I have been very impressed with her work on women's issues, both domestic and international. I have supported her (though I am a democrat) because she has been such a leader on these issues.

So my question is, will women's issues-- family planning, basic education for girls, maternal and child health, trafficking-- be a strong part of your agenda if you are elected?

Mark Shriver: Women's issues are critically important and I will continue to fight for a women's right to choose; family planning funds; maternal and child heath funding and education for girls both here and abroad.

Bob Levey: Many thanks to our "Levey Live" guest, Del. Mark Shriver. Be sure to join us next week for a discussion of the student press in America. Our guest will be Mark Goodman, director of the Student Press Law Center. That discussion will begin at noon Eastern time on Tuesday, April 30.

© Copyright 2002 The Washington Post Company