Pictured: Erin-Ruth Oxford de Natividad, Patrick Hunt, Judy Carbone
Oakland, MD – A full Slate of Democratic Candidates for Garrett County Commissioners was announced on Friday, February 18. Three Garrett County residents filed at the Garrett County Board of Elections as candidates for the Board of County Commissioners. The candidates include Judy Carbone, Commissioner District 1; Patrick Hunt, Commissioner District 2; and Erin-Ruth Oxford de Natividad, Commissioner District 3. November’s General Election for County Commissioners will offer up Democratic challengers for all three districts.
“It’s time for a change,” agree all three candidates, who believe that it is important to have every voice represented in local county government. They also believe that with one party having 100% representation on the County Commission for the past 30 years, our community needs new ideas and collaborations to identify and tackle the complex problems facing Garrett County. True democracy and a healthy democratic republic, according to the candidates, need elections in which members of more than one party are running in the General Election.
In their campaigns, the Democratic County Commissioner candidates intend to discuss the community’s most pressing issues including the economy, affordable housing, county-wide broadband, and education.
The County Economic Development Strategic Plan has not been updated since 2011, according to Hunt. “For the past several decades Garrett County has been marketed as a low-wage haven when trying to attract commerce and industry. The result of such efforts is obvious when we look at household income in Garrett County."
In 2018, 33% of the households in Garrett County had less than $35,000 in annual income and 50.4% of the households earned less than $50,000, according to Hunt. "The policies pursued by our County Commissioners have endorsed this low-wage approach as they have devoted precious resources to the development of industrial parks that sit underutilized or nearly empty. At a time when Garrett County should have been promoting 21st-century solutions like highspeed internet for all and remote worksites, previous commissioner boards were looking backward towards old models that do not address the rapidly changing world of e-commerce and digital solutions.”
Carbone, Hunt, and Natividad note that Democrats at the federal level have addressed the economic disruption caused by the COVID pandemic by passing legislation that is distributing millions of tax dollars through our county and municipal leaders.
“It is critical that we use these funds to structure our local economy in a more equitable fashion that is better prepared to address the future," Hunt continues. "About half of us here in the county do okay or do very well but the other half of us work just as hard but are stuck in a system that does not adequately reward our efforts. If we want to keep our kids in the County, improve our standard of living, and preserve the natural beauty of our surroundings we must begin to do things differently.”
The candidates advocate that to improve the local economy, the current Garrett County Economic Development Strategic Plan must be updated at a minimum of every five years. Additionally, they state that the County must be proactive in creating a workforce trained and qualified to attract new businesses, supporting small farms and new businesses by advancing sustainable farming and green technologies, investing in agricultural storage, transportation, and processing facilities (e.g., hemp processing facility), locating subsidized healthcare insurance for small businesses and agricultural employers, increasing the household income of families living in poverty and without the income needed for affordable housing, and supporting union organizing efforts so that both workers and businesses can benefit through collective bargaining.
Increasing economic health and individual economic security require finding solutions to the lack of available and affordable housing," says Natividad. “Real estate values and sales around Deep Creek Lake have soared. Simultaneously, the inventory of affordable homes for working families with average incomes has dwindled. The stability of our communities is at risk. We simply will not build stronger neighborhoods if teachers, public safety officers, medical workers, construction workers, and others cannot afford to live where they work. While this problem has become more acute during the pandemic, it is a longstanding problem that the Board of County Commissioners has failed to properly address.”
The trio advocate for creating a Garrett County Housing Authority, re-establishing the first-time home buyer’s subsidy, developing a Housing Trust Fund, using empty industrial business parks as workforce housing sites, providing funds or tax breaks to upgrade existing rental housing, and increasing the real estate transfer tax by 1 percentage point on new homes over $500,000 and using the proceeds to assist first-time homebuyers.
Carbone says that she is proud of local Democrats. “Thanks to their dedication and hard work, for the first time in at least 40 years, Garrett County residents will have contested elections in the 2022 elections for County Commissioner, State Delegate, and State Senator," said Carbone. "That means voters in our community will have a choice in the General Election. That’s true democracy, making a choice from more than one candidate for a particular elected position. With that choice, we as voters can hold incumbents accountable and engage in robust discussions on the goals, values, and accomplishments of our elected officials.”
Judy Carbone, of Swanton (CD-1), has been a member of the Garrett County Democratic Central Committee since 2019 and recently stepped down as its Chair to run for office. A proud resident of Garrett County for nearly thirty years, Judy has held numerous positions throughout her career focusing on helping others including Field Interviewer on the Maryland COVID Contact Tracing Project; Volunteer Coordinator at HART for Animals; Director of Academic Advising and Success and Career Services Coordinator at Garrett College; and in student services administration at George Mason University, the University of Maryland at College Park, and Maryville University of Saint Louis.
Highlights of Carbone’s extensive community involvement include serving as a trained moderator for Braver Angels and being a graduate of Leadership Garrett County (2017) and Emerge Maryland (2021). Carbone also serves as President of the AAUW-Garrett Branch, the only local women’s equity organization. In 2021, Judy was inducted into the Garrett County Women’s Hall of Fame, and in 2019, she was recognized as AAUW-Maryland's Woman of Distinction and one of The Daily Record’s Maryland Top 100 Women. She is the Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party Rural Communities Committee and ran for County Commissioner in 2018. Carbone has also been on several local Boards of Directors including Garrett Lakes Arts Festival and Mountain Laurel Medical Center. Carbone and her husband Ken share their home with two dogs who have their humans wrapped around their little paws.
Says Carbone, “I am very excited to run in 2022 for Garrett County Commissioner. If elected, I will commit to working vigorously on, among other priorities, amplifying the voices of all Garrett County voters and increasing engagement and transparency with the County Commissioners. The residents of Commissioner District 1 need representation by someone who will actively, assertively, and effectively advocate for the best interests of all Garrett Countians…and not just simply go along with the other two Commissioners. It’s time for a change!”
Patrick Hunt, of Friendsville (CD-2), has been an active member of the Garrett County Democratic Central Committee, serving as its Vice-Chair, and the Garrett County Democratic Club, serving as Membership Chair, for many years. In 2020, Hunt was the first Garrett Countian to serve as a Maryland Elector in the Electoral College since 1897.
Hunt worked as a Research Economist with the Communications Workers of America for 24 years; he did similar work for the United Mine Workers of America, the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Patrick served as Campaign Manager for a Congressional campaign in Pennsylvania, another in Michigan, and for a Union leadership campaign in West Virginia. Additionally, he has served in various Union leadership positions for the Newspaper Guild, the Congressional Research Employees Association, and the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO. Hunt served in the United States Army, 101st Airborne Division, in Vietnam. Hunt is the father of 4 children and the grandfather of 4.
Hunt states, “There are many good and competent public administrators and employees here in Garrett County – what we lack is forward-looking leadership. It’s time for a change.”
Erin-Ruth Oxford de Natividad, of Oakland (CD-3), is a native of Garrett County and a graduate of Southern Garrett High School. Since 2012, Natividad has been a local small business owner and successfully contributed to the wedding/events industry with clients that include both local residents and visitors to Garrett County. With her husband, she owns NatOx Nuptials, Inc., and Sound Fusion Entertainment. She believes that with so many in Garrett County looking for financial independence, it is imperative to enhance the support and training needed to be a successful entrepreneur.
Natividad is a member of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 71 and the Garrett County Commission for Women and volunteers as a leader with the Oakland Girl Scout Troop #55004. She stays educated and up-to-date on many community issues, particularly those related to women, youth, and under-represented citizens in the local community. Natividad is a member of the Garrett County Democratic Central Committee and serves as the President of the Garrett County Democratic Club. She resides in Oakland with her husband, Miguel, and their children.
Natividad says, "respecting the unique needs, perspectives and potential for all Garrett County citizens are pivotal to creating a more diverse and inclusive community for people to live, work and visit. It’s time for a change."
For more information or to volunteer with the Garrett County Democrats, please go to www.gcdems.com. Information on the candidates can be found on their respective Facebook pages.