LEONARDTOWN — Gov.-elect Larry Hogan thanked voters and veterans alike at a Veterans Day parade in southern Maryland on Tuesday as supporters expressed high hopes for his administration.
Hogan, a Republican, broke a sweat while briskly walking the parade route as he shook hands with cheering adults and high-fived schoolchildren. Hogan, who takes office in January, avoided commenting on work relating to putting a staff in place or policy goals. Instead, he reserved the day for veterans and enthusiastic supporters who said they wanted a change in the state capital.
Here are some of the top things Marylanders who attended the parade said they want to see Hogan accomplish after his surprise victory last week over Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown:
Hogan campaigned on rolling back a wide variety of taxes approved during term-limited Gov. Martin O’Malley’s tenure. Voters heard him, and they want to see him follow through with his message. “Taxes. That’s a big thing,” Joan Wathen, 70, of Mechanicsville, said, adding that the number of tax increases in recent years is more than she can remember at any other time. “I think it’s been higher and more stressful. Everything is being taxed.” Others cited Hogan’s goal of eliminating taxes on military pensions in a county that is home to Naval Air Station Patuxent River.
Other residents noted Hogan’s campaign pledge to do more to attract businesses to Maryland. He has proposed reducing the state’s corporate income tax from 8.25 percent to 6 percent, where it was before O’Malley and the General Assembly raised it in a 2007 special session. “I think that’s the big thing that’s happening. So many companies are moving out of state — excessive taxes and regulations,” said Herb Bailey, 80, of Lexington Park.
Some said they wanted a more frugal approach in Annapolis. “I am a fiscal conservative, and I’m concerned about our out-of-control Maryland spending, and I’m thinking that he can help us make some good decisions in the statehouse,” said Karen Lowry, who said she was glad her vote finally counted in electing a Republican in heavily Democratic Maryland.
People who lined the parade route said they want their next governor to be more attentive to all parts of a diverse state, instead of focusing mostly on the high-population areas of Baltimore city and Montgomery and Prince George’s County. Rusty Lowry said state government must pay more attention to rural areas. “There’s a lot of Maryland between the Eastern Shore and us and western Maryland, and we recognize the population density and where the interests lie, but just not feeling ignored, I think, is going to be a big deal,” he said.
Others said they want to see Hogan work effectively with the Democrat-controlled General Assembly. “I’m hoping that he’ll be able to deal with the Democratic Legislature, and I think he’s off to a great start,” said Ken McCall, an independent and former Democrat who said he voted for Hogan.
Hogan told a crowd gathered after the parade he would be a tireless advocate for veterans. Paul Walton, a 44-year-old Navy veteran, said he would like to see a greater push to raise awareness of available help. “I think right now there is too much of a disconnect which is driving more veterans away from help that’s actually really here in this state,” Walton, of Lexington Park, said.