2014 is an election year in Maryland, and Examiner.com is sitting down with some of the candidates for key races so that the voters will be able to make informed decisions. The next in this series is a phone interview with congressional candidate George Gluck, the Green Party nominee for Maryland’s Sixth District.
Gluck has a 45 year career in information technology sciences, in both government and private industry. He is an expert in improving effectiveness and operating efficiency of government agencies, such as the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, Medicare’s financial systems, and the General Services Administration information systems. He has been a member of the Green Party for 15 years. He is highly committed to supporting environmental concerns. He and his wife both drive Priuses and are eagerly awaiting fully electric cars. Their home includes solar panels and solar heating elements.
We spoke with Gluck in a phone interview regarding his run for United States Congress.
Why are you running for office?
I’m 67 so this is not going to be a career. I’m running for future generations, my grandkids and their cohort. I’d like them to live in a country that’s more like the one I grew up in. Unfortunately, that’s not the case right now.
What are your qualifications?
I think I have the qualifications that the founding fathers wanted. We need to have folks serving who are not going to make it a career. They wanted people who were going to serve their country for a few years and then go back to what they were doing originally. I’ve got a couple of degrees in math and a minor in physics. I’m good at analysis, good at finding problems. My intention when I’m in is to read as much legislation as I can, some are thousands of pages. I read technology documents and redline them to try to anticipate what’s wrong with them. I think that will serve me well in Congress.
Third party candidates have a reputation for being spoilers for the two major parties. Do you agree with this assessment?
Absolutely not. We have a local paper, The Gazette. There’s a fellow there that wrote a column, he certainly is a conservative, right after we had the primaries a few weeks ago. I wrote a response, but they didn’t publish it. I put it on their website, you can find it in the comment section of the article here. Basically, he was talking about the fact that very few people come out to primaries. I didn’t agree with his suggestions. To get people out to the polls to vote we need to implement instant runoff voting. They aren’t close to 50 percent in the Democrat primary, and the Democrat primary is the election more than the real election here, it’s just a rubber stamp in this area. We have one out of eight that are Republicans in the House of Representatives, although one quarter of the registered voters in Maryland are registered Republican. Almost half of the folks that voted, I think 48 percent, voted for someone other than Brown, who won the election. Only 17 percent of registered Democrats voted to begin with. My wife is a registered Democrat and she still blames me for Gore’s loss in 2000, but many of the folks who voted for Nader wouldn’t have voted at all if he hadn’t been running down there, those folks didn’t harm Al Gore.
I ran two years ago and our election map looked different when I had to make the choice. We have two third parties in Maryland, the Libertarian and the Green, and every four years we turn in signatures to remain recognized by the State Board of Elections. We needed 10,000 to get in there, I think we handed in 15,000 and the Libertarians had 12,000. They threw out 9,000 of ours and 5,000 of theirs. If you had a name on their like “John Fitzgerald Kennedy” instead of “John Kennedy,” even if the addresses and birthdates matched, they would throw them out. The state takes address changes and uses them in their databases, but eliminates the petition line if the names do not match exactly. It’s good enough for their purposes but not ours? That’s the height of hypocrisy. One of the Libertarians is an attorney and took it on pro bono. They won in the district and the state board of elections, it’s getting appealed to the state Supreme Court. They sent emails to put everything up quickly in case we win. If the Supreme Court rules against it I guess we’ll have a loss. They gerrymandered the districts, they changed the districts since the last time I ran. At least I get to vote for myself this time. The governor uses a different map than the legislature uses, it wasn’t until weeks later when I found that out. Maryland isn’t even the worst, there are states that are far worse.
Why do you think that you have a better chance than past third party candidates?
Last time I ran there was a local paper that wrote a piece about more and more folks registering as unaffiliated. It’s even more so two years later. More and more folks are disappointed with the two major parties. I think as we go on more and more will register and even vote. Can I win this time? In all honesty I don’t think so. If the economy goes south again, and I think it will because we haven’t fixed the problems that almost caused a recession in 2007 and 2008. If not it’ll definitely happen before the next election. I intend to run again. I asked for their endorsement, I told them “someday you will endorse me or someone like me.” I think it’s going to happen unless the Democrat party moves left again, and they won’t do that unless the Republican party moves left again, back toward the center.
I’ve run three times now, this is the fourth, I’m starting to have name recognition in this area. The last time the paper said they’d do an article, but they backed out. This district is so gerrymandered, it runs fifty miles from Pennsylvania to D.C. I ran across it, ending the run with my family, three generations of us running together. The paper did not do the article they said they would, but they did take a picture with a large caption, that gave me twice as many people as I would have normally, just because they printed that picture. As time goes on, I keep running and people understand what third parties are all about.
I’m not a politician, I’m just a regular guy. I can do a great job, a better job than 80 percent of the guys there now. I’ll run once or twice more if I can retain my health. It will happen somewhere, I suspect if it doesn’t happen in Maryland it’ll happen in California, maybe San Francisco. We’re the only major western country that doesn’t have a Green Party representative in the legislature. I suspect a libertarian will run for president this year, maybe even win the Republican nomination.
Same-sex marriage appears to be heading toward legalization in most states. What is your stance on this issue?
I think it’s a civil rights issue and I think folks should be able to marry anybody they love. It doesn’t harm anybody else certainly. My wife and I have gay friends and I don’t see any reason why they can’t marry.
If elected, will you take any action to ensure that the LGBTQ community will gain equal rights?
Sure, I’d be happy to vote for legislation or put some legislation forward to do that.
What is your opinion on oil fracking?
It seems to me, as happens in many other cases, that the companies that are doing this are not paying for the external costs that are generated when they do this. It looks to me like it’s harming local drinking water. We don’t know what chemicals they’re using, they refuse to tell us. They’re not paying for the harm they’re doing, aside from paying a carbon tax. This wouldn’t be worth their while if they were forced to pay for the harm. We need to leave as much carbon sequestered underground as we can, I’d prefer to see it there and not do fracking at all.
Do you support an increase in alternative forms of energy, including green energy such as solar and wind?
Yes. My wife and I have large solar panels on our roof that heat our water, some for electricity. Unfortunately they are not large enough to generate all of our electricity. We both drive Priuses, I had ordered an electric car that came last February, 2013. We drive our cars, mine has 177,000 miles on it and it’s still getting over 40 miles per gallon. It’s still running well, so I had to let someone else take the Leaf. Her Prius gets about 50 miles per gallon. I know there are some states, even Texas, a big oil state, are getting electricity generated by wind. We’ll have some turbines off the coast of Maryland. The faster we do this and keep carbon in the ground the better off we’ll be. It’s a shame that we’re letting countries like China beat us. Denmark took the production of the turbines. We should have been doing that all along.
Do you support the legalization of marijuana? Do you have any any lasting concerns about the regulation or safety of marijuana?
Bill Clinton once said that he smoked but didn’t inhale. Years ago my wife and I went to a concert and people were smoking the cigarettes, and these weren’t regular cigarettes, so I joked that I inhaled but never smoked. I have no problem with marijuana. What I’ve read and seen is that it’s a better choice than alcohol. As long as we don’t let minors have it, and prosecute people who sell to minors, don’t allow people to drive under the influence. If they want to use it at home or a friend’s house that’s fine. I know it helps cancer patients.
What is your opinion on gun rights?
I’ve heard some very good constitutional arguments that relate gun rights to a well regulated militia. I understand that some people are hard nosed and say that unless you’re in a militia you shouldn’t have those guns. It’s not necessary to take away the guns, people have them for sporting and hunting, and I hope they eat what they kill. I think we should take up the Australian example and try to buy back as many guns as possible. We should probably outlaw those that are military arms, those that allow multiple shots. Maybe keep that down to five or something similar. My preference is not to allow people to carry unless they have a very good reason and a permit. The Australian model is that everyone has it registered by a serial ID number, like we do with cars. It licenses the weapons and insures it in case there is an accident.
What action, if any, will take with regard to make the Affordable Care Act?
I understand why it’s better than what we had before. People will be covered except in the states that denied the Medicare expansion. We’d have 7-8 million more covered. Pre existing conditions, keeping kids on under 26 this is all good. But the reason it passed is that it’s a boon to private insurance. We have to decide what we pay for in common. Defense department, army, fire department, teachers, polices, and definitely roads, these things are paid for in common. Some locally, some state, some federal, some all three. To me, this is one the areas that belongs to the commons. We should have everybody covered, as every other western country does. Countries like France have much better results than we have, I think we’re 37th or somewhere down there. We pay twice as much and they get better results. We have to get together and pay for it. The idea is to get a big group and distribute the risk. There is no bigger group than all of us. It makes sense to have all of us covered by all of us. Vermont is going to cover everybody in their state. Universal coverage is on the way, I suspect many other states will want to do the same. We have to resist the insurance company lobbyists, but I think it’s going to be done.
Do you support school choice in the form of vouchers?
About five years ago I met Michael Bloomberg. I apologized to him. He asked why I was apologizing, so I told him I grew up in Brooklyn. I said that I had gotten the greatest education anybody could get in the world. I went to Brooklyn Community College. This is the American Dream. My parents came here hoping I would do better than they had, and I have. I’m not a millionaire, but I got this great education and it literally cost me nothing. I paid 10 or 12 dollars in city income taxes, I got an incredible education for 12 dollars. He absolved me.
I have a great deal of faith in our public school system. My wife’s a retired middle school math teacher, my daughter teaches middle school math now. It started with me because of sequestration and the government shutting down. I lost my job and went back to subbing for math and science. I still have a great deal of faith in what we can and what our schools can accomplish. I’m not big on vouchers. I think they’re going to schools that don’t care about education. It’s a matter of ingratiating themselves and taking money off the top. Even charter schools are no better than public schools, and I’d prefer to that that money go to public schools rather than private.
Do you support an increase in the minimum wage?
Yeah, and in fact I’ll go a little further and say that I agree with the great Republican Teddy Roosevelt and say I support not a minimum wage but a living wage. We are paying for the Wal-mart workers because they won’t be getting much in wages. They make sure they are at 30 hours or less so they don’t have to give them benefits. As a result we are paying for their health care and food stamps. CostCo is in the same business and paying a living wage and they’re doing quite well.
I wear a couple of wristbands that remind me of why I’m running. One my grandkids made. The other one is from Starbuck’s. They were selling them for five dollars each when the banks weren’t lending to small businesses. I put it on again when they made the decision to start paying for college. I ask the baristas if they’re taking advantage of that, and many were. I want to support them again. So a raise in the minimum wage? Absolutely. But also a work wage, covering vacation every year, medical costs, being able to retire, things like that without having to depend on anybody, including the government.
How would you handle the current immigration situation?
I’m an immigrant myself. My parents came here and it was a little different than it is now. The question is, how did we get here on this issue? In my reading I saw that all of the presidents up until President Reagan stopped enforcing the law. They put employers in jail who knowingly employed undocumented workers. We stopped doing that in the 80s, we shouldn’t be surprised. They’re being invited in. They are working extra hours for less pay, they are forced to pay for things from the company stores. We have the eVerify system that works very well. Unless we start enforcing the law and prosecuting employers who knowingly employ undocumented workers it’s not going to do any good. They should be made to use eVerify. We wouldn’t have that reason to run across the border because nobody will be giving jobs if they know they are going to jail.
Companies claim that we need more H1B visas to bring more tech people here. We don’t have that talent here. It’s not even a matter of getting the talent, they just don’t want to pay. We once had the greatest middle class ever seen and over the last 40 years we’ve decimated it. I don’t understand what these executives expect to do with all of that money. There was a rich German who was asked why he gave so much of his money away. He said he didn’t want to be a rich man in a poor country. I wish more of our executives felt the same way
Congressman Gutierrez had a plan to have immigrants, over several years, make them citizens. They would gradually prove themselves. If they’re already here they're already helping the economy, but they’re also helping their bosses become rich. Even they should become citizens. When there are a lack of jobs there is a net outgo. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I like to think those who have made a life here would stay if they become citizens. I’m not trying to attract people from overseas unless we absolutely need them.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
One other thing on education. If you’re capable of going to college you should go for free. We have 1.2 trillion dollars in student debt. What’s more is we don’t have the jobs from that. As long as there are kids capable of getting into school, I think the ratio in California before Governor Reagan was 80 percent covered by the government and 20 percent by the student. My wife and I both paid 50 dollars for tuition, plus it included books. We had to have a 93 average in high school to get in. They have to prove themselves. Assuming that to be true, I’d like to see more people, especially the underprivileged, get a free ride.