This story was updated at 7:40 p.m. Feb. 6, 2022, to reflect Del. Anne Kaiser’s comment that she is running for re-election.
An Air Force veteran is running for the House of Delegates in District 14.
Tom Smith, 37, is a Democrat who was a combat medic in Afghanistan and Iraq. He said in a brief interview Tuesday that he has lived in District 14 since 2018.
Smith currently lives in Burtonsville.
The Maryland General Assembly recently approved a new map for state delegate and Senate districts. If a state appellate court upholds the maps, then District 14 would stretch from Burtonsville, along the eastern edge of the county through Olney, Laytonsville and part of Damascus.
Smith, a married father who is fostering two elementary school boys, said he’s seen gaps in funding and access in the state’s foster care and child care systems. He’s also interested in reforming the juvenile justice system and supporting social workers, both of which have been severely affected during the coronavirus pandemic, he said.
All three District 14 incumbents — Eric Luedtke, Anne Kaiser and Pam Queen — have filed to seek another term.
After telling Bethesda Beat last month that she was still deciding whether to run for re-election, Kaiser wrote in a text message on Sunday evening that she is running again.
Joshua Dowling, a Montgomery County Public Schools teacher, is also running in District 14.
All five candidates are Democrats. No Republicans have filed to run.
The District 14 Senate seat also is contested. Incumbent Craig Zucker and challenger Collins Odongo are both running in the Democratic primary.
To represent District 14, Smith said, it’s important to support residents who work in the professional service sector — ranging from construction to restaurants. Those workers have often dealt “with the broadest burden” during the pandemic, Smith added.
Smith is also interested in working to help veterans, and worked on the For Country Caucus — a coalition of federal lawmakers focused on helping veterans — in attempting to increase access to health care.
He said he’s also been closely involved in helping refugees, including the recent influx of Afghan refugees since the United States’ withdrawal.
On the battlefield in the Middle East, Smith said, he learned that the best leaders often look at how to help others during difficult situations, rather than trying to accomplish personal goals. He said that’s how he will campaign, calling and talking to thousands of residents across the district.
“It’s the type of leadership I try and hope to embody, and that’s why our focus is the courage to care. … Get on the frontlines and talk to people in need, and they’ll tell you what you need to know,” Smith said.
The filing deadline for this year’s elections is Feb. 22. The primary election is scheduled for June 28, and the general election is set for Nov. 8.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org