Op-Ed: Country Before Party by Richard Marks


One day in 2010, I answered a knock on my office door and greeted a gentleman who introduced himself, ‘Hi, I’m Andy Harris and I’m running for Congress’. His visit was not scheduled and, customarily, strangers don’t stop by my office, the “igloo” on Rt 50, unless they need directions or are just curious how a geodesic dome landed in Trappe. My day was flexible so, despite the lack of an appointment, I welcomed Mr. Harris and we talked. Much of the conversation is a blur now, but I recall him saying he would work on behalf of small businesses. I also remember thinking, after asking him some questions, that he really did not have an understanding or experience with businesses operations. Nonetheless, he seemed eager so, after talking for awhile,

I offered him the opportunity to visit our facility and learn a bit about manufacturing frozen vegetables. For whatever reason, he chose not to the tour that day and I never heard from him again.

Recently, there was a front page story in the local paper of Congressman Harris visiting a company in Cambridge which brought back memories of his visit to my company. My first thought was, “Andy, where have you been the past eight years?” “Absent” was the answer in my mind. Rarely, if ever have I seen or encountered our representative here on the eastern shore since elected. Which is not to say I am in favor of just showing up and glad handing, but what about showing up and listening to and learning from your constituents? Let me also say it is one thing to be detached from your constituents and not have made any significant contributions over the last eight years, but to now send out flyers purporting to significant accomplishments not achieved is deceiving. Just this past week I received one that reads, “Andy Harris fights to protect our great treasure”. It’s just not true. Time after time he has voted against legislation that would protect our waterways and and voted for dismantling protections.

The number of registered independents has grown as moderates from both parties have been marginalized by the far right and the far left. As a registered Independent for the past 50 years who votes for the person and not the party, I’ve tried to keep an open and curious mind and travel to the beat of my own drum. In this upcoming election I will exercise my privilege in this great country and vote for Jesse Colvin to represent our district. I also plan to support Larry Hogan, Addie Eckardt and Johny Mautz, who show up, stand up and earn our votes. I may not agree with every position they take, but know them as individuals who truly work to better our communities by bringing people together in all of our best interests.

Richard Marks is Chairman and CEO of Arbre Group Holding Corp., a frozen fruit and vegetable manufacturing company with two locations on Maryland’s Eastern Shore where he has resided for the past 42 years. He served as President of the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the Avalon Foundation and currently serves on the board of Talbot Mentors, Take The Helm and the TCPS Education and Endowment Funds. He, along with his wife Amy Haines, are the founders and directors of Dock Street Foundation, a personal foundation supporting non-profits serving Maryland’s Mid-Shore.

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