The counties in Maryland’s District 1 sprawl awkwardly across the map from Ocean City to Smith Island to Carroll County. But there’s one big thing we all share—access to the Chesapeake Bay. Our counties collectively possess more of the Bay’s shoreline than any other district—something that’s given us a front seat to the surges of sediment, freshwater and debris that’s pulsed down the Susquehanna and through the Conowingo Dam all summer long.
It hasn’t been pretty. Any waterman, boater, swimmer or homeowner can tell you that. Our wetter than average spring and rainy summer—the wettest in a century— has sent record high flows down the Susquehanna, causing the floodgates at Conowingo Dam to be opened multiple times throughout the summer. Behind the dam was the largest collection of garbage and floating detritus in 20 years. Although Exelon removed 1800 tons of trash from behind the dam, the rest poured into the Chesapeake in a thick brown torrent, rich with all of Pennsylvania’s topsoil and fertilizer.
District 1 watched it happen. This summer, we feared for our oysters, our waterfront, our maritime traditions, our tourism as we drowned in Pennsylvania’s waste. Meanwhile, our troubles here in Bay country have failed to motivate our leadership to make a change. Our current representative, Andy Harris, has made a few token votes for the Bay’s environment while also voting scores of times to undermine national environmental standards. Clearly, Harris cares far more about currying favor with his party than helping the people he’s been elected to represent. He’s weak on the Chesapeake environment in a way none of his constituents living close to the Bay can ever afford to be.
Now, more than ever, it’s time for a change. We need a strong District 1 leader who is willing to work with the northern states in our watershed to address our imperiled Bay. A leader who believes in a healthy Chesapeake environment and economy—one who is willing to champion a comprehensive, commonsense, non-partisan approach that’s about what’s best for us here in the Bay’s communities.
I believe wholeheartedly that leader is Jesse Colvin. Colvin’s position is clear—if elected, when a bill crosses his desk in Washington, he will put the needs and values of his District first. Colvin has strongly committed to Chesapeake advocacy, and will work across the aisle to build critical relationships. Colvin’s approach is something we desperately need if a watershed-wide effort to maintain the Bay’s economic and recreational vitality is ever to be accomplished.
As a young person living on the Eastern Shore I wonder—will my children or grandchildren eat crabs harvested off of Rock Hall or swim in the Chester River? Or will that be gone—buried under endless sediment—in my lifetime? I want to look forward to a future where I see watermen’s workboats hauling their catch to the dock. I want to see sails cutting across the Chester River. I want to see kids cannonballing off the end of their dock, catching crabs with hand lines and knowing the Chesapeake Bay that I have always held so dear.
I want Jesse Colvin as my District 1 Representative.
Kate Livie is a Chesapeake writer, educator, Kent County native, and author of the 2015 book, Chesapeake Oysters, The Bay’s Foundation and Future.