Wes believes that no matter where you start in life, you deserve an equal opportunity to succeed – a job you can raise a family on, wages that reflect the dignity of work, and the chance to create wealth for you and your family. Right now in Maryland, as we continue to grapple with the COVID crisis, that’s simply not the case. Economic opportunity is readily available to some and dangerously absent to others. No one knows this better than Wes, who understands firsthand the struggles many Maryland families face and has made creating economic opportunity the central mission driving his candidacy for Governor.
Wes has led in sectors across the economy – in the private sector in the financial industry and as a small business owner, in the nonprofit industry as CEO of one of the largest nonprofits in the U.S., and in the public sector as an Army combat veteran and White House Fellow.Wes understands how the economy works and knows how to increase economic opportunities through creating economic growth.
Wes’ drive to create inclusive economic growth is both personal and professional. He grew up in communities that were chronically neglected and watched his single mother struggle to pay the family’s bills each month. And as the CEO of one of the nation’s largest non-profit organizations exclusively focused on ending poverty and creating economic advancement, Wes spearheaded the creation of Mobility LABs, a $25 million initiative driving economic mobility in urban, rural, and suburban parts of the country, including millions of dollars here in Maryland. Additionally, he fought for the expansion of the Child Tax Credit by the Biden Administration.
Based on his own family’s story, Wes knows there’s no single switch to simply create economic opportunity – it takes leading a focused effort that uses every economic lever in our state, and his vast leadership experience positions him to take Maryland to the next level.
Right now, Maryland is home to some of the best public schools in America and also some of the most underfunded. The quality of education a child receives shouldn’t depend on the zip code where that child lives or what that child’s parents do for a living – but, sadly, that’s exactly what’s happening in our state today. It’s been this way for far too long.
For Wes, the true value of a strong education is personal – it’s what allowed him to fulfill his potential. Wes comes from a family of educators, and he credits the teachers who spent time with him along the way, listened to him, and took an interest in his life with putting him on a path to success.
Here in Maryland, Wes was an advocate for The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, and testified in Annapolis for its passage. As Governor, Wes would protect the hard-fought gains of the Kirwan Commission and build on its strong foundation. Wes would ensure the proper implementation of its recommendations, which includes: extending tutoring programs, increased funding for digital devices critical to modern learning, raising teacher pay, additional access to pre-K for 3 and 4 year olds from low-income families, and more equitable funding for schools in neglected areas of our state.
Wes built a small business based in Baltimore devoted to improving college access and college completion. He knows there’s so much more than the cost of tuition – it is about the true cost of attendance and the need to encourage post-secondary educational models that foster each person’s talent and potential. That’s what Wes will do as Governor.
Wes will also build the infrastructure families need to access those opportunities, including closing the digital divide and increasing affordability and access to high speed broadband across the state, from urban to rural environments. Over 500,000 Marylanders still don’t have high speed internet at home, and Wes will prioritize changing those unacceptable realities.
When Wes was just three years old, he watched his father die in front of him from a virus that was completely treatable if he had just received the basic care that he deserved. That experience shaped Wes’ life and, specifically, his view that healthcare is a basic right that every Marylander deserves, period.
Maryland is home to some of the very best hospitals, medical research institutions and health care facilities in the entire world – and that’s something we should all be proud of. But at the same time, so many Marylanders can’t access those institutions or even afford very basic care – and that shouldn’t be the case.
The COVID-19 pandemic shows us that when people struggling with mental health issues and addiction are not able to access much needed in-person services, they suffer. Wes understands the need for Marylanders to have coverage that will include behavioral health, mental health, and substance disorders, not just physical health. And he will work to ensure the systems we have in place will provide effective and affordable services to those in need.
Wes will protect funding for our community health centers that offer critical health services like cancer screenings and birth control. Wes supports the right to choose, and as Governor, he will fight to protect it.
Wes understands the importance of transportation and its link to economic mobility. He believes there needs to be a reimagination of what the Red Line Plus would look like. He believes that we need to have a focus on the completion of the Purple Line. He believes that we need to have a comprehensive vision for how Marylanders are moving in the 21st century with a focus on mass transit. And with the current push for more public-private partnerships to alleviate the region’s traffic concerns, he believes that we need to manage those projects effectively.
All these factors require a forward-thinking leader who understands complex systems and can execute a plan. Wes has that experience, from his time leading soldiers and systems as a captain in the Army’s elite 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan, working in corporate finance, starting a small business in Maryland, and being the CEO of one of the largest nonprofits in the country. With those skills and networks, he will be able to navigate Maryland into the future of transportation. Ensuring we have systems to move people around Maryland – and to other parts of our region – is an important piece to making sure our residents can seize economic opportunities.
Civil Rights and Social Justice
When Wes talks about equity and social justice, he is not simply reacting to the politics of the moment – he is speaking to his lived realities. Wes knows that we will never achieve our potential – as individuals or as a state – until equity is achieved.
Wes applauded the Maryland legislature last year for passing some of the nation’s most comprehensive police accountability legislation, and we must continue to build on that progress and ensure it is executed effectively.
That means continuing the march toward equity in our criminal justice system by supporting policies that promote redemption and second chances and reforming our prison systems. Wes will legalize cannabis, expunge the records of anyone convicted of simple possession, and prioritize equitable access to this emerging industry.
But, true equity and social justice extends far beyond criminal justice. It means equity in housing. It means equity in access to education and health care. It means environmental justice. It means fixing procurement policies and increasing liquidity for our MBEs to increase job growth. It means supporting our HBCUs and committing to eliminating the wealth gap. And Wes doesn’t just talk about these things as priorities, he has already led on them. Wes helped launch Ninety-To-Zero, an initiative that brought leading CEOs and Executive Directors across all pillars of the nation’s economy to provide a roadmap for companies and organizations to act as an engine for continued collaborative learning to end the racial wealth gap.
The climate crisis is here. In Maryland, we don’t just cherish our environment, we also count on it as an economic driver of the state. From the Eastern Shore, through Ellicott City, to Western Maryland, we’ve seen the effects of climate change up close, and we must be serious about the threat it can pose to our way of life.
We need a leader who will get serious about climate change and bring Maryland into the future of clean energy. We can do this by creating thousands of clean energy jobs, investing in clean energy infrastructure, reducing Maryland’s energy dependence as well as our carbon emissions, and holding bad actors and corporations accountable.
Our diverse landscape is full of wonderful natural areas, from the mountain ranges in Western Maryland to the coastlines of the lower shore. But our greatest natural resource is the Chesapeake Bay. We have so many great organizations working to protect it. Wes will use his experience as CEO of a major nonprofit to bring these groups together and ensure their success so that Marylanders can continue to live, work, and play in and around this national treasure.
Our State Parks are also treasures in Maryland. Throughout the COVID pandemic, our State Parks provided such a variety of activities to Marylanders and Wes will invest in these areas to ensure all the natural resources of our state are accessible for generations to come.