The College Democrats at Hopkins (HopDems) hosted 2022 Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ashwani Jain on April 7 to discuss his campaign for the governor’s seat.
Jain, the son of Indian immigrants, would serve as the nation’s first millennial governor and Maryland’s first governor of color if elected.
At the event, he stressed the importance of building a diverse team.
“If I win the ticket, I am making sure there is a woman as my lieutenant governor,” he said. “I am making sure the agency department heads that I hire reflect the demographic as well as the geographic diversity of the state because representation matters.”
Jain previously worked as a political appointee for former President Barack Obama and ran for the Montgomery County Council in 2018.
Sylvana Schaffer, co-president of HopDems, explained in an email to The News-Letter how the organization’s leaders planned the event.
“Jain made an active effort to connect with students in our club,” she wrote. “His outreach efforts did not surprise me, since he is explicitly running to be ‘the nation’s first millennial governor’ and our generations share many of the same concerns around issues such as climate change or education.”
Jain outlined his plan to resolve problems in Maryland, which he hopes will make a lasting impact.
“When I talk about all of these issues, I do so in the context of these relief, recovery, reform agendas,” he said. “This is how we can make sure we don’t have the same problems over and over again.”
In an interview with The News-Letter, Jain reflected on how his personal experiences influence his political priorities, such as the need to revitalize Maryland public schools.
“I attended elementary school in Montgomery County, and even though it was Title 1, there was mold on the ceiling. I had great educators who didn’t have the support they needed. We need to reprioritize the funding,” he said. “It’s not just building more schools, but making sure schools have equitable funding.”
Jain also condemned the school-to-prison pipeline.
“Our schools should not feel like prisons, and this starts with eliminating school officer programs,” he said. “We should instead focus on mental health and the well-being of students.”
Jain’s platform also focuses on criminal justice reforms; some of the policies he supports are treating drug abuse as a public health crisis as opposed to a criminal offense, legalizing marijuana, banning chokeholds and ending cash bail.
Ryan Ebrahimy, co-president of HopDems, emphasized the importance of student political engagement in an email to The News-Letter.
“The 2022 election cycle is still a good ways away, but it's very important for students to learn from and engage with candidates head-on to see what policy proposals each bring to the table,” he wrote.
Junior Sebastian Llaca compared Jain to Maryland’s current governor, Larry Hogan. He cited Hogan’s failure to provide Baltimore with an updated transit system, cancelling the light rail project that would have connected East and West Baltimore by rail.
“[Hogan’s] replacement for that is the BaltimoreLink, which was ostensibly going to streamline the bus system in Baltimore. This is a poor excuse of what could have been,” he said. “It was very refreshing to hear that the candidate would change that policy if he were to be elected.”
Llaca believes Jain is highly electable.
“His motivations are in the right place. As long as he finds an effective way to get his message out, he has a very good chance of winning,” he said.
Chris H. Park, the vice president of HopDems, is a News & Features Editor for The News-Letter. He did not contribute reporting, writing or editing to this article.