The following is the text of Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan's gubernatorial announcement speech, given today in Rockville, Maryland.
I've never seen Van Fleet Court look quite the way it is today.
Let me start by thanking our hostess for this gathering of friends and family, my mother, Ellie Duncan who inspired me from a young age to think bigger, pursue my dreams and never, ever vote Republican.
Wish my father were here with us today, but I know he is looking down with a smile because this gathering would remind him of a typical Duncan family get together-very large and very loud.
I also want to thank my best friend, the love of my life - my beautiful wife Barbara, the mother of our five wonderful children. Michael and John are away at school - but here with us today is Andrew, Thomas and Conor.
Some of my twelve brothers and sisters, thirty eight nieces and nephews and other assorted Duncan family members are here and I want to acknowledge them and say thank you for your love and for your support over all these years.
Want to express my sincere appreciation to all of the elected officials who are here today. It means so much to have you here on the kickoff of what promises to be a fantastic campaign, and I can't thank you enough for your support.
Let me thank Reverend Pearl Selby for emceeing. We've been through a lot of struggles together to help hardworking people get decent housing and I truly appreciate you being here today.
I've never claimed it was a secret, but let's make it official. I'm Doug Duncan and I'm running for Governor of Maryland.
I'm making it official in front of the house I grew up in, because this is where it all started - with my parents, and my family.
My father was a World War II veteran and career civil servant, taught children from war-torn countries to speak English. My mother was a community activist. They moved to Maryland to raise our family, which ended up being a voting precinct all its own! They raised thirteen children in a four bedroom house. Sometimes a couch doubled as a bed, but you know what? It sure made a great home.
And it was here in Rockville that I got my first political experience - not on the city council, not as Mayor, but as a young child following my mother as she handed out fliers for the Democratic Party.
My mother taught me that religious service is the highest calling, and public service the next. My faith is a very important part of who I am, but it was public service that I chose.
As a young father living in Rockville, I first ran for the city council. Then I ran for Mayor. To me, public service is about getting results; about making a difference. As I learned growing up with twelve brothers and sisters, individual interests are best served by working toward the common good. And it's the role of leaders in public service to guide us on that path.
When I first ran for County Executive, I wasn't the frontrunner - I wasn't even the party favorite. Our County was a great place to live and raise a family, but it was on the threshold of enormous change and to me, the question was simple: how do we adapt to that change, to get where we want to go?
And I had a vision for the County: revitalize the urban blight of Silver Spring; diversify our economy away from being totally dependent on the federal government, and most importantly, keep our schools some of the best in the Country even as our student body was growing more economically and ethnically diverse.
It was a big ambition, but my challenge to Montgomery County was straightforward: we couldn't coast on our past success, we had to think bigger.
Schools are the key. If you have good schools, good jobs will come. The innovation economy - of biotechnology, new energy technology, cutting edge research into the future - isn't going to locate in an area where the schools are bad, and the infrastructure can't support business.
So you invest in schools, and businesses will invest in your community. The good jobs come.
Good jobs mean a broader tax base, so you can provide more services and hold the line on taxes. And the broader tax base gives you the money to invest in government's obligations to its citizens - protecting their health, safety and welfare.
That was our strategy - and while it hasn't all been perfect, I look with pride at what the people of Montgomery County have accomplished during my eleven years in office.
For the past six years, we've had a majority minority school district, and our schools are among the best in the nation. We took on urban blight in Silver Spring, and today it's a community that is vibrant, and a national model for public-private partnerships. Our job base has diversified, we led the State in job creation and we've held the line on taxes.
With your help, we've achieved what we've set out to do. We've accomplished our goals.
I look at our state today and I see the same enormous potential - the best schools, quality jobs and a commitment to the environment that is second to none.
But I look at our Governor and I see a single-minded focus on slots, and a public policy that is better described as public relations.
Maryland, it's time to think bigger for our state and our people.
Now, many of you might not expect me to say this, but I do have some pretty big ambitions. But they're not for me, they're for the people our great state. I'm not interested in being seen as a national leader - I want our state to be a national leader. I'm not interested in being on stage - I want to put our State on the national stage.
Together, we have the potential to be leaders - on education, on the jobs of tomorrow, on defining our future. But I can't accomplish it alone - we can, working together.
It takes commitment, it takes hard work, and it takes leadership that sets goals and then meets them.
Rhetoric is not a plan. Optimism alone is not a strategy. And you have to do more than just believe things will turn out okay.
That's why, in this campaign, I will be specific about where I think this state needs to go and how we will get there.
If Maryland wants lower crime, better jobs and a better quality of life, the best thing we can do - the most long-lasting thing we can do - is to improve our schools. That is why I will make my first major policy announcement of this campaign a proposal to improve our schools - in every part of the state.
I will unveil this comprehensive plan shortly, but there are three key elements I want to discuss today: an education first approach to the state budget, making college education affordable for more hard-working students in our state, and building a genuine public-private partnership to increase parental involvement in our schools.
What is an 'education first' budget? It's simple: With me as Governor, education gets funded first. Period. If education is our priority, then the state's budget must be a statement of our priorities. It is what I have done as County Executive and what I will do as Governor. Let's make our state the national leader on education.
Second, let's make college accessible and affordable to every student in this state who is willing to work hard and play by the rules. We know that even two years of college can almost double a student's lifetime income.
The jobs of today and tomorrow increasingly require a college education. But the costs of higher education have skyrocketed, making it too difficult for too many families. And we know that where college isn't seen as a realistic choice, kids who see no hope or opportunity become everyone's problem.
So let's make our state the national leader in sending kids to college - an investment that benefits us all. As Governor, I will propose a Free State Scholarship program to do just that, as well as work on making tuition at our excellent university system more affordable for all students.
And third, we all recognize the important role parents and adults play in education. Teachers are critical, and I am very proud that the recently named Maryland teacher of the year is from Montgomery County. But we can't expect teachers and support staff to play the role of parents.
For parents who have the flexibility at work to volunteer in their children's schools, it's a way to demonstrate to their children the importance of education. But many parents don't have that flexibility, or didn't have role models who did it for them, or simply can't afford to take time from their jobs to spend with their children, helping them learn.
That's why I will propose a public private partnership to get more adults and more parents involved with my top priority -education. It makes sense, and doesn't cost a dollar to taxpayers. When I'm Governor, there will be a simple rule: family-friendly businesses that have programs allowing their employees to spend time in their schools, will get preference for all state contracts. If you're going to do business with Maryland, you must share our priority and make your own investment in our future.
Education First - as a foundation for so much of what we can accomplish together.
Together is the operative term, and that brings me to a discussion of the City of Baltimore.
We won't move forward as a state while our largest city continues to lag behind - particularly in its schools. We won't move forward as a state while our largest city continues to shrink, or while neighborhoods there continue to struggle, even as the downtown improves.
We won't move forward as a state unless we can talk honestly about these problems, and until our leaders step forward with real plans and real solutions to address them.
Those who suggest that discussing the problem is a disservice to Baltimore are the ones selling short the City and selling short the people who live there.
How can we solve problems if we can't discuss them? It is the responsibility of every candidate in this race to put forward specific proposals to honestly deal with the problems.
The children of Baltimore are Maryland's children. They deserve the same opportunities as any other child in the State - but right now they don't get them. And that's just plain wrong.
We will not move forward unless every part of our state, from Prince Georges to Washington to Caroline Counties, share in the greatness that is Maryland.
Three fundamental rights will serve as the foundation for every decision I make as Governor:
The right of every child, from every corner of Maryland, to a quality education regardless of the neighborhood they live in.
The right of every child to learn - and every teacher to teach - in a clean and safe school, free of the fear that impacts far too many today.
The right of every child, who works hard and plays by the rules to go to college, regardless of their ability to pay.
Over the past several months, I've visited every county in Maryland, and the city of Baltimore. I've talked with the good people from every part of this state, and everyone wants the same things: good schools for our children. Better jobs for our future. Protection of the Chesapeake Bay. Smart growth. A strong transportation system. Affordable health care. And safer communities.
And everyone wants an end to the political gamesmanship, partisanship and uncontrolled egos we've suffered thru over the past few years - they want their leaders to think bigger for Maryland.
We don't have to settle for slots and squabbling - we can have a world-class school system and world-class economy - if we're willing to think bigger.
We can have a secure Maryland, and safer communities in Maryland - if we're willing to think bigger.
We can have a cleaner Bay, smart growth, affordable health care, and college opportunities for all - if we're willing to think bigger
I want to be Governor because of what we can be together. We can put Education First, not only in word but in deed as well. So it's time to think bigger, and get our beloved State moving once again.
Thank you, God Bless you and God Bless the Great State of Maryland!