One of the common refrains James Dvorak hears when he’s out door-knocking is that he’s “too young” to be a politician.
“And people are right. I’m not a politician,” Dvorak, 24, said Tuesday night, during an official kickoff event for his run to represent District 3A in the Maryland House of Delegates.
He also might borrow a line from Captain America to respond: “I’m just a kid from Brooklyn.”
Brooklyn, the neighborhood in Baltimore, that is.
Dvorak, a Republican, moved to Frederick when he was 12 years old. Now, he commutes to the University of Baltimore, where he’s in his final semester of law school.
As a candidate, Dvorak said he’s focused on three main issues:
- Curbing the opioid epidemic in the state.
- Cutting taxes, regulations and red tape for small businesses and state residents.
- Gerrymandering and redistricting reform.
They’re three things that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has also spent significant time addressing, which isn’t lost on Dvorak.
“A vote for James is a vote for Governor Hogan in the Legislature,” he told supporters at the campaign kickoff.
Dvorak has been door-knocking and attending political events since the summer.
He is the first Republican candidate to file for a 2018 campaign in District 3A, which includes the city of Frederick and surrounding areas.
Dvorak hopes to become a prosecutor when he graduates, which informs his view of his central campaign premise: that a reduction in violent and drug crime can have positive ripple effects throughout a community.
In an interview, Dvorak said he would take a tough stance as a lawmaker on violent and drug crimes because he believes “where drugs go, violent crimes follow,” leading to additional issues such as a decrease in the quality of schools.
While Dvorak initially supported mandatory minimums as a tough-on-crime approach, he now believes that the legal system should have more flexibility, while still imposing "swift and certain" sentences.
“It’s become clear to me that it’s not the severity of the punishment, but the certainty and the swiftness of the punishment that deters and is effective,” Dvorak said Thursday.
There’s another issue he’d like lawmakers to address quickly, too: congressional redistricting reform.
At the campaign event, Dvorak said a shift to a nonpartisan redistricting reform commission that would draw congressional lines — instead of the governor and legislators — is just one thing lawmakers could do to ensure that the state government is fair, democratic and representative of the people.
“Gerrymandering and redistricting reform is the first step to working toward more accountability and better ethical standards,” he said.
Dvorak said as a lawmaker, he would also work to decrease “the gap” between lawmakers and citizens, by maintaining close contact with constituents.
The 2018 primary election is on June 26, 2018, and the general election is on Nov. 6, 2018.