Bowie City Council Member Todd Turner (At-large) has lived in Bowie for more than 10 years and served on the City Council since 2005. He also serves as president of the Greater Bowie Democratic Club. The views expressed below are his own, and not those of the Bowie City Council or the Greater Bowie Democratic Club.
On Nov. 6th, the residents of Maryland, Prince George’s and Bowie will have their say on Question 7, the ballot question seeking to expand gaming in Maryland and add a potential sixth site in the southern part of Prince George’s County. The General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1 in August during a Special Session that authorized the referendum question to be submitted to the voters of Maryland to consider this important matter.
In 2008 both Maryland and Prince George’s County voters approved the statewide referendum to allow slots gaming at five locations in Maryland by the same margin of 60–40 percent. So the residents of the state and the county have already made the decision to allow gaming in Maryland. Question 7 seeks to expand the types of games allowed (table games) to compete with surrounding jurisdictions (Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia), and to allow a potential site at either Rosecroft Racetrack or National Harbor in Prince George’s.
Since passage of SB 1 there has been a concerted campaign ($56 million at last count) by both pro and con advocates on the airways and in the mail to influence your vote on Question 7. Both Governor Martin O’Malley and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, III, have urged a Yes vote on Question 7 because of its potential to create jobs in and to raise critical revenue for the State, County and school system. It is true that that the projected revenues in 2008 from gaming have not been fully realized for many reasons. What is clear, however, is that Maryland is losing an estimated $500 million that is leaving our State for other jurisdictions that have the type of gaming that Question 7 seek to expand. In addition the State has seen increasing revenues from the three currently operating sites, including local impact grants to the communities that host the facilities.
In addition to the Question 7, there are thirteen (13) other Ballot Questions that you will be asked to vote on. They include seven Prince George’s County Ballot Questions A to G and State Ballot Questions 1 to 6. I would urge a Yes vote on all the Questions and encourage residents to educate themselves on the Ballot Questions before heading to the polls by visiting the State Board of Elections—www.elections.state.md.us—for more information.
Early Voting in Maryland starts on Saturday, Oct. 27th and ends Wednesday, Nov. 1st, with five poll sites in Prince George’s County, including the Bowie Library at 15210 Annapolis Road. We are proud that Bowie led the entire state of Maryland in the percentage of early voters in 2010 and ask you to strongly consider voting early this year. One thing is certain—an informed electorate and exercising your vote are always a good bet!