The following speech was delivered by District 34A delegation candidate Sarahia Benn on September 4. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication.
From Friends To Elect Sarahia Benn:
Let me express sincere thanks to all who took the time out of their lives to come out today. To all those who have supported me in the past and even in the present. We are still on a historic journey and the company on this journey I could not ask for any better. You all have been an inspiration to me. A major driving force for all my successes I have experienced in public service the past year or more. You are all in my mind champions for all Marylanders and America in general who desire that we all make it to that promised land on Earth together. Many Activists, candidates, and other concerned citizens stand out here today as the exceptional embodiment of service.
To my family whom I love dearly even though we’ve experienced such profound and deep losses in this year and recent past you give me strength to be who I am. I must admit I am quite emotional in penning this. The memories…
Running for public office has made me go deeper than I have ever gone in my life. I thank each and every one of you for pressing me in a way that has driven every ounce of excellence out of me. Know you are all more than just neighbors or friends, you are family.
8 months ago, I began this journey officially, three days after my Mom’s burial. I got to speak about something dear to me which is advocacy, economic empowerment, and activism through the words of the late great MLK. You see starting this journey without the one person, my Mom, whom I had always had on my side was tough. But she said prior to her passing “you must live your dreams, fly high because those people have no idea whom they will have to represent them but I know how great you are. And even though I don’t believe in that voting bs, if I make it you will be the first person and most likely the only person I will vote for. If God is willing.” As you all know, she never made it but those words have carried me through.
You see, I come from a strong, well known local family called the Bishop-Bond. My cousin Rev. Reggie Bishop wrote a book called the Bishop-Bond where he traced every bit of lineage of our family. He found info on our Great grandfather Augustus who made $1,435.43 as a bagman in 1937 as written on a index card as an account for his social security. In March 1815, great great great grandfather John Durbin liberated and freed all of his kids and said “you kids are related to all of Harford County.”
Now on my Benn side I must admit I wasn’t as knowledged. My Mom had left my biological father many years ago, he had been abusive to her and finally became abusive towards us children so he had cut off all communications from himself and family until 2 years ago. I received an inbox. It said I am your cousin and I have been watching you for over a year. and it took us this long before we thought we should contact you. My mom is your father’s sister which makes her you’re aunt. She would like to talk to you and see if we can move forward. So I did call and I talked to my aunt Christine and we talked and we talked and we talked. She told me the history of the Benn family and how the Benns’ had never been slaves. And that I am related to every person in America named Benn.
Do you see the connections and patterns?
So as you can see, I know where I come from so I know where I’m going.
All my life I had felt the need to advocate for my community.
Literally I was born with advocacy in my veins and fire in my soul. It is these connections that brought me here today. We are all a part of one big community family. We share common grounds, common beliefs, and common desires. It’s now time that we put our minds, bodies, and souls into action to work for the good of all. And we can do it.
Despite having busy lives and individual dreams and goals we can still come together for the good of all to make the vision of today, tomorrow, and the future a reality.
Growing up my Dad use to say the future is not tomorrow, it is today.
He’d say, Benn, (that’s what my Mom and Dad called me)I know what I have went through and what I might go through tomorrow but for you the future still is bright as the sun that is shining today. Reach your hand to the sky and move towards it. My Dad was saying to me that no matter what challenges we face today we have to change tomorrow by changing our circumstances today. We have to have an urgency if we desire for what we envision today to be our tomorrow and future for our families, and our communities. Knowing the difference between change and positive change will propel us on the right course for a better tomorrow.
It is those grand and hopeful ideals that I was brought up on and still live by.
I am passionate, like so many concerned citizens this year that we need to have a massive renewal, rebirth, a massive uprising of positive change of representation in the State of Maryland. The vision and direction must positively change now. We can no longer be satisfied with the people who represent us as being just nice. We can no longer say”they’re not that bad”, we need to be demanding that we have representation that gets the job done…and I, Sarahia Benn, am that person.
Think about it I come from a bagman who made $1400 in 1937, a man who liberated and freed his children, and a sharecropper’s son to be here being able to run in the same county. I have deep roots and connections in Harford County.
I’m going to deal with an elephant in this election briefly by saying…there were Shenanigans played in this year’s primary directly against me and others. The thing is it also happened elsewhere too. I went all the way down to PG County to testify in support. But some folks have said to me “it’s only politics.” The problem is the voters are not benefiting from this trickery. Some will say this and that about me after this decision but I don’t care. I know that my run for public office has always been about doing the work for the People. To get better representation we need everyday ordinary Marylanders contributing to our system with positive change and integrity. This does not mean I am perfect but people playing politricks is the main cause to creating massive voter distrust, apathy, and suppression which means many politicians are serving themselves instead of serving their communities. I don’t think you all are hearing me……In 2018 it can no longer politricks no more.
So…..Democrats you are my brothers and sisters.
Independence you are my brothers and sisters.
Republicans you are my brothers and sisters.
young and old you are my brothers and sisters and so on and so forth.
Because we all have too much stake in this thing called life to continue to go at each other in the fashion that we have been going at each other. This is what I want to be a part of building those links, building those bridges, through the type of public representation that makes a republican friend of democrat, Democrat friend of independent, and young and old come together alike to learn and grow with one another and community. Now I know that Some may believe that I’m being naive and being a bit too hopeful. But I say if we don’t build it today all that we complain about won’t ever be our future.
The 40 corridor has immense potential for economic growth but it will take a strong and ingenuitive representative to make it work for every citizen in District 34A. The current representation has an Effectiveness rate of around 1.6% and 22%. It means that for every Bill they’re introducing the chances of success is virtually none. So we must ask ourselves is District 34A really progressing with such dim numbers?
There are numerous environmental, Transportation, educational, health, and addictions, economic where monies are going out but are not being recycled within the district.
These challenges don’t even seem to be on the minds of many of the current representation. District 34A is a beautiful place to live but truthfully speaking the way it has been set up it is NOT economically independent the way it can be or benefitting the people the way it should be.
It shouldn’t take a grandmother 2 hours to get to the senior center in HDG because the Senior Center in Aberdeen has been destroyed that means the transportation system is deficient. It shouldn’t take a student who wants an education at Harford Comm. College 3 hours to get from Edgewood to the college. Being located on the Bay water area we should be experiencing massive tourism and our water should be clean yet both are still major concerns. As a small business proponent I want to reinvigorate this area with massive small business growth but not at the detriment of job and wage growth. It’s tough to marry these things together however I have a plan that will make what looks as diametrically opposed work. We need representation that will make positive progress and I, Sarahia Benn, am the person who will make it happen. From building a Votech to replenish our aging tradesman workforce to improving our infrastructure and transportation to providing some governmental reform from governmental corruption to healthcare by helping to create a caregivers bill & a more stable individual market to investing in higher public education for our children today so they can be the leaders of our state tomorrow. Just finding more ways to make public funding work better for the citizens of this district and State. These are some of my visions of today that I plan on making sure will be the realities of the future.
Again, think about it…I’ll repeat. I come from a man who liberated and freed his children in 1815 to a man who made $1400 bucks in 1937, and a sharecropper’s son to be here being able to run in the same county. I have deep roots in this County. And I didn’t even mention that my Aunt Geraldine Hague has been considered a Harford County Treasurer for all the great things she did. So there has been some progress but I am greedy for more progress for all.
All of what I’ve listed are challenges that we are all going to be able to overcome. But it requires some new representation. Think about it if you did your job at approximately 1.6% or less effectiveness do you think you would still have your job? Rhetorical…you wouldn’t.
So after a group of voters in my inbox, on the streets, community leaders and activists came up to me and said all of what has happened must stop. That if someone doesn’t step up this time it may take decades for progress for ourselves and our kids. I decided I would step up. It’s time for a new voice a new vision, new Strength, and ingenuity in our representation in District 34A. And that is me Sarahia Benn.
So I am announcing that I am reactivating and re-launching my candidacy in this election beginning tomorrow when I file in Annapolis(Sept 5, 2018). Know that this decision was done in the interest of the people who have inboxed me, called me, wrote me, dropped by my house, and stop me on the street stating they were writing my name in anyways. My father served on the front line in the Korean war and I admit I could never do something as heroic but I want to serve. Know that my legislative priority will always be YOU, THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE AND BY THE PEOPLE.
But I need you help and your support now whether it’s postcard writing, driving me or others somewhere, canvassing, donating, and phone banking or a little bit of all. We can win this together. We can win this for the People for once.
So on October 25th, 2018 get out and early vote by writing in S. Benn.
Thank you and Blessings to you all.