“With what the state legislature’s been doing with spending—$11 billion in almost eight years and all the new taxes—people need options,” he said.
Bedingfield acknowledges that a large percentage of 46th District voters are Democrats. But there are a lot of conservative Democrats among them, he argues.
“They vote Democrat because they’ve always voted Democrat,” said Bedingfield. “My hope is that I can change minds.”
Of course, he hopes the areas Republicans will vote for him as well.
“A lot of times, Republicans don’t turn out to vote simply because there’s nobody to vote for,” Bedingfield commented.
That was part of his motivation for entering the 2010 race, his first venture into politics since he ran for Chattanooga City Council at 24.
“There were no opposing views—no options,” he said.
Two of his major focus areas for the 2014 election are “safe streets and good schools.”
“You have got to break the stranglehold of the education establishment,” he said, adding that there are “a couple avenues” to do so.
One is charter schools. Another, Bedingfield says, is school choice.
“I’m actually in favor of the voucher system,” he said. “I believe parents should have a choice in where their children go to school.”
He added school boards should be elected bodies if there districts are going to receive state money.
As for safe streets, he says that the prison system needs to be reformed.
“Let’s face it—Maryland has a revolving door prison system,” said Bedingfield. “Violent offenders get 10-15 years, then they’re out in six or seven for good behavior.”
For handgun crimes, he says, “there shouldn’t be any good-time behavior.”
And the death penalty can be an effective deterrent against the worst crimes, Bedingfield argues.
“I think as a society we have to have the ultimate punishment.”
When the law isn’t fast enough, citizens, he says, should have the tools to protect themselves, and easing handgun restrictions for those who can pass a background check and complete an approved training program is a way to allow for that.
“If you cross those two hurdles, then the state should have no ability to tell you no,” Bedingfield said, adding that there should be no “duty to retreat” from an intruder in your home.
“I think your individual duty is to yourself and your family, and you have every right to protect yourself.”
Much of Bedingfield’s platform is centered on budget and fiscal matters. He says that state lawmakers have a major spending problem.
“It’s almost like they’re trying to catch California,” he said.
On Bedingfield’s website, Roger446.com, he proposes several measures to reverse the trend of spending and borrowing. One of these is eliminating all new taxes and fees enacted during the past four years, including the stormwater fee, gasoline tax increases, toll increases and more, “to increase private sector activity which would in turn increase tax revenues.”
The proposed Red Line, he says, is a money drain that will ultimately not benefit the state or city.
“The only thing that’s going to attract people to the neighborhoods are safe streets and good schools,” he said. “You can spend billions of dollars and just criss-cross the city with tracks and it won’t make a difference.”
Bedingfield says that people settled in the state through means other than the legal immigration process are also causing a drain on Maryland’s finances. His website states that as of 2008, “there were an estimated 700,000 illegal migrants in the state at an estimated cost of $2.6 billion, while only having contributed $203.5 million to the state’s coffers.”
“This is probably going to be controversial, but I think Maryland hospitals shouldn’t issue birth certificates to children of illegal migrants,’ he said. “You don’t have to round these people up and deport them.”
His website calls for proof of citizenship or legal residence for drivers licenses, business licenses and social services. He suggests a minimum penalty of one year in prison and a $10,000 fine for those who employ those other than citizens or legal residents.
Bedingfield lives below Patterson Park, near the golden domes of St. Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church. He came to Baltimore 14 years ago, following a career in the airline industry to BWI airport. His longtime girlfriend from Pigtown kept him in the city, after he had spent years moving around the country. Today, Bedingfield puts in 55-60 hours a week as a manager for an international shipping company.
“I can’t stand to leave things undone,” he says.
More information about his platform and campaign can be found at Roger446.com.
by Erik Zygmont