Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous’s grandmother, in addition to being an influence in the social work arena to political stalwart Barbara Mikulski, continues to persevere at 101 years old.
So a proposal Jealous unveiled Monday to protect the state’s seniors has a personal connection.
“She’s a blessing to me every day,” Jealous said of his grandmother, Mamie Todd. “Her life is a reminder that we are living longer and longer lives and we can flourish when our plate intentionally supports us in our golden years.”
The former NAACP president’s plan focuses on three components: financial, medical and social.
He would work with legislatures to help prevent seniors statewide from losing their homes to tax sales from unpaid water bills.
Delegate Mary Washington, a Democrat from Baltimore City, has legislation currently under review by the Senate to prohibit that practice in the city. Her bill received unanimous approval last month in the House.
Jealous would double the number of staffers in the Adult Services Division in the state’s Department of Human Resources to combat elder abuse. The plan doesn’t explain how and where money would come from to hire more workers.
According to Guidewell Financial Solutions, a nonprofit counseling agency of Baltimore, states the average victim of financial abuse loses about $120,000.
As for maintaining healthy living, the plan would provide dedicated funding to expand various senior programs statewide such as delivery of home meals and a farmer’s market nutrition program.
The social aspect of the plan pushes for intergenerational spaces such residential developments to include millennials, families and seniors. The proposal also would offer tax incentives for senior residences that incorporate child care services.
This helps reduce social isolation and improves mental health, according to the plan.
“When you are mixing senior citizen housing and affordable housing and market rate housing, you’re building with a vision with a community that is economically integrated, intergenerationally integrated and racially integrated,” he said. “You build a stronger community.”
The plan also touches running mate Susan Turnbull, whose mother died at age 74 after complications to cancer surgery. She resided in a nursing home in Ohio, but Turnbull later realized staff weren’t required to test residents for breast or prostate cancer.
Turnbull helped push a law in Maryland nearly 25 years ago that ensures all nursing homes screen and treat patients for those ailments.
“I didn’t want anyone else to experience what I did after my mother lost her life due to the lack of preventive health care,” she said in a statement. “This plan puts families first by ensuring that we care for seniors’ economic needs, social needs and health needs.”
Jealous will face eight opponents in the June primary: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III; Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz; state Sen. Richard Madaleno Jr. of Montgomery County; tech entrepreneur Alec Ross; Krish Vignarajah, a former policy director for first lady Michelle Obama; Baltimore attorney Jim Shea; educator Ralph Jaffe of Baltimore County; and James Jones of Baltimore City.
The winner will face Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the November general election.