Featured in East County Times
Bhandari campaign focuses on schools, seniors
- by Emily Blackner -
Harry Bhandari, a Linover Democrat, is running for the open District 8 House of Delegates seat, touting his personal and professional background and commitment to the community as his greatest assets. "Maryland has offered me tremendous opportunities and I want to repay that debt," he said. "By serving the people in my community in the Maryland General Assembly, I want to make sure that we offer that opportunity to everyone." Bhandari is "living the American dream," he said. He came to America from his birth country of Nepal with just $20 in his pocket and got a job as a cashier at a gas station, managing to save enough money to attend Johns Hopkins University. He currently teaches in Baltimore City Public Schools and as an adjunct professor at Baltimore City Community College; his children attend public schools as well. He has also started a non-profit to help provide education for children around the world. "I have spent a lifetime fighting for children and teaching children," he declared. "I want to inspire the coming generation, as well as the current generation, about what America is all about. I believe that if we do that, this country will remain the greatest in the world." Education, therefore, is one of Bhandari's top priorities. He would lower class sizes and college tuition and work to expand early childhood education, because "those who get an earlier start do better in life. Good jobs start with good schools." When asked about the controversial Common Core standards, Bhandari said that caution was needed. "Definitely, in theory it is good; however, implementation has not been," he explained. "It was not meant to punish teachers but they are seeing it that way. So we need to step back and re-evaluate that so it's not punitive and not creating chaos in the classroom." He noted that his in-classroom experience makes him well suited to fixing the problems and making implementation more of a collaborative effort. He is focused on the county's oldest residents in addition to its youngest. "Seniors have worked their entire lives to earn their benefits. I will make sure the state lives up to its commitment to seniors and keeps our promises," he said. With regards to job creation, Bhandari sees needed infrastructure improvements as a way to achieve that goal. He strongly supports the Belair Road revitalization and streetscaping projects and the proposed Northeast Trail. "To build a better future, we need to invest today," he declared. Bhandari has already worked to further those projects as an officer of the Linover Community Association and as a Cathy Bevins appointee to the Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee. Additionally, he has been a volunteer in local, state and national elections for many years and is finishing up his terms as vice president of the Baltimore County Young Democrats and as national secretary of the Young Democrats of America Minority Caucus. This experience means that Bhandari is no stranger to campaigning. He said he has about $40,000 raised so far, and he is "knocking doors and building connections with my constituents." He has also secured an endorsement from Maryland House Majority Leader Kumar Barve and from the Baltimore Metropolitan Council AFL-CIO Unions; Senator Kathy Klausmeier and Councilwoman Cathy Bevins are supporting him as well. If he wins, he would be the first Nepalese-American elected to public office not only in Maryland but in the entire US, he said. Bhandari believes that the diversity of people and opinions in the country, and in this district, are what make it great, and the Democratic Party's commitment to inclusion is what lead him to align with it. "It is important to unite the different communities together in the common cause of economic progress," he stated. "We want to bring everybody to the mainstream; no one should be left behind. "My professional experience in community service and education means I have the skills needed to make this district a great place to live, and I am committed to working hard to earn support," Bhandari concluded. "My profession, religion and passion is community service."