Lieutenant Governor of Maryland Anthony G. Brown means to put a radical spin on his traditionally low-key job description. He’s not sitting around waiting for gubernatorial mansion paint to dry, he’s working to end health-outcome disparities among race and geographic state lines; he’s advocating adoption as a chance to effect exciting twofold change; he’s also gearing up to run for governor in 2014.
A Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, Brown is the country’s highest-ranking elected official to have served a tour of duty in Iraq. His father came to the States from Kingston, Jamaica, and his mother from Altdorf, Switzerland — Brown himself was born in 1961 in Huntington, New York. I talked to the lieutenant governor about his work at hand, his ambition, what we can learn from the Orioles, and more.
Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.
Serve others before serving yourself.
When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?
I think it is always important to set new goals as we move through life. For me, two that have never changed are to be a good role model for my children and to use the tools of government to protect our neighbors and expand opportunities for all Marylanders.
What is the best advice (or worst) you ever got that you followed?
My parents always told me to give a hundred percent to anything you do and success will follow.
What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime?
Serving in the military gave me the opportunity to travel all over the world, and I learned that, despite our vast differences, we all have the same simple goal of bettering our communities.
Never underestimate the value of a simple “thank you.”
As the 2012 Orioles have shown us, if you work hard together, anything’s possible.
What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing?
Take the time to get involved. Look in your own backyard, your own community, for opportunities to serve. Get the most out of your education, and remember to do your homework.
What is the best moment of the day?
My schedule keeps me busy every day of the week, so anytime that I get to watch my son on the baseball diamond, have lunch with my daughter, or watch a movie with Karmen and the kids is time that I cherish.
What is on your bedside table?
I have a picture of my children and a copy of a 1945 letter from my father to my grandmother asking her to bring him from Jamaica to the United States so he could go to college and become a doctor. I also have a big alarm clock.
What is your favorite local charity?
Associated Black Charities.
Why are you such a proponent of and activist for adoption — what motivates you?
As the father of an adopted child, I believe that every child should have the opportunity to be raised in a loving, stable home, where they are given the chance to thrive.
You have headed the effort to help establish the foundation for what will be Obamacare in Maryland as well as launched Health Enterprise Zones to help eliminate health-outcome disparities in Maryland among race/class/geographic lines. With the second initiative, how have you gone about implementing this, what are the results and how do you measure them?
I’m proud that Maryland is the national leader in implementing health reform. We’re already seeing the results of reform — womens’ preventive services are now required to be covered by insurance plans; young adults are able to stay on their parents’ insurance until 26; and children cannot be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions.
However, in Maryland, a black child is three times more likely to die before the age of one than a white child. Disparities like this are unacceptable, and the Health Enterprise Zones program is designed to address them. I championed legislation this year to create the program, and we are currently accepting applications from communities to be designated the first zones in the state.
Together, these efforts will help us ensure that health care is not a privilege in Maryland, but a right.
Define the historic role of the lieutenant governor – how have you put your own important stamp on the job description?
Since being elected in 2006, the governor has given me the opportunity to serve in a far more substantial capacity than my predecessors. It’s been an honor to lead the administration’s efforts to improve health care, expand access to higher education, assist our returning veterans and protect and help victims of domestic violence.
What are your political plans for the near future?
I am exploring running for governor in 2014, and I’ve heard from many people who have encouraged me to run, which is extremely humbling. But right now it’s about governing and I’m really enjoying doing that with Governor O’Malley. Regardless of what comes next, I am confident that my service to the people of Maryland will not end when my term as lt. governor ends.
Do you have a favorite Maryland food?
Rockfish from the Chesapeake Bay.
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