Sen. Rob Garagiola (D-15) prides himself on keeping a close pulse on the needs and concerns of the residents of District 15. He hopes that his responsiveness to constituents in his first term as senator will ensure a win over Republican challenger Bill Askinazi on Election Day.
Garagiola said that during the legislative session each winter for the past four years, he has spent hours at a time in front of Giant Food in the cold handing out surveys to constituents in order to learn more about their values and concerns.
“As senator, I’ve worked very hard to be out in the community and accessible to the community,” he said. “It’s not just ‘Campaign year, so now you see me.’”
In recent months, Garagiola has been campaigning nearly every day, speaking at local community colleges, talking with residents in front of grocery stores and knocking on doors. Voters have expressed concern about gridlock and traffic, healthcare, the environment, and maintaining high quality public school education, he said.
Garagiola argues that his record reveals him to be a champion of these causes who can appeal to Democrats and Republicans alike. He helped secure money for Project Open Space, the C&O Canal and projects like an emergency room in Germantown and the Ivymount School in Rockville. He authored legislation to create a solar energy grant program so homeowners and businesses can purchase subsidized solar panels, and he fought to keep commuter trains open upcounty.
“I’ve been knocking on Republican doors and reaching out to Republicans, and I’ve gotten very positive feedback from all constituencies,” he said.
GARAGIOLA’S OPPONENT Bill Askinazi has aimed to appeal to Asian- and Indian-American constituents, visiting local temples and emphasizing ethnic inclusiveness on the campaign trail. Garagiola says that he also appeals to minority voters. He cited a recent award from the League of Korean Americans, his membership in the NAACP, and his legislation to improve the minority business enterprise program so that “small business owners of different ethnic backgrounds have additional help getting state contracts.” He also co-sponsored legislation to create a day commemorating the Asian Lunar New Year.
“That is probably the most important holiday for Asian-Americans,” he said. “It’s a time to recognize their contributions and learn about their culture.”
Naomi Bloch of Potomac called Garagiola “a very proactive legislator” and cited his work to bring the Shady Grove Adventist Emergency Center to Germantown.
“He gets out there and is responsive,” she said. “He sees what needs to be done and goes and gets the job done. He was instrumental in getting services that were desperately needed upcounty – with all the development up that way, the population was not properly taken care of.”
Venattia Vann of Germantown, who is a member of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee in District 15, is another Garagiola supporter. She is impressed with his work for education, the environment and increased healthcare coverage.
“Rob makes sure our issues and concerns are taken care of,” she said.
<b>Rob Garagiola (D)</b>
EDUCATION: B.A., Rutgers University; Distinguished Honor Graduate, Primary Leadership Development Course, U.S. Army Reserve; U.S. Army Airborne School, U.S. Army Reserve; J.D., George Washington University
OCCUPATION: health and administrative law attorney
LIVES IN: Germantown
EXPERIENCE: State Senate, 2003 – present; served as a senior aide to a U.S. Congressman, 1994-1998; staffed the U.S. House of Representatives, Democratic Health Care Task Force, 1995-1998; U.S. Army Reserve, Sergeant, 1995-2001
FAMILY: Married to college sweetheart, Cindy Garagiola; have three children, a boy and two girls, ages 8, 6, and 5
ENDORSEMENTS: Maryland State Teachers Association; Montgomery County Education Association; Montgomery County Medical Society; NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland; Montgomery County Council of Supporting Service Employees (SEIU); Maryland State and D.C. AFL-CIO, Progressive Maryland; Montgomery Green Democrats; Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats of Maryland
CAMPAIGN FINANCES: $240,714.92 in campaign contributions and $237,486.52 in expenditures since the 2002 election; cash balance of $38,415.07 as of Sept. 1