A Seat at the Table: An Interview with Mckayla Wilkes

Written by Truman Robinson.

Mckayla Wilkes is a democratic candidate running for Congress in Maryland’s 5th voting district this April against Congressman Steny Hoyer. Wilkes is running on a grassroots campaign and is receiving wide appreciation for the positions she runs on. She recommended  some of the things she would like St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) students to know about before they vote in the primaries on April 28. 

Wilkes shared the platforms she supports, along with some of the programs she plans on implementing. Plans like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and Fair Taxes are all on her agenda.  On housing issues, she supports the Homes Guarantee movement, a grassroots movement based on giving affordable housing to everyone. She also is interested in expanding a Section 8 Program, which would increase access to affordable housing for seniors. For gun-control, she has a multifaceted plan that involves establishing a federal trust and universal background checks to diminish violence in our communities. 

As someone who is open about her police record, Wilkes has seen first-hand how the criminal justice system can financially ruin families while the wealthy can get away practically for free. The “Criminal Injustice System,” as she famously puts it, stigmatizes and profits off of the impoverished people and their substance abuse. With her plan, she wants to implement a program that rehabilitates rather than punishes. She would abolish private prisons and end cash bails. With this plan she hopes to begin a change of mentality that destigmatizes our prison system.  

Wilkes addressed Congressman Hoyer as one of the biggest reasons we do not see any of these critical changes. Hoyer has been MD-05’s congressman since 1981 and is running for reelection in 2020. Wilkes points out that Hoyer’s website has no plan for affordable housing or gun control and his major contributors are wealthy fossil fuel companies.

On her Twitter, Wilkes is adamant in her support for Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign for president, who shares many of her ideals and progressive movements. When asked  if the results of the caucuses had changed her view she said no, and that Sanders is, like her, for the people. She points out that the other candidates have and will continue to attack Bernie because he challenges the system that the rest of the candidates are funded by. “Money influences people,” she said. Both she and Bernie want to fight for actual people, not billionaires and corporations. “The 1% have had their seat at the table for too long. If they want to help us, have them step down and give us our seats.” 

One of the biggest worries for democratic voters is seeing how separated the democratic candidates and their supporters are on their respective platforms. In response to these concerns she said that first, candidates need to stop sharing false narratives. The Democrats need to be transparent about who is supporting them and why they defend their platforms. As she sees it, the democratic candidates have to ask a question: people or money. She said “Investing in us is not radical. We cannot be afraid to challenge the status quo. We cannot be afraid to try something new. Putting ourselves first should be our top priority.” 

My final question for Wilkes was “What is the most important thing that you would like the students of SMCM to know about you?” Wilkes responded saying that she is a democrat running for the people. In her own words, “I am a regular person, and we deserve so much more. I’m standing on the lines. I want to make sure we all have the same voice and we all have a seat at the table.”

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