You might say Dalya Attar is a trailblazer. A Bais Yaakov School for Girls alumna, wife, mother of two and attorney, she recently announced she is running as a candidate for the House of Delegates for the 41st District in 2018.
A Democrat and Baltimore native who lives in the Park Heights community, Attar is a 2014 University of Maryland School of Law graduate who serves as an assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore.
Jmore recently spoke with Attar about launching her first-ever political campaign.
What compelled you to run for office?
I’ve spent my entire life in Baltimore. Born and raised in the 41st District, I did all my schooling in the city. Today I work for the city, and I’m a wife and mother raising my family here. I have had a front row seat to the best of Baltimore, but also to the challenges we face. I believe that it is the totality of my experiences and characteristics that make me an ideal candidate for the entire district.
As an Orthodox Jew, I am sensitive to the nuances of the thousands of people in this expanding population, and particularly the serious financial challenges. For example, sending our kids to Jewish schools because we want to instill certain values, practices and beliefs might not be possible because the tuition creates more financial pressures. And most Orthodox families need two incomes and sometimes even juggle more than two jobs to help cover the bills for their often large families.
I believe the Orthodox Jewish community can benefit from a legislator who understands their priorities, without compromising being a voice for all residents of the district.
Why should non-Jews, including African-Americans, who comprise a large portion of the district, vote for you?
I hope that people aren’t voting for someone based on skin color, just as I don’t assume women will vote for me because I am female. I hope to be a voice for all District 41 residents. Each individual is equally entitled to safe streets, good schools, affordable and reliable public transportation, and preventative and responsive treatments for heroin addictions. I do believe there is great economic inequality in this state, and we need to eradicate the disparity. When it comes to solutions, I want to improve life for all families and businesses in the district, and I hope that African-Americans choose a candidate sharing their concern on key issues, one who will fight to implement solutions.
What are the biggest issues you want to address?
We need to rebuild people’s trust and confidence in the government and public service. Unfortunately in recent years, many Marylanders in positions of authority have faced serious ethical violations or abused their power. It’s critical for residents to know that elected officials are working for the public and not to line their own pockets.
We need to put the “more” back in Baltimore. It is critical that District 41 has a strong advocate in Annapolis who isn’t afraid to fight for more state funding for our communities, which will give our families more opportunities and choices. We need a careful examination of what funds we get from the state, how we can be sure to get sufficient funds and where those funds are going. While Baltimore City gets funds from the state, is District 41 getting its fair share?
Our children need free, quality education from pre-K to community college. We must secure more education funding from the government for Baltimore City students. I want to help create more training programs in our schools, preparing students for skilled jobs upon graduation.
We also need to bring enough funding and proper programs to combat our heroin problem; have sufficient funding for strong community policing to keep our neighborhoods safe; and support former inmates with more public-private partnerships for employment opportunities.
And increasing jobs — bring good paying jobs to Baltimore City; ensure affordable public transportation to enable people to get to work easily; and provide more proper job training programs for skilled and unskilled Baltimore residents.
Why are you qualified to address these issues?
My background and experience make me ideal to implement change. Although I did not graduate high school, I went to community college and ultimately graduated from law school. I understand that youth in Baltimore may not be motivated, and I can help work with them to find good solutions. And as an attorney, I am used to standing up and speaking out.
Top photo: Dalya Attar with husband, Asaf Mehrzadi, and their children, Ilana, 5, and Aaron, 3. (Courtesy of Dalya Attar)
Peter Arnold is an Olney, Md.-based freelance writer.
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