I am Penny Walker and I am running to be your District 1B representative in the Maryland House of Delegates. I have proudly lived my entire life in Allegany County and raised my family here.
I have always been a fighter, fighting my way to independence from foster care by taking jobs in the local sewing factories at the age of 16, getting my own apartment and supporting myself by the time I was 17. I am fortunate to have been helped by two selfless teachers, Ms. Riggleman and Ms. Andrews, who volunteered to meet with me after my factory shifts so that I could complete my high school credits and graduate from Fort Hill High School in 1989. I am indebted to the public school teachers of this county who sacrificed their personal time for my education and I will work to ensure all educators have the resources they need to make the strongest impact on our children's futures.
Following graduation from Fort Hill, I became a licensed health insurance agent. After five years I went to work for the Office of the Public Defender and then later joined a public interest law firm as a Paralegal where I am in my 19th year. I have spent my career advocating for people facing economic hardship. These families are faced with a wide range of problems brought about by the cycle of poverty. I have been privileged to assist the most vulnerable members of the community while they are facing some of life’s greatest challenges.
In 2012 I became a small business owner opening MaddCatt Vapors on Maryland Avenue in Cumberland on a shoestring budget with help of family and friends. I was motivated to open my business after a death in my family caused by cigarette smoking; knowing cancer disproportionately impacts those of us in Western Maryland. Since then I have become an impassioned spokesperson promoting harm reduction solutions in my community. In 2015, I relocated my business to downtown Cumberland at the Queen City Triangle where I now employ 15 people and have opened a location in Hagerstown where I employ an additional 9 people. Over the past six years, I have strenuously advocated for and against regulations that both protect consumers yet allow small businesses to thrive. My experience as an entrepreneur has shown me first hand the significant impact of a small business on a struggling community.
I am the mother of two beautiful daughters, a full-time employee and a business owner. For the past 19 years I have fought for families on a case by case basis and I am ready to take that fight to Annapolis for the citizens of my district. I look at my daughters and want them to have the same opportunities here in Allegany County that hard work and determination have afforded me. Many wonderful people in Allegany County helped me achieve my dreams. I cannot sit on the sidelines while the community I love and that has given me so much is threatened by problems that continue to be inadequately addressed. I will be a bold and loud voice for the people of District 1B.
Thank you for your consideration and your vote.