Sri Lanka Express

Krishanti Vignarajah's eligibility to run for Maryland governor’s race challenged

    Krishanti Vignarajah
    By Hassina Leelarathna
August 13, 2017 - Sri Lankan American Krishanti Vignarajah is the first woman to join the race for the 2018 Democratic nomination  for Maryland’s gubernatorial race.  But her candidacy is being challenged on the grounds that she does not meet the state’s residency requirements.

Immediately after the 37-year old former policy staffer to Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton announced August 9 that she was running for Maryland governor questions were raised about her eligibility.  
Vignarajah has voted four times in Washington, D.C., while also a registered voter in Maryland. According to a Washington Post report, she registered in Maryland in 2006 and in DC in 2010. Vignarahah voted in DC in 2014 and voted in Maryland in 2016.  Under Maryland state election laws, a candidate for governor must have lived in the state and been a registered voter there for at least five years leading up to the election.

In the latest development, the Maryland State Board of Elections has requested Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) to weigh in on whether Vignarajah is a Maryland registered voter, which is a requirement for running for governor.

Vignarajah maintains she meets Maryland’s requirements, telling a radio show -Kojo Nmandi  on WAMU-FM (88.5) – that she is “absolutely legally eligible to run.”

Vignarajah says on her website that she decided to enter the race because she wants to make sure her daughter will have the same opportunities as she did and promises to improve schools and increase wages.
“I am running for Governor because I am worried my daughter will not have the same opportunities my parents gave me when they brought our family here when I was a baby girl,” Vignarajah said on her official website. “The deficit in leadership from our current Governor could not come at a worse time.

“As Governor, I will focus on what matters most – improving schools, increasing wages, reducing crime, treating drug addiction, alleviating traffic, investing in infrastructure, and protecting our treasured environment. To accomplish all this, politics as usual is not enough. We need a new generation of leadership that will make progress at home, while standing up to a White House that threatens the very values that unite and define us,” she said.

Vignarajah’s main contenders in the primary will be  Prince George’s Country Executive Rushern L. Baker III, former NAACP president Ben Jealous, state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery), technology entrepreneur Alec Ross and lawyer James L. Shea.

Vignarajah has degrees from Yale University and Oxford. Her parents who worked as teachers at the Baltimore City public school immigrated to the United States from Sri Lanka during the war.