Ben Jealous

Ben Jealous
  • Democrat
  • Running mate: Susan Turnbull
  • Age: 45
  • Residence: Pasadena

About Ben Jealous

Education

I studied at Columbia University earning a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1997. I went on to study at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar writing my thesis on suicide prevention for a master’s degree in comparative social research. I now teach criminal justice as a Visiting Professor at Princeton University.

Background

For more than 20 years, I have worked in non-profit management or been a partner in a business. My background is largely as a civil rights leader, community organizer and businessman, as well as a stint as a journalist where my reporting focused on police corruption. I worked as a student organizer for the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and then later for the NAACP in Mississippi, fighting to prevent public HBCUs from being closed. I then went on to work as a reporter and managing editor at the Jackson Advocate in Jackson, Mississippi. After earning my master’s degree, I went on to work as a program coordinator for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and then as the Director for Amnesty International’s Domestic Human Rights Program. After this, I worked as the President of the Rosenberg Foundation – a private grant-making organization and then in 2008 I was selected as the youngest-ever National President & CEO of the NAACP, where I doubled the organization’s revenue. Since then, I’ve been a partner at Kapor Capital, running the East Coast office out of Baltimore as well as a professor of criminal justice at Princeton University.

Questionnaire

1
Kirwan
Do you support the findings of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education? Are you committed to funding associated reforms, and if so, how?
Jealous: Yes and yes. I have committed to fully funding our public schools and ensuring that the casino and lottery revenue goes directly towards supplementing not supplanting historic sources of funding. There are several revenue sources we can turn to including requiring combined reporting and closing other tax loopholes. However, we also need to be better managers of the money we do have before we look towards other revenue sources. I believe that we don’t so much have a funding problem as we have a priorities problem. My experience as a CEO and businessman has taught me how to optimize budgets, and I’ll also use these skills to direct more funds into education.
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2
Transportation
Is Maryland's transportation spending appropriately balanced between roads and transit? Does the state have the resources to meet its transportation needs? With the cancellation of the Red Line and the advent of BaltimoreLink, is the Baltimore region adequately served by transit?
Jealous: When I’m governor, we will ensure that the Baltimore region has the 21st century transportation network it needs to be an engine of growth for the entire state. That means reviving the Red Line, expanding bus routes, and exploring a multimodal system that supports all types of transportation. Our current transportation spending is not appropriately balanced to meet the needs of all Marylanders and we need to think creatively about how to connect every worker to a job center and every student to their educational institution.
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3
Marijuana
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Jealous: Yes. We need to tax and regulate marijuana for adult use. I’ve released a criminal justice platform which outlines the principles of equity that we will follow so as not to travel in the footsteps of Larry Hogan who managed to launch the medical marijuana industry in our state without a thought to racial diversity. I will work with political leaders like the Legislative Black Caucus to build strong diversity requirements for licenses in the marijuana industry and bring in at least $120 million in revenue for our state.
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4
Chesapeake Bay
At a time when the federal government's commitment to Chesapeake Bay restoration is questionable, what new steps should Maryland take to protect this resource?
Jealous: Donald Trump has made it exceptionally clear that he has no interest in maintaining the health of our environment, including the Chesapeake Bay. We need a governor who’s willing to make sure that Maryland becomes a leader again in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Because the Bay absorbs pollution from 64,000 square miles of the American northeast, no one state can tackle this problem alone. They key to restoring the Chesapeake in the absence of federal leadership is cooperation among the states that cause runoff into the watershed. By reforming agricultural practices, and replacing broken infrastructure, Maryland can make a difference. But, ultimately, we would have to work with other states on policies, join other states in lawsuits, and hold the Federal Government accountable to uphold its responsibilities to our state.
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5
Health Care
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Jealous: The status quo is untenable. The only real solution is a Medicare-for-All system for which I have already laid out a plan for how we can get there and the intermediary steps we can take on my website, benjealous.com. We also need to directly negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug costs. When I was young, I suffered from juvenile epilepsy and I had to have my friend steal medication for me because I could have died without it. No family should have to choose between life-saving medication and poverty. The only way to get to universal access and cut costs is a Medicare-for-All system.
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6
Crime
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Jealous: I’m the only candidate to have released both a comprehensive criminal justice reform plan and a police department reform plan. The state should work closely to ensure the safety of all of Maryland’s jurisdictions. Here in Baltimore we need to provide funding to expand proven programs like Safe Streets and Roca as well as ensuring that civilians make up the majority of Hearing Boards for police misconduct.
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7
Business Climate
How would you characterize Maryland's business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Jealous: I’ve been a CEO or Partner in a business since I was 26 years old and now I work to grow startups and small businesses as a Partner at Kapor Capital. There are many regulations that we need to remove that hinder growth as well as ensuring that small businesses can access lines of credit. We also need to grow our economy from the bottom up, that means fully funding our schools and making sure we are investing in education from cradle to career. Implementing a Medicare-for-All system will ensure that small businesses don’t see the cost of healthcare harming their bottom line year after year as premiums rise by double digits.
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8
Redistricting
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Jealous: I believe that Maryland should lead the fight on redistricting reform in a fair and non-partisan manner that does not indefinitely hand control of the House of Representatives to Republicans. Redistricting compacts such as the one passed by the Maryland legislature and vetoed by Gov. Hogan are a fair and equitable solution to increase the accountability of Congress to the voters and reduce gerrymandering.
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9
LEOBR
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Jealous: Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights has become a recurring barrier to police reform, ultimately making it more difficult to identify and punish officer misconduct. As governor, I will support legislation that requires all allegations of police brutality be investigated no matter the filing date and that removes the 10- day window officers have before being interviewed by investigators following an incident.
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10
Opioids
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Jealous: We need to start treating the opioid epidemic like the public health crisis it is. Last year, over 1,200 Marylanders died from overdoses related to heroin, twice the number that died in 2014, while over 1,100 died with fentanyl in their system. As the epidemic becomes more complex and costly, with deadlier drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil showing up on the streets, Maryland needs a bold approach to effectively combat the crisis. In the short term, my plan will save lives immediately by investing an additional $2 million in state funding to stock Naloxone, sufficient for 25,000 doses of the life-saving drug as well as funding overdose outreach teams in more jurisdictions around the state. I also seek to increase the number of 247 crisis centers in high-risk areas to ensure that anyone who needs it can receive help at any time. The plan ensures treatment on demand is available to those who seek it, free from the fear of criminal punishment, and expands treatment options available in correctional facilities. A core component of resolving the opioid crisis relies on treating addiction as the disease it is and shifting our collective attitude toward rehabilitation.
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11
Income inequality
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Jealous: We need to raise wages across the board. I have been endorsed by SEIU because I am committed to raising the minimum wage to $15 and tying to inflation so that working families can count on having a living wage. When I’m governor, we’ll invest in all our families starting by fully funding our schools, providing universal healthcare, and providing necessary supports to our small businesses. By investing in people we can build our economy from the bottom up.
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12
Transparency
Do the state's Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylander's ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Jealous: As governor, I will aim to increase transparency at every level. I’m a lifelong civil rights leader and community organizer and I’ve always said that you don’t elect politicians to make change happen, you elect politicians to make it a little easier for the people to make change happen. In regards to the operation of executive departments, I would implement more frequent releasing of reports from each department outlining the status of the permitting process and regulatory violations. These reports should be available free of cost and online so that the public can access them. I believe in greater transparency when it comes to public meetings as well, I would work individually with each department to determine how best to release relevant information to the public as well as create easy channels for the public to request information and make that information readily available whenever possible.
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