Kevin Kamenetz died suddenly on May 10. Under state law, his running mate, Valerie Ervin, has chosen to replace him as a candidate for governor. However, because ballots were already being printed, his name will still appear as a choice for voters.
About Kevin Kamenetz
A lifelong Marylander and lifelong Democrat, Kevin Kamenetz graduated from the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Baltimore School of Law.
Kevin Kamenetz has a long history of public service. A practicing attorney for over 35 years, Mr. Kamenetz is a former Assistant State’s Attorney for Baltimore. Kamenetz was elected as Baltimore County Executive for the past 8 years, and previously served 16 years on the Baltimore County Council, where he served a record four terms as chair. He is the immediate past President of the Maryland Association of Counties, and also served as Chair of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council and the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board. He also serves on the boards of the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, and the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Board Of Visitors. He is married, the father of two teenagers, and resides in Owings Mills, MD.
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?
Kamenetz: Yes. Marylanders have long valued our investment in education and for years our public schools were ranked the nation’s best; now, according Commission Chairman Kirwan, Maryland is just “middle-of- the-pack.” Even worse, Maryland has massive disparities in educational outcomes and the eighth-worst achievement gap in the country. Meanwhile Governor Hogan continues to fund near the bare minimum. As governor, I’ll fix that. That means committing to the Kirwan Commission’s bold vision for the future of Maryland’s public schools. If we are serious about returning Maryland’s schools to the nation’s best, Maryland must:
Revise antiquated funding formulae that have contributed to the historical disparities in our state while expanding capital funding for school construction;
Prioritize early childhood education to provide universal, high-quality prekindergarten;
Expand Maryland’s commitment to attracting, retaining, and supporting educators; and
Reduce barriers to advanced learning opportunities, like I have done in Baltimore County through our Community College Promise and Early College High School programs. I look forward to reviewing—and responsibly implementing—the Commission’s final recommendations with educators, advocates, and thought-leaders. Maryland is perhaps the richest per capita in the country and we can find a way to fully fund education, if we have a leader who will set bold priorities, create sustainable budgets, protect employees, and maximize taxpayer dollars. That’s exactly the type of governing I have accomplished in Baltimore County. It is what I will do as our state’s next governor.
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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?
Kamenetz: Maryland’s transportation needs aren’t solved by just building highways. We need to invest in 21st century mass transit solutions that ease traffic congestion and promote economic development. Governor Hogan pulled the plug on the Red Line without any analysis or opportunity for public opinion, tossing aside a decade of thoughtful regional planning, turning away $900 million in federal funding, and moving $900 million of state money reserved to address transportation needs in the Baltimore region to rural road projects. His “plan-B” for Baltimore was a bungled color-coded bus system, and we are still stuck in traffic. The lack of thought and planning that went into that decision is deeply offensive and dismissive of the need for thoughtful long term investment. If we want Baltimore to be the world-class region we know it can be, we must provide world-class transit, and that means getting the region’s rail plan back on track. We must provide faster, more reliable service to current high population areas, while including surrounding counties as part of the mass transit solution so that people have a viable alternative to the Beltway. By recommitting to a plan that integrates existing infrastructure, we can serve major employment centers and ease congested corridors—all while tapping the potential of the region to drive Maryland’s growth for generations. And transit promotes economic development, as we have achieved at the Owings Mills and Hunt Valley rail stops.
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Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Kamenetz: Now that Maryland is getting its medical marijuana program up and running, I want to make sure we get that implementation right. Meanwhile, I continue to monitor states that have moved to full legalization to see what lessons we can learn. Legalization offers opportunities to reduce crime and provide taxation revenue to the state. I want to ensure Maryland moves forward in a measured and responsible way if voters here make the same determination as other states with marijuana legalization.
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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?
Kamenetz: Climate change poses one of the most significant threats to our state’s long-term health and prosperity. Unfortunately, Governor Hogan has consistently bent to the pressure of “Big Chicken” and other special interests by rolling back environmental protections and under-funding the inspectors who protect our health and safety. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has gone unchecked by our governor as it tried to zero-out funding to protect our precious Chesapeake Bay and continues to push antiquated dirty fossil fuels. Today, Maryland’s natural treasures have never been at greater risk. As governor, I will defend our Chesapeake Bay, which provides a $30 million annual economic impact in the form of fishery, recreation, and even land values. We must recommit to smart growth policies, and expand efforts to grow Maryland’s clean energy economy, by:
Aggressively leading the charge to stand up to the Trump Administration and fully empowering the Attorney General to defend Marylanders in court;
Doubling Maryland’s RPS targets to 50 percent by 2030, generating additional clean energy projects and confronting climate change impacts;
Expanding our state’s commitment to renewable energy solutions with new investments in Maryland-based solar and wind to create good-paying jobs and reduce air pollution;
Continuing restorative practices that rebuild eroding stream beds and protect shorelines;
Expanding incentives and grants to help farmers implement practices that reduce soil erosion, promote nutrient cycling, and improve water retention while reducing chicken manure runoff; and
Doubling the number of oyster bed sanctuaries to help filter the Bay.
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What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Kamenetz: Health care is a basic human right and we have made great strides in expanding access with the Affordable Care Act. Our state’s uninsured rate has been cut by about half since Obamacare became law; however, an estimated 200,000 Marylanders still struggle to obtain affordable insurance. At the same time, the Hogan Administration has stood by as costs have skyrocketed, approving 15 double digit rate hikes for Marylanders buying insurance on the exchange. Following recent efforts to sabotage the ACA by eliminating the individual mandate, Maryland must take action to improve the risk pool, stabilize markets, and lower premiums. The rapid increase of costs for life-saving medications is now pricing many out of the ability to take care of themselves or their loved ones. Maryland must do more to contain these rising costs and, when necessary, take legal action to stand up to major drug companies and insurance companies. As governor, I will protect and strengthen Obamacare to provide better care for Marylanders, by:
Exploring a “Public Option” on Maryland’s Exchange that allows Marylanders to buy into Maryland’s HealthChoice Medicaid Managed Care Program at reasonable prices, increasing access to doctors, hospitals and community health centers;
Reinstating the insurance mandate repealed by the Republican Congress, and use the funds to offset insurance premiums; and
Expanding opportunities to reduce costs by better integrating our unique hospital rate payer system with health care professionals.
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What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Kamenetz: The primary responsibility of government is to protect its citizens; however, under Governor Hogan’s watch, we are seeing crime rise without a coordinated response. Rather than working as partners, Hogan shifts the blame onto local jurisdictions and offers antiquated and ineffective policies that will return to Baltimore to discriminatory policing and perpetuate systemic discrimination. The state must serve as a partner with Baltimore in the fight against crime, not a roadblock. As governor, I would support a number of strategies to increase collaboration between the state and Baltimore City, including:
Increasing coordination between parole and probation and local law enforcement to target violent offenders;
Providing assistance in the recruitment and training of police officers to ensure that BPD is operating at full strength;
Expanding actively monitored CCTV crime cameras and gunshot recognition technology and allowing state police to collaborate with BPD and staff the Citiwatch system;
Strengthening partnerships between State Police and Baltimore City Police Department to assist with traffic enforcement, freeing BPD officers to focus on strategic crime reduction;
Increasing support for violence interruption programs, like Safe Streets, to reduce shootings, restore neighborhood trust, and strengthen communities; and
Redoubling efforts to remove underlying causes of systemic violence, including the failure to achieve equitable performance in our public schools and a lack of economic opportunity. With a governor who is truly committed to working with Baltimore, we can make our communities and region safer, stronger, and more just.
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How would you characterize Maryland's business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Kamenetz: Larry Hogan’s economic development strategy is to use taxpayer funds to bribe large companies to stay in-state without requiring major job creation targets. Now, Maryland’s economy is falling behind. According to an analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maryland’s job growth has lagged behind our regional neighbors. By supporting investments in fundamental drivers of a strong and robust economy such as stronger K-12 public school system and job training opportunities, we can create a stronger pipeline of jobs. That’s exactly what I’ve done in Baltimore County. When a century of steelmaking ended at Bethlehem Steel and 2,000 people were put out of work, I made it a priority to create the next generation of jobs. Today, Sparrows Point is coming back to life with 17,000 new jobs. We have also created the “Job Connector” program in Baltimore County that collaborates directly with employers to expand training in key fields and increase access to high-quality jobs. Thanks to programs like these, Baltimore County has cut our unemployment rate in half. As governor, I will create jobs and revitalize communities, by:
Ending corporate welfare and focusing on job training to retain, promote, and attract businesses;
Expanding Baltimore County’s innovative Job Connector program statewide;
Investing in our state’s existing business assets, including cybersecurity, biotech, financial services, and health care sectors;
Targeting growth industries like Maryland-based clean energy and advanced manufacturing;
Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour; and
Increasing opportunity by implementing thoughtful transportation strategies.
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Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Kamenetz: Yes. The inherently political gerrymandering process is unjustifiable and has helped contribute to the hyper-partisanship and gridlock we see in Washington. We must respect natural boundaries and keep communities together and I support efforts to ensure compact and contiguous districts.
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Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Kamenetz: The goal of the original Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR) was to provide due process protections that law enforcement workers deserve without unfairly tipping the balance away from what the public should expect. Unfortunately, the current system is challenged by the current “alternative hearing board” amendment, which makes “trial boards” subject to collective bargaining negotiations, with inconsistent processes for different police agencies. The great strength of the original LEOBR was its uniformity and consistency, and we should eliminate the alternative hearing boards and let the General Assembly set a standard policy that every officer and every citizen understands and apply it uniformly.
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What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Kamenetz: Tragic deaths from opioid overdoses continue to skyrocket in communities across our state and we must do more to help those suffering from substance use disorder to stop loss of our loved ones to the disease of addiction. As governor, I will support bipartisan efforts to improve the ACA and take steps to end this public health crisis, by:
Increasing education efforts to end the stigma surrounding the disease of addiction;
Ensuring the opioid overdose reversal medication, naloxone, remains accessible and taking steps to keep it affordable;
Expanding access to evidence-based, on-demand treatment, so individuals can enter treatment as soon as they are ready;
Supporting police interdiction efforts to break the illegal networks that continue to funnel heroin, prescription opioids, and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, into our communities; and
Filing lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors who have profited by misleading doctors into prescribing opioids for chronic pain.
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What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Kamenetz: Ensuring equal opportunity to success will produce more equitable outcomes across our state. No one working full time should be living in poverty. I support raising the state minimum wage to ensure Marylanders who work full time should never live in poverty. Maryland must also commit to advancing educational outcomes and ensuring more robust workforce development initiatives, which are critical drivers to address income inequality. These opportunities are the best, long-term approach to increase life-long earnings. And although the pay gap in Maryland is much lower than other states, there is more to be done to ensure wage parity. The National Partnership for Women & Families found that women in Maryland are paid 84 cents on the dollar compared to men — an almost $10,000 gap in the median salary between men and women. This gap is even more extreme for women of color. As governor, I will work with employers to create more pay transparency, and create a support system for women to fight pay discrimination.
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Do the state's Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylander's ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Kamenetz: While I think the State’s Public Information Act provides appropriate levels of oversight, I would be open to discussing and considering additional ways to strengthen the Maryland’s law because I believe that one of the most critical components to improving community relations is fostering trust through transparency. As Baltimore County Executive, we have consistently provided prompt responses to MPIA requests and have continued to translate more of the government experience online. In Baltimore County, I have utilized technology in all ways to better disseminate information more effectively, and our website was recently recognized as the one of the most informative in the nation. As governor, I would continue that commitment by ensuring state officials follow the Maryland Open Meetings Act and strengthen support for public information requests to provide additional levels of accountability for state government, and continue to invest in emerging technology to ensure that more aspects of state government are more readily available to the public for review.