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?
Pretlow: I support the Call to Action as prescribed by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education - with exceptions. I am committed to funding expanded access to Pre-K (regardless of household income and circumstances) so that children become students as early as possible. We must devote more resources to at-risk students, students with disabilities. and provide ESOL for students and parents. Most importantly we have to reduce classes sizes, employ culturally-competent educators who teach a culturally-relevant curriculum and not a standardized test. Funding to support what is needed is already available through a well-appropriated budget that prioritizes closing achievement gaps first. There has to be reforms and the answer is not limited to demanding more and more money. Fix the fund by fixing the budget and changing the Leadership.
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?
Pretlow: I do not believe the Baltimore region is adequately served by transit. As a resident of Howard County, its difficult to get to downtown Baltimore - unless you own a car. I believe the state has the resources to develop comprehensive plans to build a much needed common-sense mass transit system that connects the Baltimore-Washington area. We need to consider building a mass transit link before we continue with all this ‘developing’ - which has led to overcrowded schools and no access to real affordable housing.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Pretlow: Yes. I support the legalization of recreational marijuana because it has in-part contributed to the mass incarceration of black men. I also support a tax on the sale of recreational marijuana. I believe that the revenue should be considered as a funding source for rehabilitation services and programs in our prisons (along with a reformed criminal justice system) - to begin second chances while serving fair sentences. With a state-operated prison system that rehabilitates offenders intro productive citizens we could see a sustainability of economic growth, reduction in crime, and reduced dependency on welfare programs for lower-income families.
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?
Pretlow: We need to make sure that every public trash can has a recycling bin next to it. Conventional farmers have to be fully educated on the ‘best management practices’ conservation practices which is helping farmers reduce and prevent runoff of nutrients, fertilizer and other resources into streams, rivers and the Bay - the “pollution diet”. Styrofoam needs to go. We need to do better at enforcement of some of the steps we’ve already taken. There’s needs to be more accountability.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Pretlow: I believe in a single-payer healthcare system that will help to ensure each Marylander has coverage when he or she needs it, low-cost affordable prescription medication and a primary physician. Gaining access to affordable health care requires immigration reforms - to make sure and provide opportunity that anyone who is not a legal citizen is in a lawful status and authorized to work and contribute to our economy.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Pretlow: We should make sure that highly-effective programs like ‘Safe Streets’ have secured funding and accountability, to expand and to do more of the work that has helped to reduce violent crime.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Pretlow: Corporations are opening their doors, not paying livable wages, not investing back into their employees or local economy, raking-in profits, and paying their executives big bonuses adding up to millions and millions. In order to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs, we have to move from a minimum wage to a livable wage that provides for a sustainable living, savings and benefits with real job protections. If you make a big profit, your hourly-workers should enjoy handsome paychecks and consistent scheduling. Their must be real reforms made to at-will employment in non-union workplaces.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Pretlow: No it doesn’t adequately balance protections for police and the public - it seems to provide more excuses with less accountability for the police. Officers should not be allowed to use profanity when engaged with citizens, whatsoever. Officers should not allowed to antagonize citizens or provoke situations. Citizens need more protections in their rights to question their interaction with police, in any aspect. Complaints should be welcomed with accountability and responsibility within a customer service approach. There is no real accountability for the actions of police officers. We must first make changes to the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights with the input of the people, then move towards customer service training.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Pretlow: The abuse of opioids is an unfortunate epidemic. Families and lives are literally being ruined daily. I’m prepared to be an advocate for policy and programs that educate our community about prescription drug-use safe practices. I will also support mental health programs that better address drug addiction and helps push recovering addicts towards healthy lifestyles. Opioid abuse is an extreme disservice to patients who are in need of the medication to reduce their symptoms. We have to be more vigilant about tracking and monitoring the use and frequency of the drug; and holding physicians and pharmacist more accountable. I am committed to advocate legislation and collaborate with our community stakeholders to develop a holistic approach to rid our communities, families, jobs, and property of drug abuse. Not forgetting to extend this work to the heroin epidemic.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Pretlow: While workers are actively demonstrating their skills at-work, employers are often under-compensating employees who don’t hold a skill certification or degree (unskilled). This contributes to income inequality. However, more often employers are not investing into their employees or their communities or recognizing their demonstration of undocumented skills . We have to increase accessibility to skill certifications programs that can be presented equivalent to both the education and skill qualifications for skilled jobs. These programs must be made available in lower-income communities and should be based on the demonstration of skills and should not be limited by the requirement of a high school education.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Pretlow: No. Maryland, specifically Howard County and Baltimore County, has major transparency issues. The rules are being written, passed into policy, then broken. I am committed to holding our government accountable at all levels. I believe in accessibility and transparency - both are equally important to the democratic process.