2018 Maryland election results

Leslie Milano

Leslie Milano
  • Democrat
  • Age: 44
  • Residence: Chevy Chase

About Leslie Milano


  • BS in Biology, St. Joseph’s University - MA in Theology/Ethics, Union Theological Seminary - Master’s in International Public Policy, Johns Hopkins University - Leadership certificate, Harvard University Kennedy School of Government


Co-founded nonprofit organization focused on labor rights at age 25; spoke at 300 universities and business schools over the course of eight years on corporate social responsibility; invited by then-Rep Sherrod Brown to brief members of Congress on labor abuses in US-subcontracted factories. Currently, executive director of a public health organization focused on infection prevention and control. Turned around the business, which was net negative into a multi-million dollar organization in three years.


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?
Milano: Yes, I am fully committed to supporting and adequately funding the Kirwan Commission recommendations, among which are universal pre-K, incentivizing a teacher leadership development, prioritizing career and technology education, and more. In order to adequately fund the final recommendations, we need to fight for existing dollars, identify partnerships that can produce funding and resources, and generate new revenue by expanding our tax base. First, casino revenues (roughly $500M) which will now be re-directed to education can help to fund these recommended initiatives. Second, I will also propose legislation for a grant/foundation-seeking Authority to assist with certain recommendations that private and corporate funders would consider. We are a small, nimble state that can partner on pilot projects to enhance the quality of our education. Companies like Tesla, foundations like Pew, or nonprofit advocacy groups can partner with our school systems to provide new opportunities for students. Third, on a larger scale and with a longer-term timeframe, I have a tiered economic plan for expanding the tax base, which includes smart growth for neighborhoods, creating the conditions for small businesses to thrive, recruiting businesses from certain high-paying sectors (i.e., tech, finance, etc..) and investing in renewable energy. If we prioritize renewable energy in Maryland, we can aim to generate more of Maryland’s energy within our state, and sell to surrounding states. This will produce a strong, diversified revenue stream for our state, with an enormous potential for growth.
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?
Milano: I would say that we need to spend more dollars on transit, but am pleased that the $167M in dedicated Metro funding was passed in the last two weeks. The dedicated funding for Metro is a step in the right direction. If we can recruit Amazon, this investment will pay for itself. If Amazon does not locate in Montgomery County, we still need this investment to recruit other smaller businesses and expand our tax base. Forty percent of Metro riders are federal employees, so we need to work with our Congressional representatives to push for federal funding. We need to ensure that we are addressing the needs of residents and reducing traffic in order to increase our quality of life and entice new businesses to locate in Maryland. We want to ensure that no additional businesses re-locate to other states. Investing in transportation, and offering affordable, accessible, convenient transportation options is one way to provide additional value to businesses. We don’t want to build super-highways, but instead, our solutions should leverage technology and best practices from across the globe. I defer the Baltimore region transit analysis to those living in the Baltimore region.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Milano: I would support the legalization of recreational marijuana. We can establish marijuana sales as a new revenue source by taxing it appropriately and selling distribution licenses.
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?
Milano: We can’t let the federal government off the hook for the health of this national, natural resource. Through the media, we need to create enough tension as legislators and citizens to ensure that federal funding is not dramatically cut. While the Trump administration has gutted the EPA, we need to change the conversation from one of environmental protections to one of economic sustainability because that narrative will generate more support in DC. And in the end, that is what is most needed. We need to commit to sustained funding for addressing environmental concerns for the Chesapeake Bay, and take a regional approach to ensuring we reduce contaminants and stormwater runoff. I support incentiving organic farming practices for industrial poultry farms while assigning fees for farming pollutants. I support the 100% clean energy goal for Maryland’s RPS, and strengthening programs aimed at regenerating the ecological life of the Bay. I support incentivizing surrounding towns to increase their green space and to curb stormwater runoff.
Health Care
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Milano: A single-payer plan is ultimately the best way to provide broad access to affordable health care. This is not an easy piece of legislation to pass, but it is necessary and Maryland is the right state to pursue it. By folding employer insurance plans into the single-payer, businesses would no longer be responsible for providing health insurance, and individuals would be granted the freedom to change jobs without potentially losing certain health benefits. The Obamacare Exchange in Maryland has caused great difficulty for business owners and individuals, as it has dramatically increased premiums in the last two years, which comes when competition is limited. As a state, our plan for increased accessibility and affordability must incorporate a standardization of fees for health insurance premiums and prescription medication. Without this, many Marylanders are one health incident away from a severe economic burden with the potential for loss of property or, in certain situations, life.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Milano: Violent crime in any part of the state should be the concern of the entire state. We need to prioritize community policing, and more aggressively address the deteriorating relationship between police and lower-income communities of color in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death. As a person who doesn’t live in Baltimore, I defer to Baltimore community leaders on specific actions; however, as a Delegate I will support and vote to fund efforts that enhance and improve the relationships between law enforcement and communities, particularly those approaches that are based in best practices. The state can fund crime prevention efforts by investing in education, free college and vo-tech training, job-creation efforts, and healthcare for Baltimore’s at-risk residents. Given its needs, Baltimore should receive universal pre-K and other early childhood interventions as soon as possible. I have received the Gun Sense Candidate distinction from Moms Demand Action and am a member of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence. I strongly agree with the approach to pass common sense gun regulations, and strict regulations in locations where gun crimes have spiked. We need to close gun purchasing loopholes, and ensure that people with dangerous histories have less opportunity to purchase guns quickly. I will be a fierce advocate in the General Assembly to this end.
Business Climate
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Milano: I would characterize Maryland’s business climate as fair. There are 27,000 open jobs in Montgomery County, which is indicative of the overall situation in the state. We need investment in affordable housing surrounding Metro hubs and in workforce development in order to ensure that we have trained individuals to meet the needs of small and large businesses. We can encourage more partnerships with community colleges and other in-state universities to ensure that we have the trained workforce we need. I support encouraging an incubator approach by subsidizing office rent for a set period of time, streamlining (and onlining) state requirements for business growth, and providing tax incentives for the growth of our current businesses. The incubator approach should be applied state-wide, including in Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore where entrepreneurism - along with micro-loans - can be fostered to bring revitalization. I support the $15 minimum wage, which will help to move our state in the right direction for providing better wages to individuals supporting themselves and their families. Lastly, we must deal directly with the lack of affordable child care, as this is a major stumbling block for families, especially women who want to re-enter the workforce. Making childcare tax-free and further subsidizing it for lower-income women is the right approach. As a candidate for Delegate D18, I have been endorsed by former Governor Parris Glendening, and share his concern for prioritizing shared prosperity throughout Maryland.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Milano: Absolutely. We cannot support gerrymandering when it works in our favor, but complain when it works against us. Gerrymandering is unethical. The independent, non-partisan body is the right decision.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Milano: The 1974 law does not adequately balance protections for police and the public, and as many argue, protects officers from discipline and scrutiny. We need to respect our law enforcement personnel for the sacrifices they make each day. We also need to ensure that no individual is harmed or killed at the hand of law enforcement as an accident. We need due process for city officers. We also need to ensure that everything from minor to gross misconduct is addressed appropriately. Officers should not be granted special rights when they are investigated for misconduct. There should be no impediments to conducting comprehensive investigations. The responsibility for disciplining police officers should not belong to boards of sworn officers. We need to remove the wait time for when superiors can question officers. We need to lengthen the timelines that individuals have to bring about excessive force complaints. Civilians should participate as part of a broader board of review.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Milano: As a person who volunteered in an opioid clinic in my earlier career with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, and as a public health executive for the past decade, I would say that any approach needs to be evidence-based and grounded in best practices. Ohio was able to dramatically reduce their overdose and addiction crisis by creating interventions that promoted the responsible use of opioids, reduced the supply of opioids, and targeted overdose prevention efforts. Public awareness campaigns are critical. Mental health funding is even more critical, as so many opioid users are self-medicating for mental health issues that are not yet identified and are un-addressed. Pharmacists need to be engaged in a state-wide strategy to promote responsible prescribing and must adopt prevention practices. Other evidence-based approaches include interventions with families and students to reduce risk factors (such as delinquency) and increase prevention (such as honing decision-making and problem solving skills, as well as successfully resisting peer pressure.) If we target prevention through schools, we can dramatically reduce the addiction rates. The overdose component can be addressed in part by addressing the underground market of fentanyl. Fentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than morphine, and in many overdose cases, is confused with heroin by the user.
Income inequality
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Milano: I have worked on issues of poverty at the grassroots level - both in the US and abroad - for a long time. The best way to address income inequality is by offering opportunities to lift individuals, families and communities out of poverty. Education and training is the first prong of a multipronged approach to dealing with income inequality. I support free community college and free technical/vo-tech education for all Marylanders. I support laying the ground-work now for free four-year college in the future. We also need to increase pay for those at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. We need to commit as a state to increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour. We need to strengthen our equal pay laws, and work to close the gender pay gap. Women of color receive slightly more than half of the pay of white men for the same work, per recent statistics with EqualPaytoday.org. Lastly, we should assist in the transition to good jobs. We need to invest in apprenticeship programs, and similar programming to assist with the movement out of poverty. We must facilitate high-quality, accessible childcare.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Milano: Government agencies have been known to block access to public information through delays, redactions that many consider unnecessary, and excessive fees, which was reported by the Baltimore Sun nearly two years ago. The Maryland Public Information Act Compliance Board does not hear complaints that involve fees of less than $350, which is an unreasonable fee for many in the general public and can be considered a barrier to proper government oversight.

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