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?
Barrie: Yes, I support what I know of the Kirwan Commission report at this time. I support any recommendation for a better educational system where we attract the best of the best of teachers and we put resources in our schools to ensure our children graduate with excellence and can compete in the job market. I am committed to funding and once I get to Annapolis and I am more in the know of the funding availability in the budget, I will be able to assess how to pay for it. However, I will commit funds to positive growth programs like this.
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?
Barrie: From what I know, Maryland’s spending is not appropriately balanced. It seems like more funds go towards highway construction than public transit. I believe the State could meet its transportation needs if they allocate funds in the appropriate way. Although I am not as verse with issues pertaining to Baltimore, I don’t believe Baltimore is adequately served by transit. It appears that the State has removed transit opportunities from communities that are in desperate need of public transit. As a result, these communities are at a great disadvantage.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Barrie: I believe in the legalization of medical marijuana because there are many people who need it to help with severe pain. As to recreational marijuana, although I may not personally agree with the use of marijuana, I believe that legalizing marijuana may be a moral requirement because so many non-violent people are locked up and their lives forever changed and not for the better. I also believe that as reports have shown, legalizing marijuana will also bring in revenue to the State. However, we have to ensure that the fall out is not over use of it causing negative effects on our young. Therefore, if it is legalized, we must put in regulations to ensure our children are protected.
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?
Barrie: We currently have a public contribution effort that has been successful. We need to enhance and that program, not necessarily change it, but let the public know that federal funding for most programs like the Bay are not Washington’s priority and emphasize that we must and will take ownership of the future of the Bay.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Barrie: Healthcare is a right and as such everyone should have access to affordable health care. I believe that having the Maryland version of the Affordable Care Act is the right way to go. In that way, we do not have to worry about Washington does because our residents will be protected.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Barrie: The state should look at the root cause of all this violence. Studies upon studies have shown that poverty has a direct link to violent crimes in some of our neighborhoods. There is a clear correlation between the two. I believe that creating an environment where disenfranchised neighborhoods have an infusion of resources for education, economic development, mental health services, employment, etc., a lot of the issues we see will start to slow down. Additionally, law enforcement needs to foster a working relationship with the neighborhoods and build trust with the community members. Police should have proper resources to properly use community policing that is culturally sensitive.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Barrie: Although there has been an increase in business registrations, that doesn’t necessarily mean we are doing well with attracting businesses. However, Maryland could also be said to have a competitive market in a sense that there is opportunity for innovation and also opportunity for growth. The state needs to invest in our young population. We need to create more innovative spaces to attract our young entrepreneurs. A recommendation would be having innovative spaces by things like the Purple Line. These could be what differentiates us from our neighbors. This would help young families grow and have job security because of the innovative times we are in now.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Barrie: At this time, I will not recommend any real change. I will need to do more study on this subject.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Barrie: It’s not fairly balanced because it seems to be heavy on the training side and not as much on the community policing side. It needs to be more balanced because even if police are extremely trained, the problem with community policing cannot be solved by training. We should make a change and focus a bit more on the community and developing a trusting relationship between police the residents they are to protect.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Barrie: This crisis is heart breaking and the State must take the lead on addressing this issue. The State should proactively provide access to NARCAN to save lives and ensure that all emergency vehicles have it available when called in. We should then focus on educating our communities about these drugs. I agree with the move we are making right now in trying to hold the drug manufacturers responsible for the crisis.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Barrie: Start with equal pay for men and women. We should pass $15 minimum wage. Provide early childhood education and child care, especially for single mothers. That would go a long way with helping families. Index early childhood care based on the local jurisdiction to determine the need based on CPI (consumer price index) of the local jurisdiction.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Barrie: It is good that meetings are held publically and the meetings are posted. However, the problem is that the meetings may need to be held at a time when most residents can attend. As it stands, accessibility of the government meetings by most residents is almost non-existent because most people cannot make the meetings at the times they are held. Therefore, I don’t believe that Marylander’s ability to exercise oversight of the government is adequate.