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?
Sophocleus: Yes, it is certainly going in the right direction to insure that each child is receiving a fair and equitable education. We must continue to monitor the income from the casinos to make sure that the proceeds sent to the State and Counties are appropriately applied to educational budgets.
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?
Sophocleus: We must continue to collaborate with our partners in the Federal Government to bolster our transportation funding. This assistance can help to avoid new taxes or fees. We must make certain that funds are appropriately allocated to roads and transit where they are most needed. A survey of all transit routes and methods should be conducted to make certain that the routes, schedules and current modes of transportation are efficient and meet the demands of our population.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Sophocleus: No, I do not. As a pharmacist I am concerned about how the industry would be managed and how the safety and quailty of the product would be controlled and tested. Currently marijuana is illegal under the laws of the Federal Government. Legalization of recreational marijuana will put Maryland in conflict with those laws and potentially jeopardize our Federal funding.
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?
Sophocleus: I co-sponsored the Clean Energy Act and the Clean Energy Jobs Act for the State in this last session and have promoted alternate energy programs. I am pleased that we are working with Chesapeake Bay management industries to continue oyster seeding and developement of new oyster beds. We should continue to work with our waterman and farm communitunites to increase healthy, clean water practices. We are continuing to encourage green building and innovative construction that reduces land waste that impacts the Chesapeake Bay.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Sophocleus: We need waiver and subsidy programs for our lower income residents and our growing senior citizen population that require assistance with their medical needs. This is a situation that requires constant management, consideration, review and improvement. We need a continued emphasis on accomplishing the goal of providing affordable health care to all of our citizens in Maryland.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Sophocleus: The State should pay great attention to the issues of crime in Baltimore City as there is no dividing line that separates their population with that of the surrounding jurisdictions. What impacts the City effects us all. The State has put money into grants that all jurisdictions can access which will help assist law enforcement agencies with crime reduction programs.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Sophocleus: Currently Maryland’s business climate needs improvement. Businesses should encourage better skills and job training for their employees. The State should encourage lower tuition costs and encourage educational support for graduating high school seniors. Competetive tax relief and tax incentives should be used to encourage businesses to come to Maryland over surrounding states offering incentives to various industries and corporations. Small businesses are crucial to our economy and our community. We should continue to offer support to them so that we can encourage their growth.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Sophocleus: I support fair and equitable geographic lines for each district, no matter who makes the decisions. I would certainly be open to the possibility of a non-partisan board as long as the body is transparent and conducts open meetings, allowing public comment and involvement.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Sophocleus: Yes, I believe it does. The Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights as it is intended provides adequate protection for citizens, any accused, and the Law Enforcement Officer.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Sophocleus: Education for all including prescribing physicians and health practitioners. Increase the number of treatment beds and the length of stay for treatment. Provide assistance to law enforcement agencies for their critical public education and intervention programs in the community. The crisis needs to be addressed by Health Care practitioners, Law Enforcement Agencies and the Court system working together with families and the public.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Sophocleus: The State continues to work with businesses to be certain that “Equal Pay for Equal Work” is the standard in the job market. The State also continues to address complaints regarding income disparity and potential discriminatory practices. As a delegate I do support and will continue to support all initiatives for equality in business practices.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Sophocleus: I believe they are adequate to meet the needs of the communities and the public as long as the State follows the written guidlines as established by the legislature and allows for proper vetting of the issues. As a delegate our committee meetings are open to the public and public comment is accepted and encouraged. The public has the right to insist that the current written policies be followed and not circumvented.