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?
Heflin: The Kirwin Commission has been helpful to identify what problem areas we face, as well as great solutions that would get us back on track. I am committed to finding ways to fund these reforms, and reforming (as well as streamlining) the way that gaming revenue is distributed is a strong start.
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?
Heflin: We have been under-funding infrastructure in this state, and a drive around the city or many of our main arterial roads tell the tale of where that has gotten us. Something that also concerns me is the equity of infrastructure; working-class communities and communities of color should enjoy a high quality of infrastructure as well. Just as much as we need more funding, we need more equitable funding. Transit in the Baltimore region needs a SERIOUS overhaul. I live on a major bus line in Southwest Baltimore, and yet it takes almost THREE hours to get from my place in Halethorpe to Route 40 in Catonsville. This same trip by car would take only 10-15 minutes. It’s really hard for people who don’t live in dense population areas to use public transit to live and work. A strong public transit system is a requirement for a modern city and economy, and investing more in ours will make sure that more of us can live in one.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Heflin: Yes I do. It’s about time we move past our antiquated notions about marijuana. This would also reduce populations in our correctional system. Legalizing recreational marijuana will also provide added revenue, which could be used for our much-needed educational reforms and infrastructure building projects.
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?
Heflin: We should do what we can to close any funding gaps that EPA funding cuts create. A healthy Bay is important to our health, economy, and environment.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Heflin: We should support more outreach programs, that would allow health care officials to help people (especially those who frequently access emergency care) navigate the health care system. We should also ensure that children in our foster system are receiving the quality health care that they are entitled to.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Heflin: This climb in the crime rate is yet another symptom of our under-investment in schools, especially in these neighborhoods. As we begin to better fund our schools and community centers, services can be offered that will begin offering residents a different choice than the few that have currently.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Heflin: We have a strong business climate, but quality and inequity of infrastructure keeps this activity cloistered in pockets around the state. This makes it more likely that any future business activity will also flows into these pockets. Improving our infrastructure will promote business growth and quality of life all over the state.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Heflin: I absolutely support this. Creating overly safe districts leads to an ossification of ideas, and this makes fresh and responsive ideas harder to trickle through government. Government should reflect the better nature of its people, and our election system should make that reflection as easy as possible.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Heflin: Any adopted set of rules needs to equally protect the civil rights of all parties involved, both police and defendants.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Heflin: Nar-can should be made widely and freely available. This would help reduce the number of people who would die of an overdose. We should also invest more in data sharing, so that it is easier for health care providers to more accurately identify and (if possible) help those who need it.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Heflin: Instituting a universal pre-k program and fully funding our schools will begin to close our income gaps. Many achievement gaps open up before students even show up on their first day of school. Because of systemic under-investment, these gaps only widen. A school building and renovation program would also allow more schools in the state to create community schools, which will also help community students and residents to access services that will help improve their lives.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Heflin: I can speak to this: as we begin our education and infrastructure reforms, the people of Maryland should be able to clearly and easily see how their money is being spent. Our tax dollars should be going towards making our schools and roads better, not lining someone’s pockets.