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?
Russell: I support funding our school systems and making sure that our citizens have access to their school boards and have more transparency with in our school systems.
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?
Russell: Yes I believe that the state is adequately spending a balanced portion on both roads and transit. I live in the Baltimore County area and I have relied on the buss system as well as all forms of transit to get to and from work within the city and to neighboring counties. I have experienced the system before Governor Hogan was in office and after he took office. We did not need the red line but we need more buses and we need the bus routes to be at a constant time. Many of the buss routes are late or some times are not going because the buss drivers don’t show up or there are not enough buses. we need to make sure that the buss routes are on time and constant. Peoples paycheck count on these buses to be on time and to make sure people get to work on time.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Russell: I support the full legalization of recreational marijuana as well as decriminalization. Marijuana accounts for most of the criminal cases within the state of Maryland. This substance should never have been classified as a schedule 1 narcotic and should be regulated and taxed just like alcohol. The revenue alone from businesses as well as growers would add a revenue source that is sorely needed in today’s society and could relive many of the taxes burdening the citizens of this state.
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?
Russell: I believe that we need to commit efficient resources to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. This is a precious resource that we must not abandon nor should we neglect. I believed that the drilling off the shore of Maryland by the federal government was the wrong idea and could expose the Chesapeake Bay to disasters in the ecosystem and the water. Maryland is famous for its crabs and we need to provide every possible resource available to make sure this industry stays strong
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Russell: Having lost my job and being on medicare from the state. I know all to well how much an affordable healthcare system would mean to a family struggling to get by. However, we can not afford to screw up and waste 400 million dollars on rolling out a state affordable healthcare system that does not work. I believe that we need to make sure the people have access to health care and make sure the people are able to seek medical help if they need it. But all to often these affordable programs implode due to the lack of people signing up and the premiums rising due to the fact that the young people just starting work have to pay higher premiums to offset the cost to the elderly. This will drain the middle class and after a whole implode and become a mess. we need to make sure that we have a system that has competition and that we look to our neighbors to the north and across the sea. England’s system allows the opportunity for both a payer system and a government run system to make sure that all people are taken care of.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Russell: The state’s role in addressing the Baltimore violent crime wave is to come up with bills that would allow for harsher punishments as well as body camera bills and funding needed to reinforce a police force. However the state can only do so much as far as bills. the Things that would actually make a difference, like community policing, cracking down on corruption and making sure that we keep these people off the streets comes down to the city of Baltimore and its mayor.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Russell: Maryland’s business climate is on the rise thanks to Governor Hogan and his policies of getting Maryland back to work. However, we still have a ways to go to be number one. Many people are losing jobs do to automation jobs that would have provided family supporting pay and would allow people to put food on the table and a roof over their family’s heads. Now many democrats are supporting a living wage or a 15 dollar an hour wage that would kill many small businesses and automate many of the left over minimum wage jobs. what we need to do is invest in our work force and train them for jobs such as plumbers and electricians and technical jobs so they can get hired for a job that would afford them a livable wage.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Russell: I fully support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional districts in Maryland. When we have the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House , and former Governor O’Malley all saying that they intentionally drew these lines to get more democrats elected and to make sure that no republicans had a chance was subverting the voice of the people and broke a trust between the people of Maryland and their representatives. when listening to the Supreme court case of Maryland’s redistricting case. Even the democratic Justices concurred that there was evidence of extreme bias in drawing of these lines. We need to bring the power and checks and balances back to the people and out of the hands of corrupt politicians that draw lines to favor them staying in power and for their party’s gain.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Russell: I believe that the Officers Bill of Rights adequately balances the protections for police and the public.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Russell: The strategy I would adopt to address the opioid epidemic would be to make sure that the doctors prescribing many of these medications do not over prescribe and that we regulate the amount doctors can prescribe someone with pain.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Russell: The state can address income inequality by investing in its workforce and providing training and opportunities with tech companies as well as labor companies, like plumbers and electricians to hire and train the work force for jobs that would provide them a living wage.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Russell: No the state’s Public Information Act and open meeting laws do not adequately ensure Marylander’s ability to exercise oversight of the government. We need to make sure that Marylander’s are able to view, interact and trust their government. However that is difficult when the legislation wants to make bills such as HB 1723 that would take the school building programs out of the hands of the board of public works and put them in the hands of lobbyists, or when legislators vote against a bill that would audit and provide transparency about the funding of the Baltimore County school system.