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?
DelMonte: Yes, but even further, my concern for education is particularly acute, given the current state of the economy in my district in Western Maryland. High quality pre-K through 12 education is a primary concern for businesses and professional services looking to relocate to our area. Please see my website for more details: dandelmonte.org
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?
DelMonte: I wish to speak at this point to the issue of transportation as it concerns Western Maryland. Our current representatives have either opted entirely for highway funding or voted no on mass transit options. It is my intention to include Western Maryland in the conversation on transportation links, as we have unique needs that are not being met and are therefore isolated from the rest of the state and country, hampering development. Businesses and professionals as well as our current residents need access by air and rail, just as many neighborhoods in the Baltimore area have found themselves isolated by the demise of the Red Line project. Communities need access to thrive.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
DelMonte: As a therapist who has also worked in substance abuse counseling, I can say I have seen this issue in its entire complexities. Surely most reasonable people recognize that criminalizing cannabis has only served to create unintended social problems. Increasing law enforcement efforts will only exacerbate those social problems. However, there is such a thing as cannabis substance abuse disorder, just as there are opiate and other substance abuse disorders. If the citizens of Maryland should choose to vote for legal recreational marijuana, I would support it if and only if it is taxed and the tax revenues go to serious, long-term, professionally run substance abuse communities throughout our state. I can tell you from a professional’s knowledge, our current services are woefully inadequate.
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?
DelMonte: Stop the gas frack pipelines through our state. We as a nation are now a net exporter of fossil fuels and natural gas is already plentiful and cheap. There is no pressing need for the dangerous practice of horizontal drilling under the Potomac in western Maryland, risking our canal towns. The same can be said for the eastern pipeline projects and any future expansion of eastern shore power plants.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
DelMonte: Affordable health care will not be achieved until we have a comprehensive national health care program that limits profiteering for health care costs. Until that time, we need to ensure that our patchwork programs that assist subgroups who fall through the cracks are funded.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
DelMonte: The state is an indirect partner in providing communities support for their own initiatives in addressing crime problems. I believe these initiatives spring from the ground up and the state needs to distribute its support equitably throughout the regions. Keep in mind that studies have long shown that access to jobs, education and affordable health care are the best preventives to crime.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
DelMonte: I can speak to Western Maryland’s condition. We are a stagnating economy that needs to import businesses and professionals to our area. Besides the aforementioned improvements to k-12 education and transportation, we need to address basic LOCAL health care services and infrastructure, both of which are shrinking in my district. Government has a job to do and it has too long been cutting corners, which hurts local economies. Please see my website for more information: dandelmonte.org
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
DelMonte: Absolutely. I am in complete agreement that what we have has resulted in one-party rule in every region of the state, and a loss of democracy. People feel their voice has been diminished.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
DelMonte: To my knowledge the LEOBR was a good faith attempt at balancing those protections. It has been brought to my attention by citizens and officers alike that where we have failed to protect both the public and the police officers is in the area of training and education of officers and remedies for burnout prevention among officers, including substance abuse interventions.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
DelMonte: Please see my answer to question 9.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
DelMonte: Maryland can be a model among states by providing the best access to affordable health care, education, jobs and maintaining its basic infrastructure.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
DelMonte: I have seen these laws in action and they can be very helpful in guaranteeing citizen oversight, albeit difficult to enforce in some regards, since there is little followup if government officials fail to heed court orders. In Cumberland, we have faced these issues when our local government created the CEDC, a private corporate charged with the duty to transact certain real estate deals on behalf of the city. The CEDC has resisted open meetings despite a court order to do so.