2018 Maryland election results

Lorig Charkoudian

Lorig Charkoudian
  • Democrat
  • Age: 45
  • Residence: Takoma Park

About Lorig Charkoudian


Ph.D., Economics, 2001 Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD BA, Mathematical Economics, 1995 Pomona College, Claremont, CA Newton (MA) Public Schools, Graduate, 1991


I have developed a network of community mediation centers which bring mediation and other restorative processes into communities, schools, prisons, courts, families, and other institutions. In 1995 I started the Community Mediation Program in Baltimore. This center has been a model on which other Maryland centers have been developed and a model which has received national attention. In 1999, I led an organizing effort to get stable funding from the Maryland Judiciary for community mediation (still in place today) and to develop Community Mediation Maryland (CMM), which I have run for the last 13 years. Through CMM, I have developed re-entry mediation, which is a nationally recognized model, shown by independent research to reduce recidivism. Our centers bring mediation and restorative practices into schools, and I was a leader in the efforts to pass the Commission on the School to Prison Pipeline and Restorative Practices, on which I now sit. We have developed unique models for criminal misdemeanor mediation, which resolve underlying issues, prevent violence, and keep people from entering the criminal justice system. I have led efforts to create real voice for residents in engaging with police agencies. This work has led me to all corners of the state and I have worked with the administrations of several governors. I have passed legislation and developed agency policy that codifies several of these approaches into Maryland law and procedures. These seeds of community empowerment and justice will continue to grow and bear fruit over many years to come.


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?
Charkoudian: I support most of the recommendations of this Commission and believe this creates an important opportunity to address the opportunity gap in education in Maryland. I support finding funding from some of the following sources, without raising taxes on low or middle income Marylanders: 1) Closing corporate tax loopholes through combined reporting and instituting a “throwback” tax 2) Implementing an on-line sales tax 3) Reinstating the estate tax to pre-2014 levels 4) Legalizing, regulating, and taxing an adult cannabis market 5) Making casino revenue additive to supplement education funding rather than replacing general funds 6) Increasing the percentage of Table Games profit that is directed to education
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?
Charkoudian: Maryland’s transportation spending is not well balanced and Maryland needs to invest more in public transit and prioritize funding to make roads more pedestrian and bike friendly. Maryland needs to increase tolls on roads and bridges back to pre-Hogan rates to sufficiently fund public transit and other transportation needs. Baltimore is not adequately served by public transit and more needs to be invested to support the needs of Baltimore residents.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Charkoudian: I have supported legalization of a regulated adult cannabis market for years, for its ability to decrease the number of people caught up in the system of mass incarceration, redirect funds that are currently wasted in prosecuting and punishing marijuana related issues, and bring in much needed tax dollars from taxing recreational use of marijuana. At this point, it is a no-brainer, as several states have demonstrated the potential success that I have always believed was possible. In taking this step, we should also seek to ensure employment opportunities for people who currently make their living selling marijuana in the illegal market.
Chesapeake Bay
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?
Charkoudian: It is critical for Maryland to continue to be a restoration leader amongst the Bay states and the District, even while the federal government fails in its leadership. Specifically, I believe the following programs should be continued and enhanced: a. The Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) is a key partner in working with and coordinating between the federal agencies, states, the District of Columbia, and the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and I’ll work to ensure it has the resources it needs to succeed. b. I’ll work to maintain and enhance funding for the best management practices that support continued implementation of the WIP, the Bay Restoration Fund, and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coast Bays Trust Fund, to reduce both point and nonpoint pollution. c. Maryland should increase the area under oyster sanctuary, increase the protections within the sanctuary, and incentivize and support oyster aquaculture start-ups to take pressure off the wild oyster stock. d. The requirement that farmers have a Nutrient Management Plan, including the phosphorus management tool, should be continued. For the process to be really effective, however, the Maryland law that shields farm-scale reporting of data needs to change. e. The airborne pollution coming off of a chicken farm, particularly in the form of ammonia, is locally significant and has not been effectively addressed to date. That ammonia then falls onto the local lands and ultimately into waterways where it can be taken up by algae. I will support legislation to regulate this pollution.
Health Care
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Charkoudian: I support single-payer health care in Maryland as the most equitable, efficient, and humane way to provide health coverage to all Marylanders. While a federal single-payer system would be ideal, the economic analysis of the Maryland data conclude that we can make it work in Maryland alone, if needed. I would also want to explore a regional single payer system, or a system including other states so that we can broaden the pool of those covered. There are several components to funding. First, the administrative costs that are saved by a single-payer system are significant and these savings become an important part of the funding package. The ability to negotiate lower drug prices will also result in significant savings. Federal funding to the State in the form of waivers, Medicaid, and Medicaid expansion dollars would go toward the system. Additional taxes on employers can be offset by the fact that they will not be paying for health insurance for employees. Employees may pay an increased payroll tax that would replace funds they currently pay toward premiums and co-pays. This should be more equitable, as lower income employees currently pay a larger portion of their salary for health care costs. We may also consider taxes on harmful substances such as tobacco or sugary foods. I am interested in reviewing a complete analysis of these sources to determine the right mix of each source.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Charkoudian: The state should invest in housing, healthcare, education, public transit, and equitable economic development to address violent crime in Baltimore. The state should dismantle the system of mass incarceration, shifting resources from lengthy sentences and toward community treatment for mental health services, addiction recovery, job training, and community conflict resolution. Residents who have been traumatized by violence need services to heal from that trauma and transform their communities. State elected officials should also personally support grassroots efforts, such as the Baltimore Ceasefire, that reinforce community resilience.
Business Climate
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Charkoudian: Small businesses are the foundation of healthy local economies, a way to build family and community wealth, and to support community resiliency. Too often, economic development policy focuses exclusively on attracting multi-national corporations, which can come and go based on the best deals offered in a race to the bottom for the communities they move through. A healthy local economy has a role for large corporations and anchor institutions, but must also prioritize small businesses. I will promote policies that help develop local economies through the support and growth of small businesses, with a focus on creating wealth-building opportunities for people who have historically been excluded. Maryland should invest in training, shared-use infrastructure, access to credit, and access to markets for new and growing local businesses. Maryland business development strategies should seek to maximize local ownership and support the development of worker cooperatives. State procurement policies should prioritize locally owned businesses, those using sustainable practices, employing local workers, creating employment opportunities for people with limited opportunities, and paying living wages.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Charkoudian: I support an independent non-partisan commission for state districts and a national commission for congressional districts, to address the gerrymandering plaguing our system. In the absence of a national commission, I support Maryland working in a compact with a majority Republican state, with both agreeing to have an independent commission redraw their congressional districts.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Charkoudian: The LEOBR needs to be changed to better balance the needs of everyone in the community. For policing to be effective, law enforcement agencies must work collaboratively with the communities they are sworn to serve, in a mutually trusting relationship. Yet in too many Maryland communities, that trust is absent. I have been a leader and innovator in community-led policing efforts that give residents a voice in how policing happens in their communities. Community-led policing can be the key to creating a criminal justice system that reduces harm and increases justice, community safety and trust in the police. Maryland police agencies must make crime prevention and harm reduction a priority over arrest and incarceration. Law enforcement strategies should encourage partnerships and joint problem-solving between officers and the communities they are sworn to protect. All officers must receive training and tools they need to police safely and with as little force as possible. Maryland should develop and implement initiatives to bolster officer wellness and emotional well being, as well as the transparency and accountability measures that are necessary to achieve lasting police legitimacy.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Charkoudian: Our policies on drugs must shift from criminalization to a public health approach. This requires a radical shift in Maryland’s laws and our resource distribution. Several other countries and some local jurisdictions have demonstrated models for this shift. In Maryland, we have taken tiny steps in this direction, such as the development of Drug Courts, but we must shift our approach in a more comprehensive way. Most immediately, we need sufficient funding for detox in every community (many communities do not have any detox facilities) and sufficient in and outpatient treatment facilities to follow the detox. Treatment on demand must be available in every community.
Income inequality
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Charkoudian: Far too many Marylanders don’t know where their next meal will come from, and are living paycheck to paycheck, while the income and wealth gaps continue to widen. I will advocate for comprehensive legislation to build a just economy, which is the foundation that ensures working people can support their families’ futures. Economic justice includes fair pay, a $15 minimum wage, paid sick and family leave, worker protections, high quality healthcare, affordable housing, affordable childcare, and support for strong unions. State policy must support the worker training needed to advance in employment and enter new and promising industries. Maryland must also build more progressive tax policies.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Charkoudian: These laws need to always err on the side of more transparency. In addition to the Act, the General Assembly can do more to support transparency and accessibility of the decision-making process, including streaming committee meetings online.

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