Richard Douglas

  • Republican
  • Age: 61
  • Residence: College Park

About Richard Douglas

Education

I am the son of a retired teacher, and attended public schools for all but one year of my education through my bachelor’s degree. I am a graduate of the University of South Florida and American University, where I earned law and masters degrees with the help of the GI Bill.

Background

I have been in Maryland 36 years, and count DeMatha, Seton, Georgetown Prep, Holy Child, UMD, Duke, and Prince George’s Community College alums among my children. I use a Maryland law license to make a living, for pro bono migrant and expungement projects, and for defense of the Bladensburg War Memorial Peace Cross. I was a volunteer lay chaplain at the DC jail for years, and today I volunteer for the Port of Baltimore’s mission to seafarers. I served in the Navy in Iraq and submarines, and in the Foreign Service in Mexico and Spain, where I learned to speak Spanish fluently. DEA and the National Guard recognized my work as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counter-narcotics. Five years as a U.S. Senate lawyer taught me that, with proper leadership, a legislature can work effectively for things that matter.

    Questionnaire

    1
    Kirwan
    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?
    Douglas: The Kirwan Commission itself has not yet reached consensus on how to oversee its own recommendations. There is consensus, however, around one point: keeping the Maryland General Assembly out of the implementation process. This is no surprise since, today, the General Assembly’s top priorities are marijuana and attacks on the media (e.g. SB 875), not innovation or excellence in education. The General Assembly should advocate much harder for schools than it does for marijuana. In the House of Delegates, I will support all sensible and affordable efforts to foster and fund innovation and excellence (not ideology) in education. Prince George’s County has endured much in recent years because of a lack of both. Kirwan is a good start. But only the voters can remove the greatest obstacle to lasting improvement in the quality of Maryland education: an unserious General Assembly that can’t keep its eye on the ball.
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    2
    Transportation
    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?
    Douglas: In Maryland, the transportation infrastructure resource “pie” is too small. How do we enlarge it? Here is a place to start: working better with the federal government to take full advantage of the federal transportation funding stream; increasing Maryland revenues by making our state more attractive to investment and job-creation of all kinds; and eliminating self-inflicted factors aggravating congestion on area roadways. No responsible Maryland legislator could oppose expansion of I-95, I-495, I-270, I-695, the BW Parkway, etc. Our region is of critical importance to transportation east of the Mississippi because of a unique convergence of road, rail, and shipping. Baltimore is the westernmost U.S. Atlantic coast port. Because of the importance of local highways to Atlantic seaboard transport, expansion of these arteries is vital. I would include improvements to U.S. Route 1 as well as Maryland Routes 201, 2, 4, 5 and 10 on my own priority list. Another transportation concept that could reduce I-95 congestion in our region is generally overlooked: short-sea shipping. The most recent report I can find on the subject, commissioned in 2013 by the Maryland Port Administration and other regional authorities, was silent on Sparrows Point, where, today, Tradepoint Atlantic is leading a logistics renaissance (EAST COAST MARINE HIGHWAY INITIATIVE M-95 STUDY, FINAL REPORT, October 2013). In Virginia, private enterprise has established a short sea shipping tug/barge service from Hampton Roads on the James River. I believe this service demonstrates how local waterways ought to be leveraged to reduce road congestion.
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    3
    Marijuana
    Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
    Douglas: No. I oppose legalization and/or “decriminalization” of marijuana. If elected to the General Assembly, I will do my utmost to prevent it.
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    4
    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?
    Douglas: Since age 10, I have fished and crabbed Chesapeake Bay, and no District 21 candidate has greater affection for the Bay than I do. But if the federal government’s commitment to Chesapeake Bay restoration is questionable, there are at least two root causes: first, the Maryland General Assembly’s embarrassing failure to hold Maryland’s lackluster U.S. congressional delegation accountable; and second, Maryland’s costly political war on the White House. If elected, I will work to reverse both. I will also work to shed greater light on the human cost of Bay restoration to Baltimore City, where the stormwater/sewage Consent Decree, the Rain Tax, and skyrocketing water bills have forced hundreds of elderly and low income residents into Tax Sale. This crisis – on the order of a slow-motion Flint – has been ignored by Maryland’s U.S. congressional representation, with the General Assembly’s silent assent.
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    5
    Health Care
    What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
    Douglas: The most important step Maryland could take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care would be an all out legislative effort to make Maryland a magnet to industrial development and job creation. A fully-employed workforce will have greater access to affordable health care. Our state has the geographic and human capital to accomplish this but it lacks the political will. Changing the General Assembly guard is critical.
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    6
    Crime
    What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
    Douglas: Five steps the Maryland General Assembly should take:

    1. See reply to question 7;
    2. stop sending mixed messages about the use of marijuana and other controlled substances;
    3. enact legislation to make illegal possession of a firearm a felony, and establish minimum mandatory jail terms for first and later offenses;
    4. place legislative limits on prosecutor use of nolle prosequi, the stet docket, and probation before judgment dispositions in Maryland criminal proceedings involving illegal possession of firearms;
    5. stop the legislative war on Baltimore City police.
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    7
    Business Climate
    How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
    Douglas: Maryland has the geographic and human capital to compete with and even overtake the most competitive jurisdictions in the United States. But Maryland General Assembly incumbents lack the will to make it happen. To supercharge job growth in our state, we must clean house in the General Assembly. In job growth and economic development, Maryland is held back by a General Assembly dominated by ideologues who are seemingly indifferent, if not openly hostile, to making economic growth a reality by reducing taxation on businesses and individuals and removing other barriers to investment. The Maryland General Assembly’s scandalous failure to take serious steps to make Maryland more competitive has concretely harmed our people. If elected to the House of Delegates my highest priority will be reversing the damage.
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    8
    Redistricting
    Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
    Douglas: Yes.
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    9
    LEOBR
    Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
    Douglas: The LEOBR is needed now more than ever. With foolish initiatives like the “sanctuary” movement in Maryland and efforts to legalize harmful drugs, Maryland’s Thin Blue Line has become even thinner. Too many incumbents in the Maryland General Assembly have demonstrated an animus toward policing that directly contributes to public insecurity. I have never been a police officer. But as an armed forces veteran with Cold War and Iraq service, I have experienced personally the discouragement men and women in uniform feel when they perceive a lack of support from their legislatures and elected leaders. Police officers in Baltimore City and other Maryland locales would be justified in feeling such discouragement today. Sworn officers who carry firearms and a badge must be held accountable for misconduct when it occurs. But failures in Maryland policing during recent years have also been failures of civilian elected officials. If elected to the Maryland General Assembly, I will resist any effort to hold the police responsible for such failures. I will also swiftly and forcefully call out members of the Maryland General Assembly who attack the police for political purposes.
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    10
    Opioids
    What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?

    Douglas: Among other things, the Maryland General Assembly should:

    1. hold Maryland’s lackluster U.S. congressional delegation directly accountable for ensuring maximum federal treatment resources for Maryland, and the closest possible federal law enforcement cooperation with state officials;

    2. enact heavy mandatory minimum sentences for traffickers;

    On a broader front:

    1. stop sending mixed messages to citizens about the use of controlled substances;

    2. to ensure full federal-state law enforcement cooperation, defund and end the Maryland Attorney General’s political war on the federal government;

    3. ensure that Maryland National Guard units are fully engaged in lawful counter-narcotics operations on the U.S.-Mexico border as required.

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    11
    Income inequality
    What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
    Douglas: See answers to question 7, above.
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    12
    Transparency
    Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
    Douglas: My personal and professional experience with the MPIA and federal statutes like FOIA and the Privacy Act leads me to conclude that government uses these statutes to obstruct access to information rather than facilitate it. A massive MPIA docket sends two messages: a state agency is probably over-classifying information, and the agency concerned is probably in need of closer scrutiny. With a fully-engaged General Assembly more concerned about transparency than marijuana or hamstringing the press (SB 875), legislative solutions and oversight would address both problems.
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