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?
Bagnall: I support the findings of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. We have to take a long, hard look at who we want to be as a state, and to decide how we want to invest in the future of our children. I have long said we need to change the narrative which stigmatizes and devalues vocational education in lieu of college and instead we need to make an equal investment in both. I am also committed not only to universal early education but in arts integration at every stage of education. Additionally, we have to tackle the epidemic of poverty which is plaguing our students not only in the schools with universal pre-k and kindergarten and free lunch programs, but with broader state programs such as public transportation and affordable housing and child care, and community investment to deal with the root causes of poverty. We need comprehensive solutions which address the underlying causes of poverty and by addressing them on multiple fronts, we create access to multiple funding sources.
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?
Bagnall: For too long Maryland has failed its residents on public and mass transit. Many communities are inaccessible without a vehicle, many residences are isolated from each other, and many low income communities are disenfranchised in Maryland by a lack of public transportation options. Even with the expansion of BaltimoreLink which is a great improvement over our previous mass transit, Baltimore is still disconnected from Washington, DC, and Annapolis. Public transportation has a tremendous knock on effect not only for access to employment, but also to access to affordable housing and voting, and accounts for an improvement in quality of life for seniors, low income communities and youth ages 13-16 who do not have access to reliable transportation for employment or extracurricular activities. Public transportation also reduces traffic on roads and highways resulting in decreased commute times, lower incidences of accidents and reduced driver frustration.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Bagnall: It is difficult for me to turn my attentions to the legalization of recreational marijuana when we are still struggling in District 33 and Anne Arundel County to build the medical marijuana facilities which have been legally allowed since 2014, repeated denying children with epilepsy, youth, adults, and seniors suffering from chronic pain, cancer patients trying to thrive despite debilitating nausea caused by treatment access to medically prescribed marijuana. I am angry that we are talking about legalizing recreational marijuana throughout the state yet licensed medical marijuana facilities in our county cannot get variances to build in Anne Arundel County yet variances for development are offered at an unprecedented rate, including variances to allow permitting without public hearings on development 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?
Bagnall: Maryland needs to strengthen our multi-state coalition to ensure not only that they are committed to keeping the Chesapeake Bay on the path to restoration but also that we will be sharing resources to continue the advancement of the Chesapeake Bay. Additionally, we need to establish a Beautify the Bay initiative to renew pride and commitment in promoting the restoration of the Bay and to reward efforts and innovation for organizations and individuals who develop new technology and/or clean up efforts for the Chesapeake Bay.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Bagnall: I have been evaluating the multiple approaches to securing and shoring up the Health Exchange as well as the push for Single-Payer Health Care on both the local and national level. We have made advances with prescription drug price gouging legislation and the drug cost commission. However these are simply short term legislative extensions not long term solutions. I am a huge proponent of Medicare for All but I do believe it needs to begin on the federal level because without a federal mandate, states which cannot afford to establish single payer systems will be left behind. I feel it is the job of government, whether federal, state, or local to be an equalizer and innovator and Maryland needs to remain a leader however if we cannot solve this on the national level, we will have to work for a permanent solution at the local level.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Bagnall: I grew up in and around Baltimore during the time of the restoration of the Baltimore waterfront. The rise in crime, particularly violent crime in Baltimore is and should be a statewide concern. We need comprehensive solutions to address not only the level of violence but the root causes. The state needs to actively work towards ending the opioid crisis, domestic violence, systemic racism, and generational poverty which contribute to the rise of violent crime. Additionally we have to address the rising costs of housing, child care, health care and the additional effects of poverty which make success in the educational arena particularly challenging as well as the failure to shore up educational facilities and provide the resources necessary to thrive. Additionally we have to look at community, law enforcement partnerships which address the loss of confidence that many minority communities are suffering which puts both the community and law enforcement in jeopardy rendering de-escalation additionally challenging. The state has a great deal of power in establishing programs to deal with the multiple consequences of poverty and under-employment. Finally we have to work to attract small, locally grown businesses in Baltimore to ensure that there is adequate employment options for residents and that moeny stays in the community.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Bagnall: One of my great frustrations is the near constant narrative which says we are either pro-business or pro-family, because these are not mutually exclusive. We have to ensure not only that we are creating a business friendly environment with tax incentives and investment in industry but that we are creating a working family friendly environment by holding businesses accountable to the well-being of their employees, with adequate child care options, health and retirement benefits and equal pay for equal work.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Bagnall: One of the reasons I am proud to be a Marylander is that Maryland has been a leader on the national stage, in environmental protections, gun reforms, civil rights advocacy, so many have asked why I wasn’t a greater proponent of an anti-gerrymandering bill. I am a proponent of fair districts, and favor a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional maps, but if we want to be a national leader for fair districts, then we should want our case to make it to the Supreme Court, where we will lose, as we should, thus creating a precedent on the national stage. So yes, I support a creation of a non-partisan body, in preparation for the Supreme Court decision which will likely and hopefully call for fair, equal, non-partisan districts and I look forward to utilizing this independent body after each census.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Bagnall: I think it might be time to reevaluate the validity of the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights not necessarily because it isn’t adequate but because there is a serious loss of confidence in local law enforcement within communities throughout Maryland, particularly minority communities. Law Enforcement shouldn’t be vilified or hamstrung but it would be disingenuous to disregard the very real concerns of the divide between law enforcement and the community. It is time to create a coalition between law enforcement, state representatives and community leaders to reestablish a line of communication and change the language of the Bill of Rights to ensure not only the officers are protected but that communities feel protected as well.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Bagnall: There is no one right strategy to address the opioid crisis. We have to attack it on multiple fronts, from education programs at the elementary, middle and high school levels, to holding medical facilities accountable for the over-prescribing of drugs. We have to decriminalize drug use and work with incarcerated communities to establish a comprehensive program for treatment and release which encompasses not only drug treatment but practical concerns such as job placement, child care, and financial services so recent parolees aren’t incentivized to return to using. We need to create community schools and centers to offer education and activity options and we need to change the narrative to acknowledge that drug abusers come in all shapes, sizes, and economic strata.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Bagnall: We need comprehensive solutions to address income inequality. Maryland is a leader in many areas but we still have work to do. Legislative solutions, though important do not address the full impact of income inequality because it isn’t simply about the paycheck, it is about the bottom line. If we want to address income inequality, we need to look at the cost and access of childcare which disproportionately affects women, public transportation which addresses the issue of access to employment and other resources, affordable housing because too often people cannot afford to work where they live and live where they work, and incentives for diversity in hiring to create growth opportunities for minorities.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Bagnall: Transparency in government is a particularly frustrating issue within Anne Arundel county. Often it appears that private interests outweigh public access to information and to scrutiny. Having seen the frustration of our community who have been left on the wrong side of the door at what were meant to be open meetings, I do not feel these laws adequately ensure Marylander’s ability to exercise oversight, as we have seen multiple examples where public oversight was eliminated until the plans were drawn and the permits were signed.