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?
Cooke: I would need to research this but am committed to improving the public schools. Rural areas may need additional funds than are presently available. I eagerly await the findings of the Kirwin Commission. There should be focus on pre-school where fewer than half of students are “ready” for kindergarten. Parents could improve their child’s outcome by reading to their child, encouraging their natural curiosity, monitoring social interaction, and challenging them with simple numerical tasks.
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?
Cooke: Moving the majority of transportation funds from roads to mass transit as was done in the mid 2000s severely crippled local governments which experienced cuts of up to 90%. Rural areas, such as the Eastern Shore, depended on these funds to maintain roads and they received no benefit as mass transportation is non-existent. So the answer is no. Spending is not balanced. I am not sure about Baltimore’s mass transit issue but would support Gov. Hogan.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
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?
Cooke: I am confident that the federal government will return to its prior level of support. This a temporary setback.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Cooke: Maryland is in pretty good shape.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Cooke: Baltimore needs to address the issues that produce its criminals. It is the primary responsibility of the citizens of Baltimore and the officials they elect. The state can provide some temporary funds to support a plan generated by the Baltimore City Council.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Cooke: We are moving in the right direction by following the lead of the governor. Already, they are making it easier to start businesses with their new integrated website. The best thing Marylanders can do is to re-elect Gov. Hogan.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Cooke: Absolutely! I am running to defeat a democrat in a district gerrymandered for the democrats. Again, this is an initiative of Gov. Hogan and we need to implement it.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Cooke: I am going defer on this as I would need to research.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Cooke: I agree with the efforts now being put in place.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Cooke: In a society based on capitalism, there is always going to be inequality. Accept that premise. If you want to move up, there are many opportunities here in America that are not available in most of the rest of the world. Be thankful you live here and are not blocked from advancement. We are certainly out of balance by traditional measures and we need to move the lower end up a bit and the upper end down a bit. However, we don’t need to be a socialist country like many in Europe. We can return to a more even distribution of wealth as was the case in the 1950s.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Cooke: It works despite the fact that the agency charged with its implementation has no real enforcement power. A finding of fault picked up by the press is enough to correct most cases. As a former elected official, I know that officials do pay attention, even in the most remote areas. Someone is always watching.