2018 Maryland election results

Dalya Attar

Dalya Attar
  • Democrat
  • Age: 28
  • Residence: Baltimore

About Dalya Attar


After attending community college, I graduated from the University of Baltimore and then from the University of Maryland School of Law.


Currently Assistant State’s Attorney. Previously did private sector legal work.


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?
Attar: Overall, I support the recommendations of the Kirwin Commission, which was a transparent and inclusive process, and provides a strong starting point for making serious change. Some of the recommendations have already begun to be initiated, via legislation recently passed. Universal pre-K is a key issue of my platform, and I also strongly support supplemental resources for schools based on poverty levels of students, as well as more help for special education students (an issue I have heard many local parents complain about since I started my campaign). And while I believe we must ensure that teachers are well-paid, and we provide sufficient incentives to recruit qualified, quality teachers, I want to better understand the Commission’s expectations for raising the status to equate teachers with professionals that require similar levels of education. Also, I am concerned about trying to compare other school systems (particularly outside the US) to Maryland’s, and even comparing within Maryland, in different jurisdictions. While we want a globally competitive school system, we have to compare apples to apples, taking into consideration relevant socio-economic factors. I have to review the Commission’s financial report when everything is released. I await their recommendations, but am apprehensive about imposing more mandates to fund the recommendations. I support the lock-box, using casino funds for education, but if that is not sufficient, we may have to support initiating recommendations on smaller scales that are fiscally feasible, before expanding them to reach their ultimate goals.
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?
Attar: I do not believe the state has the resources to meet its transportation needs, with demands to improve aging or failing infrastructure, while also needing funds to ease travel and transit for people going to school or work. However, with so many pressing needs that the state must fund, I believe we have to work within the budget available. As a Delegate, I would vote on transportation issues for around the state, but my priority concern will be working to get Baltimore adequate resources form the state for its transportation priorities. As someone who has relied upon public transportation to get to work, I know Baltimore is in desperate need of greater funding for this. We have an embarrassingly inadequate transit system for a major urban city and only adds to the understand ing of why the city is not attracting and recruiting families and businesses that can help rebuild the city. While I do believe funding should be directed to improve roads and highways, between congestion and environmental concerns, I want the state to vastly improve public transportation, creating more reliable, affordable, and faster transit options.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Attar: At this time, no. While I recognize that there is a significant portion of the population that supports it and wants it now, I have not seen sufficient research that convinces me that it will not adversely impact our communities. I believe we are heading in the direction of legalization, but there is a need for additional research before I can make a proper decision on recreational marijuana, particularly with concern for the danger of people operating vehicles under the influence. There is an abundance of concerns related to the responsibilities and recklessness of drivers today, and we need to better ascertain the impact of marijuana on judgment, reaction, and coordination for drivers. Many do not understand that marijuana use can be as dangerous and harmful as the influence of alcohol. We are just at the threshold of medical marijuana use, and I believe we need to move forward towards recreational use legalization with baby steps.
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?
Attar: The Bay impacts the entire state, including bay-related industries (i.e. crabs, tourism), our water, our wildlife, etc. Congressional activity can affect the Bay, and we must ensure that everything in the power of the state legislature protects the Bay, particularly if federal changes are made. Many of my district’s residents understand how cleaning up the Bay is important for the Baltimore Harbor, but do not understand the broader impacts beyond the shoreline. We must do more to educate Baltimore City residents on how their lifestyles and behavior can affect the Bay, and that “saving the Bay” is not just about what happens by the shoreline. Going forward, we must work to ensure that we do not miss deadlines imposed on clean up efforts. Also, next year Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan will be submitted. We must make sure it properly and thoroughly addresses the issues and provides solutions, and that recommendations will be implemented. While we have long-term programs in place, there are constant changes that demand ongoing reviews and monitoring. With potential cuts at the federal level, Maryland has to be prepared to find other avenues of funding or to alter priorities in environmental efforts. The legislature must address funding shortages based on reduced federal funding; for example, the recent Omnibus bill did not include funding for reef restoration in the Bay, which creates uncertainty in oyster restoration now. While there may be temporary funding from the Congressional discretionary funds, we need long-term funding solutions for the Bay.
Health Care
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Attar: We need to create solutions that are not from a band-aid approach of temporary fixes. I know how important affordable health care is, because after I was married and already a mom, at one point I didn’t have health insurance. I went to sleep at night in the winter fearful of a child getting sick and being unable to afford to take him to the doctor or buy him medicine. No Baltimore City family should be without health care, not because it lowers costs for everyone if healthy families are also on plans, but because it is safer and more protective for families to have the insurance. Just as car owners need to have car insurance, I believe health insurance is vital. However, owning a car is optional (if you cannot afford insurance, you do not buy a car), and we need to explore alternatives to the individual mandate, which most people I speak to are opposed to. And we must address access to treatment. For example, many needing mental health care are forced to outlay costs, and whose without funds available to pay up front (and get reimbursed later) do not get critical treatment. While we are combatting drug abuse over the long term, the health impacts must be addressed. That’s why, for example, I support programs like needle exchange, which will reduce hepatitis and other health problems, for users.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Attar: The 2 key roles the state should play are in enacting legislation and providing funding. It is critical to ensure that laws are passed that will penalize dangerous and violent criminals, gang members, and human traffickers. We must also ensure ensuring that the state sentencing guidelines for violent repeat offenders are sufficient. This past legislative session saw some good laws passed, and those efforts will need to continue in the next Session. Moreover, Baltimore City needs state funding, although the spending decisions should be made by Baltimore City politicians. With Baltimore City’s Mayor and the Council seemingly determined to attack the violence crime issue, I strongly believe we should give them a chance. However, should we see spikes in violent crime or ongoing high murder rates, I would potentially support using the National Guard to help provide added protection and security.
Business Climate
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Attar: Maryland’s business climate is improved and steadily improving. I believe that people have confidence in the business climate, and feel more secure at their jobs or that there will be alternative work opportunities in the near future. Most of the complaints include the need to continue to reduce regulations, ensure higher wages, and bring more jobs to the State. As a Delegate from Baltimore City, I will work to improve the business climate by pushing for more career and skills training, to offer a better workforce. We need to explore some of the work policies that increase productivity, such as maternal and paternal leave. And to ensure that while we work towards high wages, businesses don’t make human employees obsolete and replaced by machines, without retraining them for other work.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Attar: Absolutely.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Attar: Initially designed to protect law enforcement, today many believe that it overprotects them, at the expense of the public. For example, Maryland has had several scandals involving prison guards and staff, but the Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights impeded the investigations. And with continuing problems and scandals developing in police departments, the public needs confidence that they are not overlooked in these matters. The LEOBR should be adjusted to ensure that police and other law enforcement are not receiving special treatment, and at the same time ensure that those who violate the LEOBR are penalized, not rewarded as it may be perceived now.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Attar: 100 years ago, Baltimore lost around 3000 lives to the influenza pandemic, as the country faced a major crisis. They thought it was unstoppable, but they worked to stop it. We must have the same attitude towards the opioid crisis – leaving no stone unturned in the battle. We have to properly fund, treat and prevent addiction with a collaborative and united approach. At the prevention level, this includes both education to youth, rec centers and other activities that will work to divert them at the social level, as well as education to adults about the dangers of addiction following medical procedures. Prevention also includes legal action and great publicity against unscrupulous doctors and others who intentionally play a role in increasing addictions, as well as harsh penalties on street level drug dealers. At the treatment level, this includes needle exchange to prevent additional health risks; particular focus on inmates and those with mental health issues that lead to or increase opioid use; and funding for treatment centers (particularly in appropriate areas). I do believe we need more funding from the federal government. Ideally, while at the state level we must work to demand more funding from the federal government, and to ensure that proportionate funds are directed towards Baltimore City, I believe that the city officials and City Council should play a leading role in direct distribution of the funds to proper programming.
Income inequality
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Attar: While I think that much of the income inequality issues need to be addressed at the municipal level for Baltimore City (both in terms of prioritization in the distribution of funds as well as proper oversight and accountability of the spending), at the state level we can ensure that there is sufficient funding for programs that can give lower income families greater opportunities. For almost a year, I have been calling for universal pre-K and free community college tuition, and I was pleased to see that legislation did pass on these issues; there is somewhat of a start on this, even if it is not to the full degree needed. I was also pleased to see funding this year to provide more child care in Baltimore City, so mothers (and particularly single mothers) can have greater ability to work. Other proposals and legislation to provide stronger education and skills training, including more funding towards schools in areas with higher poverty rates as well as training for careers to provide greater work opportunities, will make a difference as well. There is a lot more that needs to be done, and it is concerning that much legislation to address income inequality was done in an election year. Baltimore City cannot wait another four years for its representatives to focus on additional income inequality issues.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Attar: I do not believe that Maryland properly provides its citizens with the ability to exercise oversight of the government, nor do I believe that most legislators are genuine in wanting to improve transparency in Maryland. The recent activities by the Maryland legislature to determine things in back, smoke-filled rooms without access for the public demonstrates some of the transparency issues in Maryland that are not favorable to the public. And considering that Maryland in 2018 is one of a few states lacking live stream video of the General Assembly, this also prevents the public from proper oversight and fair access to the workings and activities of the government. It should be very simple: the government is here to work for the public - we pay their salaries, and in some cases we elect them. The arrogance in believing that they do not have to give us access, the ongoing closed-door meetings held at local and state governmental levels, and the inability of Marylanders to know what their government officials are doing is a problem that is concerning and must be changed.

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