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?
Guyton: I enthusiastically support the recommendations presented in the preliminary report of the Kirwin Commission and will support measures necessary to fund them when the funding formula is revealed. Common sense reforms included in the report such as universal access to high quality Pre-K programs for 4 year-olds and targeted programs for at-risk 3 year-olds, increasing teacher salaries to recruit and retain high quality educators in Maryland, increasing the number and options of Career Technology Pathways and more comprehensive supports of our underperforming schools are moral, social and economic investments in our future as a state with proven returns. I do believe that significantly more funding will be necessary to implement the suggestions of the Kirwin report. Certainly, appropriate funding revenues from gaming proceeds that will augment rather than supplant the educational budget are a start. Other ideas may include an increase in sin taxes including tax revenue from marijuana in the event of legalization and impact fees on developers. I also believe that fulfilling the promise of better public schools should be prioritized over support of private schools. I have spent most of my adult life fighting for better public schools for ALL students and will continue to have that as my primary objective in Annapolis.
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?
Guyton: Baltimore and its suburbs need an expansion of faster, safer and more frequent public transportation options. I would support funding the Red line and other mass transit opportunities to help Baltimore compete for job opportunities with other similarly sized cities. Better public transit would also help reduce emissions in the cities where many children suffer from asthma and other respiratory and health problems. This is not only a public safety concern but an economic and environmental one as well. The Baltimore CityLink bus program does not seem to have adequately solved the mass transit problems in the city as promised.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Guyton: I do support the legalization of recreational marijuana. I believe that regulation and taxation of marijuana may help solve some of our crime issues, produce revenue for important priorities and provide a new industry for our workforce and farmers. As a psychologist, I am convinced that the public health concerns of marijuana pale in contract to the long term social and economic effects of tobacco and alcohol addiction.
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?
Guyton: The most serious threats to our state environment are directly related to the repeals of regulation and under funding of monitoring designed to protect our environment at the federal level. However, I strongly believe that it is possible for action at the state level to mitigate some of these effects and I would strive to actively do so as a Maryland State Delegate. A healthy Chesapeake Bay is essential to the identity, economic growth and recreational activities of our state. In particular, I would support efforts to keep our water clean and control development along waterways and in soil sensitive areas. I would promote rural land preservation programs and require adequate forest buffers and better monitoring of nutrient management systems to keep nutrients from the Bay. I would fiercely oppose any efforts to drill for oil along our coastline. I believe that we can further mitigate agricultural and developmental impact on the Bay by imposing impact fees on new development and limiting development in sensitive areas. Working with the extension service to help farmers limit fertilizer and pesticide run off and to limit pesticide use through risk/benefit analysis is also important, as is training in sustainable practices. Regulations for the storage of manure from poultry farms should also be a legislative concern. Cleaning up the inner harbor with trash wheels is a good start but a ban on plastic bags and Styrofoam in the city would have an immediate impact on overall pollution in the city that affects the Bay.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Guyton: Access to high quality health care including reproductive and mental health care is a basic human right. We fail to protect our citizens if their basic health care needs are neglected. Lost wages, job immobility, and lack of preventative care take an economic toll. In the short-term we must reinvigorate the ACA to ensure no lapse in coverage. Eventually we need to move toward a single payer system to provide essential care and negotiate with insurance and pharmaceutical companies to get the most economical plans for our state while reducing paperwork of health care professionals. A multi-state consortium may make the market size more financially viable. Private insurance may still play a role to augment coverage in situations which involve “quality of life” issues.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Guyton: My work in early intervention with families in crisis has convinced me that preventing violent crime starts with supporting families and providing for the child care, health care and educational needs of our most vulnerable citizens. We need to ensure a living wage and ample job training programs to reduce familial stress and engage with communities to encourage networks of neighborhood organizations and better relationships with law enforcement. It is impossible to address violent crime, however, without common sense gun control measures and increased access to mental health and evidenced-based drug treatment programs. We are confronted with a generation of children who have literally had their brain functioning altered because of exposure to violence and poverty. Systemic racism and income inequality make this issue challenging but I believe that change is not only possible, it is morally obligatory and in the best interest of all of us.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Guyton: Maryland should continue to invest in training and re-training programs for our workforce, pass a minimum living wage of $15 an hour with future indexed increases, help encourage worker productivity with better childcare and leave policies and expanded public transit. CTE and PTECH expansion within the public education system should continue to be a priority to ensure that Maryland public school graduates are prepared to enter the workforce and contribute meaningfully to their communities.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Guyton: Yes, I do support a non-partisan committee to redraw our district maps after each census. Gerrymandering is an unfair process that strips citizens of their constitutional right of representation.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Guyton: Certainly, there are “bad cops” just as there are negligent or abusive workers in any other professional field and these should be weeded out and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Law enforcement officers face stresses every day that most of us can only imagine and are engaged in activity that is going to naturally lead to a high number of inquiries. For that reason I do believe that the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights is important for internal investigations, with the caveat that the public should be allowed access to the proceedings, though not necessarily serve on decision-making panels. In addition, officers should be given the advanced training that they need to make swift, safe decisions in high stakes situations. I would support significantly more professional development in deescalation, systemic racism, and disability awareness and the effects of early trauma. Officers should retain body cameras and have more intensive training in use of force decision-making. The state should also provide enhanced mental health and general wellness supports for officers and their families.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Guyton: The opiod crisis must be addressed with a two-pronged approach. First we must deal with the vast numbers of Marylanders already struggling with opioid addiction. As an emergent public health measure, we need to actively promote widespread distribution of Naloxone much in the way that knowledge of CPR and the distribution of defibrillators have been employed to reduce cardiac death. The state should adequately fund evidence-based treatment programs and this care, in addition to mental health care, should be considered an essential health care need. This includes narcotic replacement therapy which has been demonstrated to be effective in controlled trials. Addiction treatment must be more accessible than opiods obtained either on the streets or by prescription. Second, we must aggressively prevent new cases of addiction. While the number of narcotic prescriptions in the US has fallen since 2010, we remain the world leader in prescription narcotic use. The CDC has made a strong statement on the issue with new narcotic prescription guidelines. We must support physicians in limiting overall narcotic use. This includes encouraging alternative methods of managing chronic pain and addressing those aspects of the physician/patient relationship that provide pressure to prescribe more heavily.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Guyton: To ensure income equality we must close the achievement gaps in our public schools between students of different races, disability statuses and economic situations. Early intervention and screening programs for low income and at-risk children and Universal Pre-K will be a first step. Supporting a living wage and access to high quality child care and health care, in addition to ample job training programs will strengthen families and communities. Promoting businesses in poverty stricken communities and subsidizing access to quality services, arts, and recreational activities are also important steps towards rejuvenating neighborhoods and reducing inequalities.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Guyton: The public has the right and responsibility to know how and why decisions are being made and how their tax money is being spent. I support the Open Meetings Act but would like to see a higher level of transparency, accessibility, and accountability of policy and law makers to the public. Too often decision makers are not adequately responsive to their constituents. In this era of technology, there is no excuse for limited communication to or from state government. As State Delegate, I feel that my experiences on both sides of this issue, as a parent and advocate and a policy maker, will certainly inform this discussion and I will strive to be as responsive as possible to my constituents.