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?
Drozd: As an experienced educator, I am generally supportive of the Commission’s recommendations. As a conservative, I am wary of vague funding proposals without accompanying objectives and measures of performance. I found numerous flaws within the preliminary report, but am still working my way through the cited sources, which may resolve my concerns. I would take the recommendations a step further to create a new Maryland Student-Parent-Teacher Covenant that drives excellence in education, gives deference to parental values and authorities, elevates the role of educators, and promotes mutual respect between and among all three participants. As for funding, the State’s gaming revenues - provided Democrats do not siphon them all away for ideologically-driven pork like scholarships for illegal aliens - provides a ready starting point. In addition, the business growth throughout the State - championed by Governor Hogan - that expands the tax base is always the underpinning necessary to resource innovation.
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?
Drozd: The balance should be less about spending and more about region-appropriate types of infrastructure. I am concerned western Maryland’s transportation needs are not being met or represented. Over-emphasis on funding public transportation projects is not necessarily the right solution set for Marylanders who live well-outside the I-95 corridor. As a METRO commuter myself, I am acutely aware of the negative toll being limited to public transportation takes on family quality-of-life. As to Baltimore-specific concerns, my focus has been the transportation concerns of the constituents of northern Montgomery County, and I have not met with Baltimore officials.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Drozd: I am an evidence-driven individual. While I have opposed drug use - including marijuana - throughout my life, I accept societal views are shifting. For me to support the legalization of recreational marijuana, the following would need to be in place: - FDA studies certifying marijuana to be no less healthy or safe, both short and long term, than tobacco or alcohol - Laws in place to address public consumption & impairment comparable to those for alcohol (e.g., DUI, public “intoxication,” etc.) - Policies that prevent marijuana use from impeding the rights of non-users (e.g., designated smoking/no-smoking areas, prevention of second-hand effects, etc.)
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?
Drozd: I am currently reading Maryland Sea Grant’s report on the impact of sea level rise on the Chesapeake, “Come High Water,” and believe strategic planning must begin today to mitigate the effects of sea rise. All efforts we take today to continue Chesapeake Bay restoration will be for nought if sea level rise, coastal erosion, etc. re-injects pollutants into the Bay. I am a strategic planner by military background, and my focus will be long-term sustainability in a time of climate change, depending at all times on experts in the field to guide that planning.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Drozd: The recent bipartisan effort from Annapolis to aid Marylanders struggling to meet rising health care premiums should be applauded. However, such efforts will never be enough if costs are not also controlled. Maryland should lead the way in conducting a comprehensive cost analysis that could underpin legislative efforts to begin to address the costs that actually drive health care to be unaffordable and difficult to access.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Drozd: The State must partner with the city of Baltimore to find solutions, and then assist with resourcing those solutions. Governor Hogan has been a strong advocate for doing so. Beyond that, I am not prepared to offer more without consulting law enforcement experts.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Drozd: Maryland’s business climate has grown demonstrably better over the past four years, growing from within and attracting new businesses from outside the state. Under Governor Hogan, we turned the state around. There remain some pockets, such as Montgomery County, experiencing difficulty attracting and growing new businesses - and even losing some. Our efforts to improve transportation infrastructure, education, and other quality of life issues are attractive to both business owners and employees’ families. We can go further by working to lower the cost of living in this region by fighting to lower taxes and to promote our small businesses to grow by further reducing regulatory burdens. Such efforts are the hallmark of Republicans, and are not generally pursued by Democrats.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Drozd: YES! I fully endorse the Marlyand Commission on Redistricting Reform recommendations, as has Governor Hogan. Ending gerrymandering is the primary reason I entered the race. Redrawing districts following each census is an obligation of the State in its responsibility to promote and maintain fair representation by accounting for population shifts. Unfortunately, Maryland Democrats treated the effort like a spoil of war, redrawing districts based not on population shifts, but likely voting preferences. As a voter and a citizen, that angers me. I oppose gerrymandering regardless of party at fault. I reject the effort of my opponent, Mr. Zucker, to protect the status quo by authoring a bill he knew would not go anywhere and which only serves his party’s national interests to keep Maryland blue over fair representation for Marylanders. I reject the efforts admitted to by former Governor O’Malley to draw districts for the purpose of improving Democrats chances of winning another House seat. Think about this: Mr. Delaney, should he be successful in his Presidential bid, will owe his rise to prominence in the public eye directly and exclusively to unethical gerrymandering. Maryland is far more “purple” than it is blue or red.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Drozd: I have not yet reviewed the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, so I must withhold judgment.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Drozd: Strategically, we need to focus on the sources of opioid promotion and stronger methods for abuse prevention and detection. Tactically, we should consider stricter controls on availability and un-monitored use. I am encouraged by the Governor’s efforts to elevate this issue and look forward to supporting recommendations that comes from those efforts.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Drozd: I fully support free-market capitalism, which will always result in some level of income inequality. Recognizing that Governments have never demonstrated the ability to effectively manage tax dollars over the long-term, and that society has rightly assumed an obligation to provide a safety net for those unable to effectively compete in the market place to escape poverty, our focus should be programs that emphasize catch-and-release whenever possible. In paraphrasing Lincoln, I do not believe we should seek to raise up a people by tearing down those who succeed. Therefore, the State should not vilify those who have succeeded. Rather, they should be incentivized by the State to willingly provide greater support through the private sector to help those still rising.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Drozd: Only insofar as our elected officials respect and adhere to both the letter and spirit of the laws. Recent Democrat leadership meetings and votes taken during the legislative session behind closed doors, and efforts to reduce transparency demonstrate a lack of respect and deference to Marylanders. In this light, the laws do need to be strengthened to ensure greater transparency. However, doing so is not in the political interests of the dominant party. Such actions will only be corrected by changing the people we send to Annapolis in November.