2018 Primary election results

Jennifer M. Brannan

Jennifer M. Brannan
  • Democrat
  • Age: 43
  • Residence: Frederick

About Jennifer M. Brannan

Education

I earned a B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, with a minor in English, from Cornell College. I received my Ph.D. in the Biomedical Sciences, with a concentration in Biochemistry and Cancer Biology, from the MD Anderson Cancer Center – UT Health Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. I completed my postdoctoral studies as a National Science Foundation – Defense Threat Reduction Agency fellow at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Background

For the past twenty years, I have worked as a scientist in industry, academia and government. I spent a year working for a food microbiological testing company, developing tests to enable food companies to test their products for the presence of food-borne pathogens. During graduate school, as part of my training, I worked as a graduate research assistant, conducting independent research on everything from electron microscopy of viruses to lung cancer. For the past 10 years, I have been at the U.S. Army Institute of Infectious Diseases, working my way up from postdoctoral research fellow to Senior Research Scientist. My work at USAMRIID has focused on disease models and treatments for viruses like Ebola virus, which caused the devastating outbreak in West Africa in 2014. I have also worked a number of other jobs throughout my life, often more than one at a time, in order to make ends meet and pay for school. I have delivered newspapers, pizzas and phone books. I have worked in fast food restaurants and piano bars, doing everything from taking orders to making food. I have worked in offices and warehouses. I even worked in a bingo hall! I understand what a hard day’s work is, and the importance of education in lifting people out of poverty.

Questionnaire

1
Kirwan
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?
Brannan: I support the findings of the Commission, and I am committed to implementing them, and fully funding education in Maryland. It is important to remember that money spent on education is not simply spent and gone. We provide public education because it is the right thing to do, but it is also true that every dollar spent on education provides a return on investment. The state can start by using the casino revenues to supplement education funding. This was addressed by the General Assembly with the Fix the Fund constitutional amendment. I support this amendment, and will work to gain approval for this amendment by voters in November 2018. I would further propose legislation to end Gov. Hogan’s BOOST program, and redirect that money to public education. Uncoupling Maryland’s estate tax rules from the federal government could also provide revenues for funding public education.
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2
Transportation
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?
Brannan: Despite being 18 years into the 21st century, our transportation system and planning are stuck in the past. Maryland should shift its focus to developing modern, mass transit solutions for the entire state. This will require working with our neighboring states and the federal government, and will not happen overnight. We need to elect leaders who will prioritize modernizing our transit and transportation. Maintaining the status quo is not an option. With regards to Baltimore, BaltimoreLink is a step in the right direction. However, Baltimore needs a modern, comprehensive transit system, such as has been proposed by Baltimore’s Transit Choices.
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3
Marijuana
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Brannan: Yes.
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4
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?
Brannan: The Chesapeake Bay is not only a natural treasure, but an economic driver for Maryland. I will focus on making sure Maryland meets milestones in the “Clean Water Blueprint,” including ensuring that we develop metrics to track new pollution arising from land development, and develop policies to offset such pollution. Programs that incentivize developers to include green infrastructure, such as impervious pavement and green roofs, can decrease the amount of stormwater carrying pollutants into the Bay and its tributaries. I also support requiring all newly installed septic systems to use best available technology (BAT).
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5
Health Care
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Brannan: I support single-payer health care, and taking steps to move Maryland in that direction. This will be a process, which will require careful thought and planning. Maryland, because of our current all-payer system, is ahead of the game. The cost-savings of a single payer system will be significant, but more information will need to be gathered to determine the best way to pay for setting up the system. However, beginning the process must be a priority for Maryland, and will be a priority of mine.
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6
Crime
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Brannan: The state can and should fund programs such as Roca, UMAR Boxing, the Rose Street Community Center and Safe Streets as part of an effort to increased investments in after-school programs, mentorship programs and job training across the state. We must also ensure that we are fully funding our police departments and crime labs.
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7
Business Climate
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Brannan: I appreciate the pairing of these two questions, as we often ask what we can do for business, but not what we can do for families. Families need a living wage, and we must pass an increased minimum wage in Maryland. Investing in career technology centers in schools, and developing comprehensive programs to funnel our young people to trades and community colleges, not simply four year colleges must be a component. Now is the time for Maryland to invest in green energy, and the jobs that will come along with that. Maryland’s business climate will improve along with these investments, as well as investments in modern transit and affordable housing.
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8
Redistricting
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Brannan: Yes.
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9
LEOBR
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Brannan: Several changes to the LEOBR would strengthen protections against police misconduct. Changes should include requiring all misconduct cases involving the public to go to a hearing board, and removing the barriers to fully implementing the reforms of 2016 that allowed for voting civilians on trial boards. Any allegation of police brutality should be investigated, regardless of when the incident occurred. Greater civilian involvement and transparency doesn’t just benefit civilians, but improves trust and communication with law enforcement.
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10
Opioids
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Brannan: I support the use of comprehensive user engagement sites and medication-assisted therapy. A comprehensive approach that includes education and prevention, combined with the best harm-reduction practices available, will be key to solving the opioid crisis.
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11
Income inequality
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Brannan: There are a number of steps we can take to address income inequality. First and foremost will be raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and indexing it to inflation. I support legislation mandating blind recruitment practices in government hiring in order to increase diversity in hiring, as well as preventing employers from asking about salary history during the hiring process. A major focus of my tenure, should I be elected, will be developing a paid family leave program, removing one of the barriers to women remaining in the workplace after having children.
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12
Transparency
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Brannan: Some changes could be considered, such as fee waivers to all the indigent to access records about themselves.
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