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?
Elfreth: Yes, I fully support the findings and recommendations of the Kirwan Commission. Every child deserves to have access to a high-quality public education. I am committed to expanding technical and career education to prepare kids for 21st century jobs, increasing teacher salaries to keep experience in our classrooms, and investing in universal pre-kindergarten. Strong schools are the foundation for strong and growing communities. We should examine all funding avenues available.
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?
Elfreth: District 30 is a bedroom community with a majority of workers commuting outside of the district every day, particularly to Baltimore City and Washington, DC, and currently, there are not enough reliable and clean methods of mass transportation available to District 30 residents. That results in increased pollution, traffic jams, and stymied economic opportunity; problems which could be reduced significantly through the implementation of improved public transit systems. I would support increased rapid transportation projects that better connect residents to job opportunities. Any increase in public transportation options are only as effective as the public’s level of awareness; thus, I would support legislation for funding public awareness campaigns to increase ridership.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Elfreth: I supported the legalization of medical marijuana, and I supported the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana. I believe we need to look at all the benefits and drawbacks that would accompany the full legalization of marijuana. Any study that looks at legalizing marijuana must examine the revenue that can be raised, the threats to public health, and any other societal impacts.
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?
Elfreth: The Chesapeake Bay is our greatest natural resource, our economic engine, and key to our way of life. Maryland has made tremendous progress in restoring and protecting the Bay over the last forty years, but overdevelopment, pollution, climate change, and sea level rise present significant threats that require local solutions. We must continue to promote the health and growth of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, further Maryland’s use of green energy sources, protect forests and critical areas, and incentivize best management practices for farms.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Elfreth: Access to affordable, quality healthcare is a fundamental right. Maryland has always been a leader on affordable, accessible, innovate healthcare, but we need to make sure our healthcare system works for all Marylanders. We must look at creating a Medicaid buy-in for all Maryland residents to help stabilize the health care marketplace. We can reduce health disparities, improve access to underserved communities, and build healthier communities by supporting innovative access to community-based healthcare. And we must expand home healthcare services that allow seniors to age in place.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Elfreth: Maryland has some of the strongest gun safety laws in the United States, but we must do more to guarantee that guns do not fall into the hands of dangerous individuals. We need to increase background checks before people are able to purchase firearms. But we can not only focus on the punishment side of crime. I am an active member of “Eastport Working Together” - a community group focused on job creation, youth intervention, and increasing education and public health services - which was formed as a response to increased violent crime in Annapolis. Addressing crime does not start or end with addressing public safety - it includes holistic approaches to systemic challenges facing our communities.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Elfreth: There is always more that we can do to make it easier for businesses to open and thrive in Maryland. One of the most important things we can do is make sure there is a trained workforce available for all businesses, from childcare centers to the maritime trades. I will support legislation to allow individuals to attend community college tuition-free, re-train workers who lose their jobs to automation and outsourcing, and to respond to the rapid changes in our economy.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Elfreth: We must have the highest standards for our law enforcement officers while simultaneously providing higher wages, better training, and easier access to necessary mental health services. More can be done to hold bad actors accountable so that they are not able to harm their colleagues’s ability to do their job safely and responsibly. I support the use of body cameras and further oversight of our police departments so that there is greater transparency to the communities they serve.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Elfreth: The opioid epidemic touches nearly every family in District 30. This isn’t a partisan issue, it’s a public health crisis. We must act now and rise to meet the challenge. We need to increase funding for residential treatment centers, invest in the continuum of care for those in recovery, and make it easier to report doctors who are over-prescribing opioids.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Elfreth: Public education is the great equalizer in our society. We have to ensure that every Maryland family has access to some form of higher education, whether that is a community college, technical school, or a four-year institution. We need to make it easier for parents to afford childcare so they are able to work and raise their families. I support raising Maryland’s minimum wage so that people who work full-time are able to support themselves and their family.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Elfreth: I believe that Maryland is ahead of the curve when it comes to ability of the general public to be involved in its government. But more must be done, I support live-video of floor proceedings in the Maryland General Assembly, as well as video access to committee voting sessions.