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?
Mathias: Yes, I agree with the findings of the Kirwan Commission. I firmly consider public education policy and the necessary funding for our children’s future is a top priority, as well as the commission’s goal of making our education system competitive in the global market. Before we commit to final policy recommendations, we’ll have to look at the different funding sources with the condition OF our state budget and economy at that time.
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?
Mathias: I’m a solid and proven supporter of mass transit, however I represent a rural district in the Lower Eastern Shore so I strongly support roads and transportation infrastructure in rural areas, as well as urban and suburban areas of our state. I’ve always advocated for the increased use of mass transit, and seeking efficient usage of all modes of transportation.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Mathias: I look forward to addressing this issue as it comes up in the legislature, and I will continue to support medical marijuana in our state, particularly in stabilizing and growing it. This past session, I voted for the granting of additional medical marijuana licenses for the purposes of gender and ethnic balance within that new industry. As the debate over recreational marijuana continues, I look forward to hearing from both sides of the issue. I will keep an open mind on a statewide referendum on the issue, so that the people of Maryland may decide for themselves.
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?
Mathias: My record of public service in local government as an Ocean City council member and mayor, and in the state house and senate, reflect strong action in protecting the Chesapeake and Atlantic coastal bays’ health and future. This year I sponsored legislation to hold oil companies strictly liable for any damages they may cause in the event of an oil spill, as well as legislation calling on the federal government not to allow the coast off of Maryland to be used for drilling. Given lessons learn from the development boom of the early 2000’s, as well as the strong, respected, and effective dialogue I’ve established with the agricultural, commercial watermen industries, and other stakeholders. I believe establishing effective policy is vital in protecting the legacy of our state and the Eastern Shore, I believe policy to protect our bays (and the industries that depend on them) is an achievable goal. With regard to the public financing to protect our priceless waterways, I will continue to strongly urge all members of our federal delegation to make certain that the Executive and Legislative Branches of our government, their budgeting and policy matters maintain their partnership role in protecting the national treasure that is the Chesapeake watershed area.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Mathias: I’ve worked with Governor Hogan and our partners in healthcare to stabilize Maryland’s healthcare market and stop rising rates this year. In prior session, I passed legislation to expand access to telemedicine, and I continue to support medicare expansion. I also proudly co-sponsored the Rural Health Collaborative Pilot program. While it is important to expand access to healthcare to ensure a healthier Maryland, I am committed to not raising taxes.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Mathias: I was born in Baltimore, it pains me everyday to see the crime not improve at the rate it should be in my hometown. The State of Maryland should continue to assist the City of Baltimore with resources to ensure that the people of Charm City have the access they need to the funding, quality schools, job opportunities, and redevelopment they need to reduce crime to demonstrate that Maryland is a full partner to Baltimore, as well to all areas rural and urban of our state in need of the full resources to reduce high crime rates.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Mathias: Our business climate is good, but it still has room for improvement. My family & I came to Ocean City to start a small vending machine business, which we still operate over 40 years later. As one who been a small business owner nearly all of my adult life, I know the struggles of small business owner in Maryland, and I hear from other small business owners across the Lower Eastern Shore and the state everyday. That’s why I strive to advocate for small and medium business, including by reducing their tax burden and incentivizing them to create jobs in the jobs deserts that exist in our state. I’ve continued to be a part of improving our business climate by supporting local expansions of Northrop-Grumman, Marriott, and attracting Amazon, for their investment in more Maryland job growth.
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?
Mathias: Public safety has always been a top priority. Having served on the police commission, I want to ensure our law enforcement officers have adequate protection for themselves. Increased success in recruiting quality and community-minded new officers is dependent on many issues, including competitive pay compensation, work environment, benefits, and knowing that their rights are protected as well. I will continue to support policies that provide access and transparency, such as body cameras, and dissemination of public information to the appropriate parties that represent the rights and safety of our citizens as well.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Mathias: We have seen too many citizens fall victim to this crisis across the state and nation. That is why I passionate advocate for integrated behavioral health in addressing (depression, poverty etc) that lead to substance abuse, and supported the prescription drug monitoring program and the Governor’s $500 million (that seems really high?) appropriation to battle this epidemic. I also supported legislation this session to require doctors to have a conversation with their patients about the addictive nature of prescription opioids. I will continue to support bills and measures that address this issue in our schools through policies and programs, the Narcan program and accessibility to it, and stronger support for recovery facilities and counselors. But we also need to support law enforcement and increased prosecution and punishments against kingpins and drug dealers, particularly any association with violence and guns as dealers of opioids.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Mathias: I want to see a plan for aggressively identifying the forensics causes of the income inequality our lower income and impoverished citizens throughout Maryland, in a manner comparable to the Kirwan Commission in identifying how to improve our education system. Once these dynamics are identified, then target for specific policy solutions that incentivize business and private/public partnerships designed to align opportunities to pair these individuals with economic opportunities. This year, I sponsored and co-sponsored several bills to make community college more affordable, and to provide equipment to schools needed for job certifications.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Mathias: I have a strong record of voting for increased transparency, disclosure, ethics, throughout my years of public service. Engaging our citizens, affording them the opportunity to participate and gain the public information is central to good government, and the people’s trust in their elected servants. However, there is always more we can do to ensure that Maryland state government is open and accessible to the people we blessed to represent.