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?
Douglass: Yes, I support the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education’s findings. I am committed to funding early childhood education, teacher quality and teacher preparation, integrated college and career pathways, school finance equity, and more resources for at-risk students, as recommended by the Commission. Certainly, adding the revenue from casino gaming to the State’s education budget will help to fund these initiatives. Voters must approve the Fix the Fund constitutional amendment in November, adding an estimated $500 million to the state’s budget for public schools.
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?
Douglass: All Marylanders should have access to public transportation. Urban residents need mass transit. Suburban residents need increased commuting options. Rural residents need public transit options to navigate daily needs. Toll lanes on high-volume roadways create revenue, but also increase car traffic. If Maryland creates toll lanes, they should also be designated for electric-powered busses in order to streamline and encourage public transportation. Widening major roadways is a short-term fix, in my view. Encouraging more cars on the roadways is not a sustainable path forward. The state needs to set aside money in the transportation budget to revamp public transit.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Douglass: Yes. The recreational marijuana industry stands to take in billions of dollars every year in the United States. Only nine states are taking advantage of the jobs and opportunities associated with that growth. Maryland should use the tax revenue made available from legalization to fund education initiatives and infrastructure needs.
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?
Douglass: We have made great strides in bringing back to health the Chesapeake and the Potomac. We cannot rest. Maintaining the health of these watersheds requires constant vigilance, especially in the wake of our current EPA administration. Maryland needs to commit to funding what the federal government won’t: namely the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Douglass: A lack of access is the root of health care challenges in Maryland. Every Marylander deserves access to affordable quality health care. Preventative care is more cost effective than the emergency care that results from lack of preventative care. Access to quality health care must also include access to affordable addiction rehabilitation. Legislators must oppose healthcare cuts and expand Medicare through a single-payer healthcare system.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Douglass: The state should support the training of police officers in de-escalation. The state should also subsidize programs that encourage young people to join the force in their own communities. Finally, fully funding education initiatives like early childhood education and community schools would provide much-needed resources to areas of concentrated poverty, which have been proven to reduce violent crime.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Douglass: With Amazon showing real interest in building another headquarters in Montgomery County, it seems as if big businesses are already encouraged in Maryland. The state needs to ensure that large corporations that operate here offer paid family leave, full-time employment opportunities, and good wages.
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?
Douglass: As a public school teacher, I know what it means to serve the public. As a public school teacher, I have encountered a handful of dangerous situations. Police Officers encounter dangerous situations while interacting with the public more often than most, and the protections granted to every citizen under the Bill of Rights in the Constitution should be the only Bill of Rights necessary.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Douglass: Expanding health care coverage should also include access to affordable addiction rehabilitation.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Douglass: Fully funding education is paramount. If the state of Maryland can reduce the opportunity gap through robust public education, it can also reduce income inequality by providing enhanced opportunities for the traditionally marginalized. I support legislation requiring equal pay regardless of race, sexual orientation, and gender.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?