2018 Maryland election results

Mary Washington

Mary Washington
  • Democrat
  • Age: 56
  • Residence: Baltimore

About Mary Washington


B.A. Antioch University M.A.; Ph.D. Sociology, The Johns Hopkins University, 1997


Delegate Mary Washington is dedicated to sensible, progressive policies that support the needs of her neighbors in Baltimore and Maryland’s diverse communities. She has spent over 20 years working for Maryland’s 43rd District as a legislator, advocate, and teacher of public policy. After college, Washington began her professional career teaching elementary school. Soon thereafter she earned her Ph.D. in sociology at Johns Hopkins University and began her academic career as a professor at Lehigh University, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Over the course of her professional career, she has used her skill at bringing together academic institutions, foundations, community-based civic, local and state government agencies, residents and business owners, and researchers in key positions. She has managed programs and complex relationships among public agencies and private stakeholders in Baltimore and the state of Maryland and negotiated effective solutions to real problems those stakeholders face. Currently, she is a member of the Part-time Faculty in the Department of Humanistic Studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Elected in 2010 to the House of Delegates, Washington serves as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Ending Homelessness and as a member of the Joint Committee on Children Youth and Families, the Regional Revitalization Task Force, and the Tax Credit Evaluation Committee. She served as Deputy Majority Whip in 2015-16 and on the Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Task Force in 2013-14. She is a member of Women Legislators of Maryland, the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland and an Associate Member of the Latino Legislative Caucus.


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?
Washington: As a member of the Ways and Means committee, I have been an outspoken education advocate and leader calling on the Governor and the General Assembly to immediately fund its preliminary findings. During this 2018 legislative session, we were able to make a “downpayment” on that work through a number of legislative and budgetary actions. The most significant of these reforms is the November referendum to phase-in a $500 million increase for Maryland Pre-K-12 education – a huge first step to eliminate the $2.9 billion funding shortage facing our public schools. I am committed to securing a new funding formula during the 2019 legislative session. The formula must address the disproportionate impacts of concentrated poverty, racial and ethnic disparities and housing instability on local schools systems across the state and especially in Baltimore City. It must also fix the problem the legislature began to address this session of phantom wealth created by Tax Increment Financings (TIFs). As a social scientist and demographer, I am well-positioned to help create a more equitable funding formula that will enable us to pay teachers like high-level professionals. From a policy perspective, I will continue to champion a community schools strategy that will allow public schools to serve as resources for everyone in high-needs communities. Additionally, I support universal Pre-K and early childhood education. These programs are among the highest-yielding investments we can make in a child’s development. Enrolling more low-income children in pre-kindergarten programs will help us get more from our education dollars.
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?
Washington: No, it is not appropriately balanced. The Baltimore area continues to be underserved by public transportation, leaving thousands of area residents who cannot afford a vehicle facing long and difficult commutes to reach job centers and finding it difficult to access basic services. The decision to cancel the Red Line was a terrible mistake. I will work with the next governor to try to reverse that decision. While the Baltimore Link system changes were heralded as bringing about improvements in service and connectivity, it has not brought about the integrated, effective public transit Baltimore area residences, businesses and institutions deserve. Currently, the Hogan Administration spends too much on projects to upgrade lightly-traveled roads in rural parts of the state and is planning to spend too much to add toll lanes and widen the Capital Beltway, I-270 and other expressways. We need to rebalance the equation by spending more to improve public transit, especially in metro Baltimore, and to make our streets friendly to cyclists, pedestrians and buses. While I support the plan to finance needed investments in the Washington-area Metro system, the Baltimore region faces even greater transit needs. We should be investing resources here in Baltimore to find ways to revive the Red Line or make other East-West travel improvements, better integrate our poorly connected bus, rail and subway lines and make bus service more reliable and more frequent in hard-pressed city neighborhoods.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
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?
Washington: To improve the health of the bay, we need to work harder to limit the expansion of pavement and impervious surfaces in urban and suburban areas and to make sure we deal with stormwater runoff more effectively – a problem that remains especially acute here in Baltimore, where dated sewer systems regularly cause toxic waste to spill into streams and the bay after hard rains. One important way we can make this happen is by working harder to make Smart Growth a reality that shapes development decisions in every county in the state. By encouraging development in existing communities, and discouraging sprawl, we can grow in ways that use the infrastructure we now have without adding huge new tracts of pavement and other impervious surfaces that will add to the runoff that degrades our Bay. We also need to make greater efforts to make sure that farmers and poultry producers in rural areas are actually implementing Best Management Practices. While standards for pollution run-off and waste treatment in urban areas are closely monitored, efforts to control agricultural pollution often face only intermittent checks. We will have to devote more resources and energy to auditing and verifying that those practices are being properly implemented. Establishing a manure exchange that would connect poultry producers and farmers with those who want to reuse manure for energy or other purposes is another good way we can limit toxic rural run-off and protect the Bay.
Health Care
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Washington: Ultimately, I support a single-payer system in Maryland. Single payer means everyone is in the health care system and no one is left out. It guarantees that everyone has access to care throughout his or her life, regardless of health status or pre-existing conditions. Over time, single-payer is also less expensive and more efficient than our current complex system of multiple public and private insurance systems – because it saves money on administrative costs, on large salaries and bureaucracies for competing insurance firms and enables the single health care system to negotiate fair prices for pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and hospital rates. Yet while we move in the direction of a true health care for all system, I know we also need to make efforts to improve our existing system by extending more health care coverage to more Marylanders and protecting residents against outrageous health care costs. I support, and was happy to vote for, the legislation we passed this session to shore buttress coverage under Obamacare – that’s an important way to protect Marylanders against the damage the Trump Administration has done, and may yet do, to our health care system. I strongly supported last year’s important legislation to stop prescription price-gouging and would be happy to support additional efforts to protect Marylanders against over-priced prescription drugs. I also support the idea of at least beginning to expand our Medicaid program to cover dental services for adults and expand eligibility to more low to middle-income adults.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Washington: Ensuring the public safety of our people and restoring their trust in law enforcement is one of the important challenges we face as a City. Too many of our residents and business owners live in fear of violent crime, which destroys families, blights communities and stalls private investment. We need to be smart and innovative on crime, not just “tough.” We need programs to prevent violent crime and attend to the needs of victims and survivors while addressing the socio-economic root causes of crime and preventing recidivism. Building strong relationships between the community and police where both constituencies feel respected, included, and safe is a good start. Making the right kind of public investments means more fully funding schools in distressed communities and funding a community schools model that will turn schools in high-poverty neighborhoods into resources for the whole community. It means more funding for Safe Streets, Community Mediation and other violence-interruption programs along with summer jobs, apprenticeships, recreation centers, and other critical supports. In order to restore trust in law enforcement, the state must also push the city to build a professional police force that protects and respects Baltimore residents. That means taking strong steps to investigate the abuses committed by those bad actors with a badge and to make sure the city implements the consent decree. We must implement reform by practicing community policing and increasing civilian oversight of police departments with independent civilian review boards with subpoena power.
Business Climate
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Washington: Maryland’s business climate is very strong. Because of our highly educated population, easy access to major transportation corridors, world-leading technology and healthcare industries, and relatively high wages (which give Marylanders strong buying power) Maryland is a state that is very attractive place to do business. We have been a very business-friendly state, offering tax incentives to large corporations. Yet being business-friendly does not have to mean being anti-employee. The right way to improve our business climate is not through a race to the bottom – by cutting taxes, regulations and public services – but by making smart investments in our people, our schools, and our infrastructure. We must strike a balance that supports families. Making sure Marylanders are well-educated, healthy, and well-paid also makes sure we have a productive, highly-skilled workforce with the resources to also be a very attractive consumer/business market. That helps create a healthy business climate as it enables families to live healthy, prosperous lives. We can improve our business climate – and create more good jobs – by building on our assets. We can expand support to local businesses through micro-enterprise or small business loans. We can build an even better-educated workforce by making college more affordable and eliminating tuition at community colleges. We can help young adults who aren’t college-bound build valuable job skills by providing more vocational education in high schools and funding apprenticeship and job-training programs. We can improve our transportation system by making new investments in rail and other public transportation.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Washington: Yes, I support the concept of a non-partisan, equitable and independent body and process to implement and make recommendations for decennial redistricting of congressional and legislative districts.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Washington: No, the LEOBR does not balance protections for police and the public appropriately. The reforms to that statute the legislature approved in 2016 have helped – especially by reducing the number of days police officers under investigation can avoid being questioned from 10 to five and increasing the time citizens have to file a complaint on a police officer that leads to an investigation from 90 days to one year. Yet we need to make further reforms to enable the community to exercise full and timely oversight of police conduct. Five days remains a very long time to allow a police officer accused of brutality or serious misconduct to be allowed to avoid being questioned while seeking legal counsel – a right no one else accused of serious misconduct enjoys. At the same time, the LEOBR rule that allows only sworn law enforcement officers to conduct an investigation of an officer that may lead to disciplinary action prevents civilian review boards from exercising meaningful oversight and remains a major barrier to civilians holding police accountable. Like everyone else, police officers deserve due process and fair treatment when accused of a crime or serious misconduct. But continuing to insulate them against being questioned in a timely way or being held accountable by civilian police review authorities undermines efforts to establish the kind of police accountability that will help rebuild trust between officers and the community they are supposed to serve and protect.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Washington: For many in Baltimore City, the opioid crisis is not new. For decades thousands have died each year, a rate that far exceeds that of the number of homicides in our communities. Increasingly, overdose is now the leading cause of death for people under 50 in Maryland. Addressing this “crisis” will require focus and frank dialogue about its root causes and a willingness not to engage policy solutions or political rhetoric that stigmatizes drug dependency, or propose tough-on-crime policies as our only solution. We must support policies to prevent overdose deaths. Those include funding distribution programs for naloxone (an opioid-overdose antidote); authorizing safe-consumption rooms that provide on-site care in the event of an overdose; and rapidly scaling up access to medication-assisted treatment, like methadone and buprenorphine. These are evidence-based interventions that are currently being ignored or underutilized. People who use drugs must be at the center of our response not filling our prisons. In terms of policing, our focus should be on supply chains and not on arresting and criminalizing addiction. We need to seize the drugs before they are distributed. Our state police should work in conjunction with the FBI to police the drug transportation corridors which are within their jurisdiction.
Income inequality
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Washington: The state can and must take strong steps to address poverty and inequality by bolstering wages, investing more fully in distressed communities, and ensuring women earn fair and adequate wages. Bolstering wages: I strongly support raising MD’s minimum wage to $15/hour and indexing it to inflation to protect its value. Because we know union representation helps people earn middle-class incomes, we must also protect union rights and make it easier for more Marylanders to organize and join unions. We also need to remove as many of the barriers that make it difficult for citizens returning from prison to find employment as possible so former felons and their families aren’t stuck in poverty. Community investment: We need to fully fund high-quality public schools and community schools in high-needs areas to give young people growing up in poverty the tools they need to enter the workforce. We need to invest in better public transportation to help people in high-poverty areas reach good job opportunities. We need to focus our public investments and housing support programs on investments that help build the value of property and businesses in distressed communities. Supporting working women: With poverty concentrated among women and female-led households, we need to make sure women earn equal pay for equal work, expand child care subsidies to give more working women access to affordable childcare and take other steps to ensure women earn adequate wages.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Washington: Transparency in government is one of my most important values. Currently, too much public business goes on behind closed doors and getting access to what takes place at many meetings of public agencies can often be too difficult. I have heard from many constituents that they have to submit multiple PIA requests before their receive any information. If we are to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people, we must conduct public business in a way that is accessible to the people. We must err on the side of making more information available under the umbrella of the state’s PIA and open meeting laws. While I strongly supported the 2015 reforms to Maryland’s Public Information Act, we can do more to speed up response time for information requests and to help make information available to those who find it difficult to pay for the cost of processing their requests. We also need to amend the PIA to let citizens and the media get more adequate information about how police departments handle abuse complaints. Under current rules, we can learn about the disposition of the complaint but often get very little information about what sort of investigation may have been conducted. I also believe our Open Meetings Act makes it too easy for agencies to effectively opt-out of its requirements by choosing to meet in Executive Session. We should examine ways to narrow their ability to close such meetings to the public and the press.

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