Since the launch of my campaign for Maryland State Senate in July, 2017, I’ve been honored to ask thousands of District 42 residents “What issues are priorities for you and your family?” and “How can I be most helpful in Annapolis?” Whether going door to door speaking with neighbors, or engaging community groups, businesses, nonprofits and government leaders in Listening and Visioning Sessions, it has become abundantly clear that people living, working and going to school in District 42 are ready to come together, and bridge political divides to focus on thriving schools, affordable healthcare, good jobs and a strong economy, a healthy environment, safe neighborhoods and empowered seniors. “Getting things done in Annapolis” and “bringing back resources for District 42” with “transparency, respect and accountability” is a bold vision shared by our family, friends and neighbors- OUR TIME IS NOW!
Our stellar public and private K-12 and higher education school systems in District 42 are clearly drivers of our economy- people move into, and stay in, our communities with their families because of our schools. Our schools ensure a consistent stream of talented and skilled workers, drive up property values, and fuel investment by a well-resourced customer base for our large and small businesses alike. Baltimore County Public Schools are nationally ranked based upon their exemplary academic merits and the accomplishments of their students, teachers, staff and graduates. The outstanding quality public education that all of our children have access to deserves quality learning environments that honor their achievements. Unfortunately, many of our school facilities are in crisis following decades of deferred maintenance. Combined with ongoing population growth in many of our communities, we are facing severe overcrowding, and concerning building conditions such as fire code violations, urgent health and safety issues, broken and malfunctioning mechanicals- the list goes on and on. Equitable funding across District 42 for new schools and renovations needs to be a priority, and this will be at the top of my agenda in Annapolis. Keeping class sizes small, mitigating the impact of standardized testing, and investing in competitive wages that our valiant teachers and staff deserve are all paramount to thriving schools. We also need to ensure that our children who have worked so hard during their K-12 academic careers can afford a quality higher education, and that neither they, nor their parents, will be burdened by insurmountable debt upon their graduation.
Good Jobs & A Strong Economy
Baltimore County’s economy is strong, but compared to other areas across the State of Maryland, we are not meeting our full potential, especially given our desirable location, skilled workforce, and nationally-ranked public and private schools and universities. Collaboratively crafting a stakeholder-driven Comprehensive and Strategic Plan for District 42 that emphasizes accountable development, balanced with the preservation of open space, is foundational to successful and sustainable economic growth. We need to recruit and retain anchor businesses, and incentivize and support locally-owned and small business and their entrepreneurs. Proactively engaging community, business and government leaders about their vision and ideas for economic growth should include discussing opportunities for workforce development such as job training and apprenticeship programs, and creating clear career pathways for both professional and trade workers, whether they are new to the workforce or mid-career. It’s important that we remember that robust and healthy local and statewide economies are synergistic and intertwined, with consistent investment in infrastructure and transportation systems vital to both.
Affordable Health Care
Strategically planning for and proactively addressing health care reform is a top priority. With significant changes to the Affordable Care Act on the horizon at the federal level, access to affordable and quality health care for residents of District 42, and in all of Maryland, is in jeopardy. Health insurance coverage, which has become increasingly more accessible and affordable over the last several years to Marylanders, would become unattainable for our most vulnerable populations- children, seniors, the unemployed, and those with pre-existing health conditions. Prohibitively high employee insurance coverage costs are paralyzing our small and locally-owned businesses, and are an insurmountable barrier to marketplace entry for would-be entrepreneurs. The risk of a drastic decline in funding for area hospitals may lead to a substantial increase in hospital rates, as well as hospital closures. Prescription drug costs are exponentially rising for consumers, and physicians and hospitals are facing unprecedented shortages of commonly prescribed drugs. The rising costs and complications with reimbursements have caused many private practice doctors to limit the number of insurance carriers they accept, or stop accepting insurance altogether. Of urgent concern is providing resources for addiction prevention and treatment programs for an opioid epidemic that is ravaging our communities, indiscriminately and aggressively taking the lives of our family, friends and neighbors. We need to look beyond party lines, and come together for the good health of us all.
A Healthy Environment
Baltimore County’s rolling green landscapes and the bountiful waterways that lead to our precious Chesapeake Bay face escalating pressures of development and pollution, exacerbated by cuts in funding and educational programming. District 42 deserves state and local leaders who will craft policies that are data-, expert- and constituency-driven. Balancing accountable development with preservation, advancing renewable energy opportunities such as linking jobs to clean energy, and addressing specific issues like fuel efficiency standards and stormwater run-off are all vital to safeguarding our natural resources and our communities. I will reach out to all stakeholders and take a comprehensive approach to crafting environmental policy that thoughtfully and equitably considers health, safety, economic and ecological factors.
All of us deserve to enjoy taking a walk in our own neighborhoods without fear, and to feel safe in our homes, schools, places of work and worship. We deserve to know that our children are protected from harm, and that our neighbors, friends, and family will look out for us. Funding for after-school programs, job training opportunities, gun violence awareness, access to affordable addiction prevention and treatment, community policing and civil and human rights are issues that we as a community need to address head on and with a sense of urgency. By having candid conversations and listening to and honoring each other’s experiences and perspectives, together we can work closely with our local and Maryland State legislators to effectively and respectfully address these challenging issues.
As the Baby Boomer generation embarks upon their senior years, what many had planned to be a time to enjoy their retirement and grandchildren has become overshadowed by financial and health challenges. Many of our seniors struggle to make ends meet, and with the future of Social Security and access to health insurance and quality care in jeopardy, difficult times lie ahead. Parents in our communities of District 42 who are still raising their own children are often called upon at the same time to support their aging parents- straining already limited time and resources. Many of our seniors are also veterans, and they deserve to be honored and cared for with dignity. Consumer protection, and quality and affordable housing and healthcare for our seniors are issues that need to be at the forefront of Maryland’s legislative agenda.