Our Revolution Prince George's Endorsement Questionnaire Responses
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TimestampEmail AddressNameOffice Sought:Website:Election Date:Known Opponents:How does your life experience qualify you for the office you seek?Do you support a State universal health care system in absence of a national plan, to establish a single standard of quality and therapeutic care to all residents in the state? What do you see as the greatest obstacles to enacting universal health-care legislation in Maryland? If you favor such a plan, what can you do to overcome those obstacles?Do you support The Safe Act (Legislation that prevents the State or local Government from using public resources for civil immigration enforcement; prevents law enforcement officials from stopping, arresting or detaining an individual simply to find out immigration or citizenship status; prevents the State from creating a registry for the purpose of immigration enforcement, and prevents State law enforcement officers from being deputized as immigration officers)?What, in your opinion, are the principal reasons there is so much turmoil and lack of accountability in school governance in Prince George’s and how should it be addressed? Should the elected Prince George's school board be restored? Please explain your answer and explain how this would solve the underlying issues when it has not done so in the past. Do you support the education reform measures outlined in the Kirwan Commission? What reform recommendations are most important to you and how would you implement them?Do you support legislation providing free tuition at community colleges and will you commit to using new tax revenue from other sectors to afford it?What is your position on the bail reform imposed by the Maryland Court of Appeals? Are there any other high priority criminal justice issues you would like to see addressed in Maryland?Do you support raising the minimum wage to $15?Do you support closing tax loopholes (Combined Reporting, Closing Carried Interest Loophole, Throwback Tax) that would help close the structural budget deficit and raise money that could be used for education and needed infrastructure projects?There is a great shortage of affordable housing in many Maryland communities. What role can the State and County government have in creating policies that will provide affordable housing for Marylanders at all income levels? How will you engage on this issue?There are two bills before the Maryland General Assembly to increase the renewable portion of Maryland's energy to 50% and 100% in the next 12 to 17 years. Do you support these measures? What initiatives would you support to ensure a clean energy supply?Prince George’s County recently moved to once a week trash pickup. What are your thoughts on this move? What advice would you have given prior to this move and what would you advise now? Are there any other changes you would implement in curbside pickup?What is your position on the Maryland MAGLEV train proposal?Governor Hogan has proposed a massive highway expansion plan that will cost at least $9 Billion. Do you support this plan? How would you choose to spend Maryland's transportation dollars?Do you support CB-004-2018, legislation that would establish a small donor funded elections program in Prince George’s County?
3/15/2018 17:42:23ken@donnaforprincegeorges.orgDonna EdwardsPrince Geroge's County Executivewww.donnaforprincegeorges.orgJune 26, 2018 Democratic PrimaryAlsobrooks, Muse, Johnson, Thompson My 8 years of Congressional & Executive experienceYes, I support a state universal health care system in the absence of a national plan. I support Medicare for all in Maryland, and testified in favor of the Healthy Maryland Act sponsored by Delegate Erek Barron in Annapolis on March 5, 2018, before the Health and Government Operations Committee.
I was in Congress in 2010 representing Maryland’s 4th Congressional District on the passage of the Affordable Care Act. I presided over the debate. I believed then as I believe now that it was only the second-best thing that we could do at the time to improve the health prospects of Marylanders an all Americans. As you know, sometimes the politics dictate the progress. We knew at the time that we could offer more insurance coverage to more people. However, as a private insurer-based system we would never achieve universal care and there would be limits on our ability to hold down costs and make health care accessible to everyone.
The greatest obstacles are political ones – not enough elected leaders on record supporting universal healthcare from their campaigns to their elections. I also think we must have cogent answers about costs, factoring in the cost of doing nothing; answers about the role of federal law, particularly ERISA, as a barrier to states acting independently; answers to the shortage of primary care providers (doctors, nurses, etc.) in rural and low-income areas; answers to long-term and elder care. We also should press at the county level to set the conditions for universal care by establishing a sound health delivery system in the counties, training more nurses through our community college/college systems, and strengthening our public health system.
This all may take several legislative systems, so we must be patient and persistent. I believe that we support HB1516 as the logical next step as we transition from the Affordable Care Act in Maryland. It will be universal – all Marylanders will be enrolled, regardless of where they work, regardless of their zip code. The removal of co-insurance, deductibles and copayments means that income will not be a barrier to entry. Prescription drugs will be covered.
Yes, I support the Safe Act and will ensure that county law enforcement officials continue to abide with those restrictions. During my time in Congress, I participated in debates to restrain local law enforcement from acting as immigration authorities. I also intervened on behalf of immigrants who were detained with what appeared to be local cooperation – I especially remember the case of a domestic violence victim. During my time as executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, I helped to pass the federal law that provides an exemption from detention for battered immigrant women and expanded shelter services for these victims. Community policing requires trust, dialog and common concerns among police and the residents they serve. These conditions are all violated when residents are afraid of police that cooperate with federal immigration officers. Law abiding immigrants know their community and police need to treat them as partners, not criminals.I did not support the 2013 restructuring and my concerns have been borne out in practice. I do not believe that this current structure has provided accountability or transparency to the system. Parents do not know whom to reach out to and there is a marked division between elected and appointed members which has not served students, parents, educators or taxpayers. I do not support the concentration of power to the CEO and away from citizens and residents who foot the bill. Whether the question is graduation rates or Headstart funding or salary increases for executive administration officials, the buck is passed constantly – some board members are in the loop, others are not. I advocate for a return to a fully elected school board with the traditional responsibilities of elected leaders for the school system.I have always stood for an elected school board to ensure full democratic accountability to the people. We lost that when the political bosses in Annapolis and Upper Marlboro thought they knew better than voters. Now the Superintendent and four board allies answer only to the County Executive who appointed them (then exercised little oversight). The result is this ongoing PGCPS cataclysm of fraudulent graduation rates, pay-to-play politics and a bloated Administration getting secret pay raises. The underlying issue is getting good governance, and an elected school board is a better mechanism to deliver that because of the direct accountability to voters who can always elect someone better. Indeed, this has been happening with new board members pushing for reforms that the appointees keep blocking.

Some say that it doesn’t matter whether the board is elected, appointed or a hybrid. I disagree. It matters to those who work in the system and those who are affected by the system and to taxpayers who pay for the system. We need to restore the voice of the voter when it comes to our school board.

We should establish criteria for board service. I have served on numerous national boards and on boards in higher education. I have never served on a board that does not have minimum criteria for service and a description of the time and responsibility expected in service. People who run should know what they are signing up for. We should also ensure that the board is resourced to receive professional development and is able to bring on expertise as needed to help in advising about education policy, budgeting and labor relations. We should establish a system of public financing for all elected leaders in Prince George’s County, including the school board.
The Kirwan Commission has not completed its final report, but the preliminary report draws the right conclusion by not carrying on the mythology of Maryland’s education success; “Putting it bluntly, despite a significant increase in State funding over the past 15 years, Maryland students still perform in the middle of the pack within the US, which is in the middle of the pack against the rest of the modern world.” I support the broad recommendations of the preliminary report and I look forward to the details of the work groups. The message really shaking up the system is one I embrace wholly, and as I have said during my campaign it’s not just the amount of money in the Prince George’s Public School System, it’s where we are spending it. Our budget needs to reduce the senior administration significantly and spend more money on the people who impact our students and the facilities in which they work and learn.
Education should not be dependent on gaming revenues or property taxes, but where these resources are used they should be cordoned off and spent equitably. In addition to using zip codes to determine allocations, I believe we should drill down to the census track district which is a better indicator for poverty. For example, in the 20745 zip code where I live are some of the wealthiest Prince Georgians and the poorest. By merely using a zip code determinant we run the risk of masking poverty within the zip code and preventing more resources from going where they are most needed. This is also true for healthcare, housing, and nutrition resources as well.
The Kirwan Commission final report should embrace universal pre-kindergarten throughout the state – we know with good data that early education is a precursor to long-term school success. I also support recommendations for teacher scholarship and recruitment, technical and vocational training, and expanding after school programs and supportive systems and services in areas of concentrated poverty.
Yes, I support tuition free community college. I have been a longtime supporter of Bail Reform and broader criminal justice system reforms to reduce the number of persons in our jails and prisons. The money bail system has resulted in men and women defendants spending extraordinary time in jails before their cases come to trial. As a new lawyer and clerk on a criminal court, I had the responsibility of making recommendations for release conditions. I know that judges and prosecutors have a lot of discretion when it comes to release conditions. It is imperative for us to have systemic reform to end this pernicious system so that we are not depending on the random judgement of individual judges and prosecutors. In many cases these defendants end up not being convicted or having served more time than the time for the crime for which they are charged. The money bail system can often result in defendants losing jobs, unable to meet family responsibilities or losing custody of their children or children being caught in the foster care system.

As a Member of Congress, I remember helping constituents who were on the verge of losing homes and savings having posted money bond for a child or grandchild. The downstream impacts of this system are not acceptable. In most cases, standard pretrial restrictions (showing up for work, submitting to drug testing, checking in with pretrial services, etc.), a simple assessment of a defendant’s likelihood of appearing for court or submitting to electronic surveillance or regular check-in with pretrial officers are enough to ensure appearance at pending proceedings. Some jurisdictions with progressive prosecutors are doing these things already without legislative changes, though the permanent solution for the state is to make it the rule. As County Executive, I will ensure a budget for effective pre-trial services, testify in Annapolis, host education sessions in Prince George’s County and advocate in whatever way possible to end the current money bail system.
During my time in Congress and before that, I have been an advocate for increasing the minimum wage to a living wage that is tied to inflation. In 2007, I was recognized by the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) for my work supporting the national fight to raise the federal minimum wage. While in Congress I was an original cosponsor and author of bills to raise the minimum wage and the tipped minimum wage (tied to inflation) and I joined WFP, community groups and organized labor to support a state minimum wage increase. Unfortunately, we lost the fight to increase the tipped minimum wage. I will lead the Fight for $15 in Prince George’s County and it will happen. When wages increase at the bottom, it pushes wages in the middle and at the top – when families’ wages increase that has a ripple effect throughout our economy. When people make more, they spend more, they pay more taxes, they relieve burdens on local human services, and they are able to take care of themselves and their families. Increasing the minimum wage and enabling it to progress with inflation is the best way to help all families. While I was in Congress, I was an original co-sponsor of federal legislation to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. I think it should be phased in by size of business over three years with a link to inflation so that the minimum wage keeps pace with inflation.Absolutely. Corporations need to stop free-riding and pay their fair share of taxes on the wealth they are able to generate in Maryland by our investments in education, workforce training, infrastructure, public services, etc.Prince George’s has been slow to recover from the housing crisis and still suffers from a stubbornly high foreclosure rate nearly twice the average in Maryland, so it is important that the County continue to beef up its tools to help residents and non-profit service providers prevent foreclosures and redevelop problem properties.
Part of this involves reforming the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allocation process to ensure that County Government can make sustained, long-term investments in building the capacity of affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization nonprofits and the other requires re-organizing how the County’s tax collection, housing, code enforcement, and redevelopment agencies work together to rehabilitate distressed properties and put them back to productive use.
I have always believed in the power of organizing -- to create good jobs, accessible housing, and beautiful spaces for the public to enjoy. That’s why I am committed to negotiating project labor agreements and community benefits agreements for all large-scale development projects -- because these are tools that can be used to create the base of resources that are necessary to create and preserve affordable and workforce housing across Prince George’s.
Finally, efforts to improve our housing market and neighborhoods should -- wherever possible -- not only focus on making our property values healthier, but the lives of our families and communities more sustainable too. In addition to mixed-use development supported by existing transportation infrastructure, I support mixed-income housing investments so that people are not pushed out of their traditional communities to accommodate development. Mixed income communities are thriving communities. I also support using incentives to encourage teachers, firefighters and police officers to live in the communities they serve.
I strongly support states taking on more responsibility to reduce carbon emissions with renewable energy, especially to compensate for gross federal abuse and neglect under the Trump regime. I would also boost county efforts by having DER and OCS inventory all county operations to ensure we are as energy efficient as possible. I would also recommend ways to increase the use of renewable energy sources. I believe that county government can play a tremendous role to support efforts to mitigate climate change. For example, sitting as the zoning and planning authority (District Council), the County Council could require development projects to use green building techniques – in materials acquisition, using clean energy technologies, water filtration, hubs for electrical vehicles in retrofit and new construction, investing in widening sidewalks and increasing and promoting biking and walking, etc. The County Executive should prioritize using tax incentives to fully develop around our transportation infrastructure to encourage more public transit ridership and making it easy for residents to live and work and play in their communities. We should expand the county bus system so more people can get around the county and out of cars. We need to invest in public infrastructure, from roads and bridges/overpasses to school construction. These public contracts should require green construction. The County Executive should take the lead in promoting clean/green communities to reduce the waste that is making its way into our ground water. In Congress, on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I championed green construction in waste water systems, use of green materials for road surfaces, and green building for General Services Administration projects. I will be the same champion in county government.As I travel throughout the county, there is a public outcry for a return to two-day a week trash pickup. In short, people are livid, and this is becoming a litmus test. I do not think there was sufficient public education or outreach to make a change that is having an impact on people’s quality of life – insects and rodents and increased trash in neighborhoods. Having heard from citizens, I believe that we can regain the trust of citizens to make real inroads in recycling, reuse and embracing strategies to decrease our waste and still restore two-day a week trash pickup, at least to many inside-the-beltway communities that seem to be most negatively impacted. To deal with air quality impact of trucks on the roads, we should phase in requirements for clean burning trucks. To reduce waste, we should embark on public education and get greater cooperation from citizens to reduce waste.As a former member of the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I understand the importance of a more functioning, efficient northeast corridor that would be best served by high-speed rail—this is the most productive economic corridor in the country and Prince George’s County is a part of that. I believe there is value to our region and our local economy of improving the efficiency of the northeast corridor. With the potential to expand our local economy as it becomes more convenient for financial, technology and insurance sectors to relocate to the metropolitan Washington, DC, region, Prince George’s County is in the cat bird’s seat to attract those businesses with a more efficient corridor through high speed transport to connect New York, Philadelphia, and Boston to the region and with the Thurgood Marshall BWI Airport. I supported the efforts of the Obama Administration to provide $9 billion for concepts to the develop of high-speed rail in the northeast corridor.

I first became acquainted with the Maglev concept in 2009/10. I had an opportunity 7 years ago to travel to Japan and meet with their transit authorities where a similar train has been in operation. I looked at the design, I rode the train, and I questioned the Japanese rail authority about the safety record and risks pre- and post-construction. In looking at the most preliminary plans for SCMaglev, it would appear that the underground footprint along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway poses the least potential for displacement and disruption for construction and operation. Nonetheless, even that alignment raises serious questions about the environmental impact and the impact to homes and communities in Prince George’s County. In recent weeks, I have heard from a number of citizens and advocates opposed to the SCMaglev. They raise compelling questions that must be addressed before signing off on the project or ending it altogether. I am open to hearing more information before coming to a final conclusion.

As County Executive, I want to expand our local economy. I believe that efficient transportation is central to a 21st Century economy. We have many transportation priorities, from the Purple Line, to expanded bus transportation, to rehabilitating roads and overpasses, to rail over the Wilson Bridge that are a fraction of the cost of SCMaglev and would result on a more immediate return on our investment. We should not reject an opportunity to develop transportation projects with the right type of pressure and the right concept to benefit our communities with innovative technology and good jobs. I think the jury is still out on whether SCMaglev is the right project or concept.
When the Wilson Bridge was widened to eight lanes, the argument was that congestion would be reduced (today, there are more cars than ever). As member of a coalition of civic leaders we fought for and won an engineering design that will support rail across the Wilson Bridge, which if done then or now would reduce congestion tremendously in that corridor. The idea was rejected, principally by developers and road industry lobbyists, but it was a lesson learned too late.
In my view, widening I-495 or the Baltimore-Washington Parkway would simply lead to more congestion and sprawl -- which together will contribute to climate change and create more pollution in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed along with further taxing our existing public infrastructure. Governor Hogan’s proposal is just the kind of wasteful boondoggle I’ve pledged to end as County Executive, and I will do whatever I can to make sure his proposal is dead on arrival -- especially if it continues to use the regressive tool of High Occupancy Toll lanes as its primary funding source. The Inter-County Connector, sometimes dubbed the road less traveled, is another example of billions spent while taking little, if any, pressure off the I-270 corridor. These type of toll roads are regressive, placing more economic pressure on lower income workers who must either pay the toll or pay the consequences of failing to invest in public transit. We would be better positioned in the region to use our transportation dollars to expand and support transit and meet our regional commitment to WMATA that is necessary for the system to operate as an engine for Maryland’s economy.
I believe that the system that entrenches corporate special interests in our campaign finance is at the heart of why we have a difficult time pursuing the public interest. (As an aside, I have decided not to accept money from the developer community to fund my campaign for County Executive.) Locally, developers, real estate attorneys, polluter industries, and others give money to candidates expecting them to act on their agenda – preferential zoning, contracting favors, etc. Too many of our elected officials tailor their decision making to their donors and sadly some have been caught taking money under the table from these very interests. This is not a way to run a government or to have the type of accountability or transparency that we deserve. Since the early 1990’s, I have worked on ways to get special interest money out of our politics.
As a young lawyer working for Public Citizen, working with organizations such as the Sierra Club, Common Cause, Public Interest Research Group, Citizen Action, ACORN, League of Conservation Voters, and others, I helped craft a national and state-based strategy for reform – in Congress, state legislatures and on the ballot. I served on the national governing boards of Common Cause and the League of Conservation Voters, fighting for issues of reform. I started the Center for a New Democracy spearheading state ballot campaigns in Montana, Colorado, Arkansas, California, and the District of Columbia to prefer small-donor contributions. As a philanthropist running the Arca Foundation and chair of the Funders Committee for Civic Participation, I funded state efforts in Arizona, Maine, Connecticut, New Jersey and here in Maryland to provide for public financing of elections. And, in Congress, I chaired the Democracy Task Force to provide for public financing of congressional elections and I introduced the first constitutional amendment to repeal Citizens United vs. FEC. I have a long career understanding the changes that are needed in our campaign finance system from federal to local elections to strengthen accountability and representation in our elections. I will work tirelessly to make sure that we achieve reform in Prince George’s County and that we fund a system that will work to sever the link between money and our public policy.
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