Maryland Voter Guide 2022

2022 Voter Guide: Crystal Francis, candidate for Baltimore County Council District 5

Baltimore County Council
District 5

Crystal Francis



Middle River, Baltimore County

Assistant Director of Program Management, Custom Executive Education, Georgetown University.

Ph.D. Public Policy and Administration, M.S. Homeland Security Management, B.S. Criminal Justice, Pre-law.

For the past 14 years, I have worked as a bipartisan public policy expert for the U.S. Social Security Administration, advancing economic income security for seniors, families, and people with disabilities. I spent the past ten years voluntarily consulting on policy resolutions that save taxpayer dollars, create healthy neighborhoods, remove inequities in the justice system, and reinvest savings back into communities. For the past two years, I have partnered with the county and the local police department as a member of the Equitable Policing Workgroup. I've also served as an election judge, chair of the local Democratic State Central Committee, and an At Large Delegate during the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

Why are you running for office?

I am running to ensure diverse communities and women have a voice in the County Council. I grew up in Turner Station and have been a strong advocate for communities on the east side of Baltimore County. I am the daughter of two United States Army Veterans and the granddaughter of a World War II Veteran. The legacy of public service runs through my veins. I want to partner with communities to make safe communities, healthy neighborhoods, and strong schools a reality in Baltimore County.

What do you see as the most pressing issue Baltimore County faces and how would you address it?

Baltimore County maintains a population of approximately 849,000 people and spans about 598 square miles. Baltimore County ranked 490 out of 500 urban high-performing counties when analyzing the opportunity index. At the same time, our regional neighbors ranked significantly better (Howard County # 8, Anne Arundel County # 202, and Harford county # 259). The following are the most pressing issues facing the county (in order of priority) and how to address each: Community Vitality: Improve the net migration and voter participation rates. Housing: Manage the affordable housing shortfall and housing affordability in general. Equity: Eliminate neighborhood disparity in educational attainment and poverty. Augment neighborhood diversity. Environment: Decrease airborne cancer risk and flood hazards. Increase tree canopy area. Food & Nutrition: Improve access to local food outlets and large grocery stores. Public Safety: Decrease property and violent crime rates. Education: Increase preschool enrollment. Decrease prevalence of idle youth not engaged.

What plans do you have to help the county and its businesses successfully emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many public health and human service concerns that have already existed and demonstrated how interconnected, and resilient communities could be when services, support, and aid are localized. The county should invest in localizing access to critical resources and services in the following ways: Ensure that businesses, schools, and service organizations have effective continuity of operations planning and create opportunities for local stakeholders to participate in regional preparedness exercises. Improve access to food, housing, healthcare, and supplemental income by bringing these resources to the communities, so transportation, broadband, and mobility issues do not prevent communities from accessing services and supports that are readily available. Spearhead collective impact initiative to foster cross-sector partnerships and collaboration with community-based organizations, health and human service providers, business, and the neighborhoods at large and work together to achieve common goals.

What are your views on the future growth and economic development in the county?

There is excellent potential for Baltimore County to focus its future growth and economic development around clean energy jobs, sustainable infrastructure, and upskilling residents in careers focused on science, technology, agriculture, math, mechanics, healthcare, engineering, education, and entrepreneurship. The county should invest resources in opportunities that create partnerships between industry and educational institutions to build a talent pipeline.

What role can the county government play to improve education in county schools?

To improve education in schools, the county must focus on removing neighborhood disparities and poverty barriers associated with educational attainment. The county should focus its resources on improving school infrastructure, reducing overcrowding, enhancing core curriculum, improving school safety and access to nutritious meals, improving access to early education programs, investing in before and aftercare programs, and incentivizing the expansion of programs that incorporate: arts, language, reading, writing, mentoring, sports, science, technology, agriculture, and math into its program components.

What efforts do the county need to make to address systemic racism in government services?

The county must first acknowledge that systemic racism exists in government services and opportunities to secure government contracts. The county should employ the following strategies to address systemic racism: Remove barriers to political participation Address inequities and remove barriers to equal opportunity Revise policy and practices to ensure everyone has the same access to opportunities and resources Make equity, fairness, and inclusivity a part of the decision-making processes

Do you think there needs to be additional oversight to the Office of the Inspector General or changes to the structure of the office? If so, please explain.

The framers of American democracy established the tenants of separation of power. They built a system of checks and balances to safeguard against autocracy by ensuring that no component of the government holds excessive power. The Association of Inspectors General created the "Greenbook," which establishes principles of ethics, accountability, and quality standards for the Offices of Inspector General. OIG staff are public trust workers and, as a result, should have a body to hold them accountable if the public trust or ethics are violated. In Baltimore County, the OIG is the Executive Director of the Ethics Commission, so there is a conflict of interest in that body serving as an overseer. When considering the federal model, OIGs are subject to Integrity Committees composed of former or current IGs or ethics officials from various sectors. They receive, review, and refer for investigation allegations of wrongdoing against OIG offices and its staff.

What steps must the county take to improve public safety?

The county should invest resources in data-driven, evidence-based strategies that reduce property crime, prevent violent crime, and focus on interventions that address low-level, non-violent misdemeanors resulting from mental health, substance use disorders, and residential instability. Studies show that officer visibility and regular patrol activity decrease violent crime, property crime, and calls for service. Proactive community and police engagement reduce fear of crime and strengthen police-community relations. Improving the environmental design of the area (i.e., improve lighting, install security cameras, repair holes in the fence and broken windows, trim overgrown hedging, and maintain landscaping) deters property crime. Diversion to targeted treatment options that address the root cause of criminogenic risk (substance abuse, mental health issues, and residential instability) saves money, reduces jail overcrowding, improves community health, and ensures public safety.

How is climate change impacting the county and what can be done locally to address the effects?

Studies have shown that core values and a localized sense of community directly impact pro-environmental behaviors and how individuals care for their neighborhoods. Pollution, air quality, water quality, tree coverage, and preservation of natural habitats for birds, pollinators, and other wildlife are essential to the communities and me on the east side of Baltimore County. While people care about these issues, there is not always an immediate desire to change our consumption, waste, and land-use behaviors. Solving the climate change problem starts at home. When residents change their consumption and land engagement behaviors, it directly impacts business behavior. When government agencies lead by example and incentivize pro-environmental engagement, it influences how quickly residents change their behaviors. The county should focus on funding local sustainability projects that move us toward zero net waste, invest in clean, renewable energy, preserve open space, and improve tree canopy.

Baltimore Sun Media's voter guide allows candidates to provide their background, policy and platforms on issues, in their own words. Any questions or feedback can be sent to, or read more about the questionnaire process here.