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Maryland Voter Guide 2022

2022 Voter Guide: Reginald Benbow, candidate for Maryland House District 43A

Maryland House
District 43A

Reginald Benbow

Democratic

32

Lakeside, Baltimore City

Management Consultant focused on digital transformation and change management for health care providers.

BA, University of Virginia; M.S. Education, Johns Hopkins University; M.B.A. Duke University

Volunteer, canvasser, phone bank for various candidates and causes, including Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, marriage equality and city schools funding

Why are you running for office?

It is time for change. We cannot expect different results by electing the same people every four years. I am a son of Baltimore, raised by a single mother with a father in prison. Few expected me to succeed. Yet, I rose to become the first person in my family to graduate from college. And after, I became a Baltimore City public school teacher. I fought to overcome obstacles, fought to teach students and fought to make healthcare more affordable for all. I have what it takes to be our champion and fight for change. I promise to be the progressive, bold, results-driven champion we need. I've fought for myself, I've fought for students, and now, I want to fight for us in Annapolis.

What is the most pressing issue in your district?

Baltimore is becoming unaffordable. The minimum wage in Maryland is $12.20/hour, but you are only meant to spend one-third of your income on rent. This means that if you and your partner are working full time, you still wouldn't be able to afford a one bedroom apartment in Baltimore. In northeast Baltimore, rent and home prices are up by double-digit percentages since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, residential tax assessments have increased in conjunction with home values; hurting seniors and long-term home owners with limited incomes. In 2012, I purchased my home in Ednor Gardens-Lakeside on a teacher's salary. Ten years later, I would not be able to afford my home on the same salary as home prices have increased by $100,000. We must address our affordability crisis by preserving and expanding the supply of affordable rentals, and holding developers accountable for building affordable homes.

How will you help your constituents deal with inflation?

We need an economic bill of rights. I will work to legislate an Economic Bill of Rights guaranteeing the right to a job, housing, food, water, and public transportation. This will lay the foundation for a sustainable care economy. Furthermore, I will work with my colleagues to pass legislation preventing price gouging. Lastly, we must address the affordability crisis: we must establish rent control as rent prices continue to outpace inflation. We must incentivize developers to build affordable housing and not just luxury apartments and condos.

What do you see as the top transportation priority in your district, and how would you address it?

Transit equity is not just about transit, but about economic mobility. In the Baltimore region, only 9% of jobs are currently accessible by public transit in an hour or less. Commuters need, and deserve, reliable and affordable transit options to travel to and from work, school and recreation. We can strengthen the city's reach to have more jobs accessible by public transit by building the east-west Redline, and investing in a north-south transit corridor along York road / Greenmount avenue in the 43rd district.

What should schools do differently during the next pandemic to help students, families and teachers?

Systemically, we must close the digital divide. Every child needs an at-home laptop and an at-home high speed internet connection. Additionally, we should not open schools for in-person learning without providing students and staff with multiple KN-95 masks, installing HEPA filters, and having daily cleaning. Furthermore, we must address staff fatigue, burnout and school culture and climate to retain school-based staff; many of whom have departed the profession. Teachers should not have to reconfigure lesson plans for hybrid learning while contact tracing. The shortage of substitutes and para-professionals adds more work for teachers and administrators. There is a shortage of food service employees and bus drivers, leading to a dismal experience for students. As a former teacher and forever educator, I know that schools need partners in Annapolis to hold the state government accountable and push for the leading practice solutions.

How equitably do police officers treat people of color?

Police who engage in misconduct shouldn't keep their jobs. Achieving real police accountability is one of my top priorities. The lack of centralized information on police misconduct and terminations, coupled with laws and police union contracts that often shield records from view, provide opportunities for officers disciplined or fired for misconduct to find work in other jurisdictions. The voluntary FBI Excessive Force database collects data from only ~40% of agencies nationally. We need to mandate that all Maryland police agencies participate in the FBI Excessive Force database. Beyond that, we need a state level registry to track officers. Anton's Law, while admirable, depends on information requests and on agencies answering those requests, which agencies have refused. We need a searchable database and dashboard-based registry that collates information from every police department in Maryland. Additionally, qualified immunity must be eliminated for full police accountability.

What would you do to make sure Maryland's voting system is secure and accurate?

Maryland deserves free and fair elections. To that end, we need to expand access to voting. I will champion the following solutions in Annapolis: -100% vote by mail to encourage maximum participation, similar to Colorado Public financing for general assembly candidates -U.S. Permanent Residents allowed to vote in local and state elections -Automatic voter registration -Non-partisan primaries (Jungle primary system similar to California and Louisiana)

What are the right goals and deadlines for Maryland to reduce carbon emissions and develop renewable energy sources?

The climate crisis threatens Maryland with rising seas, extreme weather, and economic disruption. Let's pass a comprehensive Green New Deal for Maryland that mandates achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035; an ambitious but necessary goal. We must act immediately to implement bold policies that mobilize every aspect of society to transition to 100% clean and renewable energy, repair the generational harms to marginalized communities, and guarantee living-wage jobs to everyone in need of economic security — all in the next 10 years. It is our duty to transform our energy system to 100% renewable energy and invest in weatherization, public transportation, modern infrastructure and high-speed broadband. In addition, we must address institutional racism within our transit system by building the Red Line, and a north-south line. These lines will link our communities through sustainable transportation and connect working class Baltimoreans to a broader range of jobs and opportunities.

What's Maryland's best use of federal COVID relief money?

Let's fully fund the Blueprint for Maryland's future and invest in a green new deal. There are many practical solutions to invest in human and physical infrastructure as our communities suffer from higher levels of asthma and flooding, have limited economic opportunities and even limited tree cover: -Create universal Pre-K -Fully fund at home devices and high speed internet for public school children in need -Invest in upskilling for green economy jobs, focused on undervalued communities -Invest in public works infrastructure to lessen flooding -Close the incinerator in Baltimore; leverage composting as a waste management strategies to keep food and organic waste out of landfills

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 elections@baltsun.com, or read more about the questionnaire process here.


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