Maryland Voter Guide 2022

2022 Voter Guide: Raaheela Ahmed, candidate for Maryland Senate District 23

Maryland Senate
District 23

Raaheela Ahmed



Bowie, Prince George's County

Deputy Director, Campus Vote Project

B.A. Economics, University of Maryland B.S. Finance, University of Maryland

Prince George's County Board of Education Member, District 5, 2016-2022 University System of Maryland Board of Regents, 2014-2015

Why are you running for office?

I'm a lifelong resident of Maryland's 23rd District and product of our public schools. I first ran for office as an 18-year-old college student, campaigning against big money and power from my local political establishment, hoping to bring positive social change. After winning the primary but losing the general election, I came back four years later and won with 32,000+ votes, thanks to grassroots organizing and community support. Since then, I've joyfully served 5 years as an elected county School Board Member, championing reforms in mental health, budget, infrastructure, curriculum, transparency, diversity and inclusion. This year, I decided to once again challenge the status quo by running for State Senate. While this is a challenging race, it is a fight worth having. My community deserves a vocal progressive advocate that stands up to money, power, and politicians and fights for what's right. That's who I am. That's why I'm running.

What is the most pressing issue in your district?

Ensuring a quality public education system for our students is a top priority for me, and a pressing issue for my community. As our elected School Board Member for the past 5 years, I have fought to advance academic achievement of our students, and have a proven track record of effective advocacy — just take a look at I am committed to pushing forth these efforts on the state level as well, such as dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, adequately building and renovating schools through public funds, promoting culturally responsive curriculum, furthering financial literacy, supporting free early childhood education opportunities, and advocating for resources and support for our marginalized students and communities. I also believe in fully funding and supporting our Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), particularly District 23's very own Bowie State University.

How will you help your constituents deal with inflation?

As a double degree holder in finance and economics, and having worked as a financial consultant for the federal government, I understand how our financial systems are built, bought and designed by and for the rich. To deal with inflation and allow a better quality of life for the community, I strongly oppose predatory financial practices that inhibit our most marginalized communities from building wealth and economic prosperity, like exorbitant credit card and loan interest rates and late fees. I support closing tax loopholes for corporations, and having them pay their fair share of wealth to build and grow our communities. Additionally, it is important that every community member has a healthy and sustainable work environment where they are appreciated and valued, monetarily and otherwise. I believe everyone deserves a true living wage (adjusted for inflation), paid family and medical leave, and a fair workweek.

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

The options for, and accessibility of, public transportation in District 23 is limited. That is a problem if we are trying to shape a community that is supportive of the needs of working families, and answerable to the urgency of climate change. I believe that we need legislative action to ensure the Maryland Department of Transportation scores projects favorably that would reduce car dependency, reduce pollution, and support the transportation needs of vulnerable communities. The General Assembly should also explore carving out a percentage of the gasoline tax and toll revenues, to support public transit, and safe, convenient bicycle and pedestrian access to essential services in all communities.

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

If we face another global pandemic in our lifetime, we cannot underestimate the fear and anxieties that manifest as a result of widespread illness, death, and subsequent community turmoil. This pandemic showed us, even more than before, that we need to address the social-emotional well-being of our students and staff, to ensure a conducive environment for safety, growth and learning. As a School Board Member, I advocated to increase our budget by $4 million for 21 school psychologists (including paid internships) and 18 social workers, and will continue to advocate for mental health support funding and resources for our state's students and school system staff to cope with the aftermath of this pandemic. Beyond mental health, next time around we all need to be vigilant in following the guidance and instruction of public health officials and agencies with fidelity, to curb the spread of viruses immediately.

How equitably do police officers treat people of color?

Very inequitably, and the data supports it. Although Maryland has made significant strides in criminal justice reform over the last few years, I believe there is much more to be done to repair the gaps created in and by our broken justice system. I believe in heavily investing in mental health resources and other social needs for the community. I believe in better accountability and licensing from forensic scientists and labs, including allowing wrongfully convicted people to be able to get back into court based on discredited forensic evidence. I'd like to see sound labor practices in prisons, no racial discrimination in arrests and sentencing, a full ban on no-knock warrants, and community oversight of the justice system.

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

I have worked professionally in the democracy reform and civic engagement space for several years. Additionally, as a School Board Member, I have fought for governmental transparency and accountability in its structure, function, and operation. As such, I am supportive of permanent universal vote-by-mail to provide all residents the greatest possible access to the ballot box; public financing for elected offices to reduce the influence of money in politics; decreasing the barrier of entry for local citizens to run for office; special elections to fill vacancies of elected positions instead of political appointments; and live streaming and recording of all public proceedings of the legislature in Annapolis, including committee meetings and floor votes.

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

We only have one world, and I will fight to protect it. As a National Leadership Council member for Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA), a network of current and former elected officials committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, and protecting our land and water, I am committed to action in the state of Maryland. By 2035, I believe we should have 100% clean energy, zero emissions transportation, and zero food and landfill waste. More immediately, I advocate for no new gas pipelines to be built in the state. I also do not support plans to advance the SCMAGLEV train project through the district. Because of my strong environmental stances and vision for the state, I am the endorsed candidate of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club in this race.

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

Housing: I am no stranger to the high costs of living, especially in District 23. I believe no member of our community should be living paycheck-to-paycheck to live comfortably in a neighborhood of their choice. I am supportive of homeowner and renter tax credits, and tenants rights legislation to ensure everyone is house-secure. Healthcare: As a person with several health issues, I found myself in and out of hospitals as a child, amassing large bills for my family to pay. I believe everyone has a right to live a healthy life, without going into debt to do so. That's why I support a universal, single-payer healthcare system with minimal to no out-of-pocket expenses for prescription medication and health devices. I support continued COVID-19 prevention and relief efforts in the form of free testing, vaccines and protective equipment to the community, and support healthcare professionals as they fight on the frontlines.

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.