Maryland Voter Guide 2022

2022 Voter Guide: Chris West, candidate for Maryland Senate District 42

Maryland Senate
District 42

Chris West



Towson, Baltimore County

State Senator, Maryland General Assembly

Williams College, B.A., 1972. University of Pennsylvania Law School, J.D., 1975

From 1975 until 2014, I practiced law in Baltimore City. I am a past President of the Bar Association of Baltimore City. From 1982 until 2002, I was General Counsel to the Maryland Republican Party. My first run for political office occurred in 2014, when I was 64 years old. I ran for State Delegate and won. In 2018, I ran for State Senate and won.

Why are you running for office?

I passed 45 bills in the last four years, making me one of the most productive legislators in Annapolis. I have developed cordial personal relationships with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, which has made it possible for me to roll up my sleeves and work diligently with other State Senators to achieve consensus on what otherwise likely would have been divisive legislation. I am running for a final term as State Senator in order to make Maryland a better place to live, with lower taxes, better schools, a stronger small business community and a cleaner and healthier environment.

What is the most pressing issue in your district?

Both Dulaney and Towson High Schools are ancient, by modern educational standards and badly need to be replaced. I successfully fought to bring back $420 million from Annapolis to build new schools in Baltimore County, far more than enough to build replacement schools for both Dulaney and Towson, and then I once again successfully fought to place these two schools on the BCPS priority list and to get the County Executive to fund their replacement. With that accomplished, the task ahead is to maintain the forward momentum so that, by the end of the next term of office, the replacement projects will be well underway.

How will you help your constituents deal with inflation?

I supported de-coupling the State's gas tax from automatic annual inflation increases. That measure failed in 2022, but if inflation continues at its current pace, we need to revisit the issue in 2023. Tying taxes to inflation is a terrible idea. We also need to redouble our efforts to reduce the tax burdens that we have placed on our retirees so that we can stem the tide of retirees leaving Maryland to relocate in states with lower tax burdens.

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

It may sound axiomatic, but deteriorating roads and bridges need to be repaired or replaced. Nearly all of my constituents use their cars to get to work, to grocery stores and to other shops and stores. Decrepit roads and bridges seriously diminish the quality of life in our suburban and rural communities. Spending billions of dollars on mass transit vehicles traveling through long tunnels under Baltimore City sounds sexy, but a very small percentage of our citizens (and nearly none of my constituents) use mass transit. The light rail passes through my legislative district from the City Line all the way north to Hunt Valley, and yet hardly anyone uses it. We need to direct our attention to vehicular traffic relief.

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

First, we need to extend broadband coverage to every home in the State. Having kids stuck at home with no access to virtual education is unacceptable. Second, we need to resourcefully arrange to keep our kids in school, albeit masked and socially distanced. During the pandemic, a high percentage of our children lost a year and a half of their education. Heavens knows when we will bring them back up to their appropriate grade level of schooling. We just can't allow this to happen again.

How equitably do police officers treat people of color?

A recognition that in the past some police officers have not treated all of our citizens equally is no excuse for destroying the morale of our police departments. The answer is to hire a more diverse cadre of officers so that the police force in any community is representative of the population of the community. Of equal importance is frequent and better training for our officers. Instead, the General Assembly decided to passed punitive measures that effectively have branded police officers as public enemies. The anti-police bills enacted in the past two years by the General Assembly have resulted in the most senior and professional police officers taking early retirement, have led mid-career officers to leave public service for jobs in the private sector and have so discouraged young people from aspiring to careers as police officers that it is now very difficult to recruit qualified applicants.

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

I think that the employees of our County Election Boards are doing a great job. The use of paper ballots at the polls ensures that, in the event of any questions, the ballots can be hand-counted to compare the actual votes with the machine tabulations. The only mistake made in 2020, in my view, was the indiscriminate mailing of live ballots to voters in the Primary election to replace Congressman Cummings. Live ballots arrived at homes where the voters no longer resided. The solution is obvious — live ballots should only be mailed to homes where the voters actually live, as determined by their individual requests for ballots and their verification of their current residential addresses.

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

I have played a major role in cleaning up Maryland's air. I sponsored a bill requiring the phasing-out of the burning of coal to generate electricity in Maryland by 2030. While this bill was pending, the owners of all six remaining Maryland coal-burning electrical generating plants sat down with me, and we shook hands on agreements to end the burning of coal at their plants by the end of the decade. In addition, I have pressed hard to require the counties to take a hard look at placing solar panels on the roofs of all new public schools to be built with State money. I have good reason to believe that a bill to this effect will be teed up for passage in 2023.

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

Most of the COVID relief money is being used for one-time capital expenditures on new structures and equipment. These non-recurring expenditures will not inflate the State Budget and cause structural deficits in the years to come.

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.