2022 Voter Guide: John Sarbanes, candidate for U.S. Congress District 3

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U.S. Congress
District 3

John Sarbanes




Member of Congress; previously an attorney

I graduated from the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, studied law and politics in Greece on a Fulbright Scholarship and graduated from Harvard Law School.

Member of Congress representing Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District since 2007

Why are you running for office?

I am running to serve the diverse needs of my constituents, especially as we recover and rebuild our economy following the unprecedented challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. I’m working hard to help families with rising costs, create good paying jobs and strengthen our education system. I’m also fighting to keep our government transparent and accountable, ensure access to affordable health care, preserve the Chesapeake Bay and protect our planet from the dangerous threat of climate change. I led the charge in Congress to limit the influence of Big Money on politics and strengthen the vote and the voice of every American. Whether it’s the economy, energy and the environment, health care or any other critical issue, special interests and well-connected insiders are calling the shots in Washington. We need to return to a government of, by and for the people.

What is the most pressing issue in your state or district?

Rising prices are putting a real strain on families and Marylanders want Congress to act. We must meet these economic challenges and renew our commitment to a more sustainable, prosperous future. Boosting our economy means lowering costs and creating good paying jobs. I am working to lower some of the largest expenses for families: childcare, health care and housing. The recently passed federal budget bill rises to these challenges and delivers critical resources for Marylanders who are feeling pinched. It will put Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, help small businesses grow, invest in the next generation and make health care more affordable. I will continue to fight to strengthen our economy and do all I can to help Americans recover from the pandemic.

What does the U.S. need to do to combat climate change?

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our day. Congress must work towards solutions that preserve our environment for the next generation and ensure a greener, healthier future for all Americans. We must move away from our dependence on fossil fuels and invest in clean, affordable energy. We also need to crack down on polluters, advance climate science research and invest in conservation projects and environmental justice efforts. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and recently passed federal budget bill provide critical funding for climate resilience, weatherization, clean energy programs and power grid upgrades. But we must do more. I support implementing new polluter fees, creating clean energy tax incentives and credits and establishing a Civilian Climate Corps to work on conservation projects throughout our country. We also need to deploy more clean energy, modernize our infrastructure and invest in sustainability and resiliency.

How do you assess the United States' response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine?

Russia has violated the core principles that uphold global peace and security and its attack on Ukraine and its citizens is indefensible. Together with our allies, America must stand with Ukraine to protect freedom, democracy and the lives of innocent Ukrainians. Congress and the Biden Administration have taken several important steps to aid Ukraine and defend global democracy. I strongly support the sweeping financial sanctions on Vladimir Putin, Russian oligarchs and other associated entities. I have also supported the provision of security and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and the decision to accept Ukrainian refugees into our country. America must always lead with its values on the world stage and work with its allies on matters concerning security, trade and freedom. It is also imperative that we continue to engage with our partners in diplomacy to solve our most pressing issues.

What should the U.S. do regarding the legal status and prospective citizenship for undocumented immigrants living here?

Contributions by immigrants are at the heart of American society. My grandparents undertook an ocean voyage from Greece to begin a new life as restaurant laborers here in Maryland and committed themselves to strengthening the democratic fabric of this country. I see that same commitment in the families of our immigrant communities all throughout America. We need to support an immigration policy that takes into account national security and economic interests, as well as the need to provide a fair legal framework for those seeking to come to our nation from other countries. In particular, DACA must be preserved until we can codify the DREAM Act. DACA recipients are promising young people, most of whom have known no other home than the United States, and they should be afforded the educational and economic opportunities that the United States has provided to immigrants for generations.

How would you describe what happened at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6?

The Capitol is a symbol of freedom and democracy - not just for Americans, but for people the world over. The events of January 6, 2021were a violent insurrection and impeachment of the president was a declaration to the world that when there is an attack on our democracy - whether it comes from outside or whether, tragically, as in this instance, it comes from within - we will respond to that threat and attack, and do what's necessary to strengthen our democracy. Uncovering the facts of January 6th and the days that led up to it is a critical part of providing transparency, demanding accountability and ensuring nothing like that day ever occurs again.

What should the U.S. do now to prepare for the next pandemic?

Our country – and the entire world – was woefully unprepared to respond to this pandemic. Among the many problems we experienced, the strain on our healthcare workers and in our health care system was overwhelming and the pandemic took a heavy toll on both these providers and public health workers. Many have left the workforce and virtually all are experiencing some level of burnout. Since astrong, well-trained workforce is critical to supporting a high quality health care delivery system, we must provide robust investments to rebuild our public health infrastructure and make data driven decisions about how to prioritize the health care workforce. I have worked on this issue for many years, but it is more important now than ever for us to reposition ourselves in a visionary way to both recover and prepare for the next pandemic.

What's the right balance for U.S. transportation spending between roads and transit?

Last year, I was proud to support the passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to finally fund long-term investments in our transportation sectors. This bill funds necessary improvements for the safety and continued accessibility of our roads, bridges, airports, public transit systems and more. It also includes critical provisions to reduce emissions and create greener, more sustainable transportation options - which offer important economic, connectivity and environmental benefits. As a longtime supporter of comprehensive public transit systems in Maryland and across the country, I also believe we must continue to improve and expand these cost-effective, environmentally-friendly, safe and accessible means of travel. I will continue to strongly support increased federal funding for public transportation systems as well as the expansion of those systems into more communities to ensure all individuals are easily, affordably and reliably connected to each other and economic opportunities regardless of where they live.

What would you have the nation do to better address income inequality?

Income inequality remains one of the most pressing issues facing our nation today. Through targeted investments in coronavirus relief legislation, we were able to lift up many individuals during a particularly challenging time, but far more remains to be done. That is why I strongly support policies to ensure all individuals can earn a living wage, find affordable childcare and access equitable economic opportunities. I am proud to be a cosponsor of legislation that would create a universal paid leave system, lower health care costs and increase the prevalence of affordable housing. I’ve also long fought to expand affordable educational opportunities, reduce the cost of higher education and increase career and technical training opportunities, including registered apprenticeships. Ultimately, income inequality is also a symptom of other issues in our democracy, and I believe democracy reform to ensure the government answers to average Americans rather than special interests must occur.

Describe your position on the Electoral Count Act, which would put "guardrails" around the certification of presidential elections?

The right to vote is the bedrock of American democracy and it is essential that the federal government protect all citizens’ access to and confidence in our elections. I support efforts – like the Electoral Count Act - to put guardrails around the certification of our elections and promote the safe, democratic and peaceful transfer of power. I also believe, however, that in order to truly ensure the strength of our democratic institutions for future generations, we must take broader action to reform and restore our democracy. I was proud to lead the House’s effort to return political power to the American people and safeguard our electoral process through H.R 1, the For the People Act. This legislation, along with other bills I have cosponsored to strengthen voting rights, protect election workers and secure our elections from outside influence are critical to restoring faith in our democratic institutions.

Who's your top choice for president in 2024 and why?

I am looking forward to supporting President Biden, assuming he runs. Otherwise, I will support whomever Democrats nominate because I believe the Democratic party best represents the interests of all Americans.

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.