Voter guide: Joseph C. Ardito, Congress, District 3

Joseph C. Ardito

Democratic candidate for Congress, D3

Age 38

Residence Greektown, Baltimore City

Occupation Attorney

Education College and law school graduate


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Previous political experience

I worked for my state senator in Brooklyn, NY for many years and managed Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign in regions of northern Colorado.

Why are you running for office?

I am running to represent Maryland’s 3rd congressional district because we deserve passionate, more engaged, and active representation. Rep. Sarbanes has been in office for nearly 14 years and I have neither seen him nor heard from him during my time living in Baltimore City. This is a large and highly gerrymandered congressional district; however, I find this lack of engagement inexcusable. Furthermore, it is time to enact term limits in Congress. Our communities deserve a passionate and engaged leader who is available and accessible to constituents, who wants to learn about the issues facing all of our diverse communities and the problems all of the unique individuals living in the 3rd district are struggling with, and who does not feel so exceedingly comfortable simply going through the motions being re-elected every two years while waiting for the next thing.


How do you assess the Trump administration so far? Name at least one positive and one negative.

The Trump administration has been a disappointing failure and an affront to the democratic ideals and institutions that (once) formed the foundations of our democracy. It has repeatedly failed to meet the needs of Americans and its gross incompetence is now resulting in thousands of deaths nationwide. The First Step Act, signed into law in late 2018, is the administration’s singular positive accomplishment as the result of a bipartisan effort to at least begin to address the atrocities of our criminal justice system.


What effect do you believe the federal tax cuts of 2017 have had on the economy thus far or will have in the future and why? Do you support the cuts?

The 2017 tax cuts served to line the coffers of corporations, and of the rich and powerful. Promises of major investment, increased wages for workers, and that the cuts would pay for themselves were all false and, notably, have not materialized. Most Americans have seen or will likely see a decrease in earnings as a result of this fully-Republican backed legislation, and it will have to be paid for by increasing other taxes, or by cutting other valuable programs.


Is the level of economic inequality in the United States a problem, and why or why not? What, if anything, should the federal government do to address it?

Income inequality is clearly a probem in the United States. The federal minmum wage has been $7.25/hour since 2009. Before that, it was $5.15/hour. These numbers are real—and they are indefensible. The minumum wage must be raised—incrementally over time—to at least $15/hour. Many states and local jurisdictions across the country have begun to raise their minimum wage and are on track to reach $15 over a period of time. Research has shown that even slightly higher wages decrease rates of suicide and crime. Increasing the minimum wage to a more humane amount will have far reaching and positive effect.


Should federal gun laws be changed, and if so, how and why?

Absolutely yes. I was recently selected as a Moms Demand Action Gun Sense candidate for this race.

The NRA will not bully me. We can defend the Constitution AND enact sensible gun laws that can save the lives of our children and loved ones. We must ban assault weapons, conduct universal background checks, restrict magazine size, provide for waiting periods, impose criminal penalties on individuals who do not restrict access to firearms, and institute national mental health counseling services. Too many people are needlessly dying from gun violence. These sensible reforms, supported by a large majority of Americans, are long overdue.


What should Congress do with respect to the Affordable Care Act, how and why? If you believe it should be scrapped, what, if anything, should replace it?

We must either protect and continue to improve the ACA by adding a public option and trying harder to make it work for all Americans, or we must have Medicare available to all of us. The current health care system in this country is unacceptable. Its complexity and corrupt, profit-driven private insurance company-benefitting model, at the expense of human life, is criminal and must end.


What role should the federal government play in helping cities? What, if anything, would you do for Baltimore, specifically?

The federal government clealry has a role to play in helping cities. Its sizable resources have the potential to have an immeasurable positive socioeconomic impact on Baltimore and the communities that make up our district. The Obama administration, for example, created a task force for Baltimore City focused on addressing violent crime, high unemployment, public health, and Baltimore Police Department reforms. Once in Congress, I will work with all of our communities and public officials at every level to ensure such vital programs, investment, and funding are reinstated. The federal government must invest in these and other initiatives such as improved public transportation, affordable public housing, youth employment, public parks and green spaces, supporting the growth of small businesses, and increasing access to affordable and healthy food. The federal government can and must do more to support Baltimore communities, families, businesses, and schools.


Do you back Elijah Cummings’ bill -- which Republicans say is too expensive -- to provide $100 billion over 10 years to fight the opioid epidemic? Why or why not?

Yes, I absolutely support this critical legislation and the research, funds, and services it would provide. Our communities are in desperate need of funding and essential services to fight against this deadly epidemic. Thousands are dying from opioid addiction and individuals and families are left without the tools and resources needed to offer potentially life-saving support to their loved ones. However, it is important that we not limit our focus to only opioids—our communities have been suffering from the devastating consequences of unmitigated substance use and ineffective drug policies for decades. The federal government must do more to invest resources into our communities to address this epidemic more broadly.


What changes, if any, should Congress make to our immigration and deportation laws and policies? Should the DACA program be preserved? Why or why not?

The unconscionable cruelty exhibited by the US towards immigrants and refugees must come to an immediate end. In Congress, I will protect the DREAMers by codifying DACA and ensuring a path to citizenship. It is time for the US to implement humane policies that safeguard the lives of our fellow human beings, many of whom are escaping circumstances most of us are not capable of comprehending.


How would you rate the Trump administration’s trade stance with China and why?

A protracted trade war with China is bad for our economy and for American businesses and consumers. The trade deal signed with China in January was a helpful first step to curb the negative economic impacts of retaliatory tariffs and bullying on behalf of the administration. Under the deal, China is required to purchase $200B worth of American goods and services by 2021—which of course is politically expedient for Trump. China has also agreed to strenghten its intellectual property protections. As November approaches, Trump is likely is restore tariffs on Chinese imports as a way to signal displeasure over growing concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. Once in Congress, I will fight these harmful displays of bullying and work to protect American workers, businesses, and consumers.


Do you support the president’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal? Why or why not?

Absolutely not. Withdrawing from the JCPOA was a brash, impulsive, and irresponsible decision. Under the agreement, Iran agreed to dismantle much of its nuclear program and allow extensive access to its facilities by inspectors in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions. By all accounts, Iran was abiding by the deal and the world was becoming a more stable and safer place. Trump’s irrational decision to withdraw the United States from the deal has created uncertainty and instability not only in the Middle East, but in the entire world.


How should the United States address the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program?

It is likely not possible to have meaningful, rational negotiations with North Korea, a murderous dictatorial regime. The United States must leverage its allies, and even its adversaries, to fight against all potential nuclear threats. The world must eliminate North Korea’s financial pipeline thereby neutralizing their ability for further proliferation. Once in Congress, I will work tirelessly to ensure countries like North Korea and Iran have no ability to further develop nuclear programs.


How should the United States address climate change?

The US should be the world LEADER in addressing the global environmental crisis. The federal government’s current position on global warming is pathetic, dangerous, and inexcusable. Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement was a short sighted, petty move with long-term devastating consequences. Once in Congress, I will pass legislation that will help eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels and curb greenhouse gas emissions, both of which are responsible for polluting our atmosphere and which contribute directly to the global environmental crisis. Particularly for our region, it is essential that we act to protect the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding regions. Rising water levels, shoreline erosion, and coastal flooding will have devastating effects in our communities.


Do you support the Green New Deal? Why or why not?

Absolutely yes. Clean air, clean water, and healthy food are basic human rights. The Green New Deal aims to reduce harmful emissions into the atmosphere and eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels. Its provisions also focus on economic development and job training particularly in communities that rely on jobs in the fossil fuel industry. Black and brown communities are often more greatly impacted by air pollution, unclean drinking water, and other environmental hazards. The Green New Deal seeks to address and correct these historic and long-standing inequities by focusing on environmental, economic, and racial justice issues.

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