In a special election, voters in Baltimore city, Baltimore County and Howard County will vote to replace the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings for the 7th Congressional District seat. Here are their responses to policy questions in The Baltimore Sun’s voter guide ahead of the Feb. 4 primary.
Previous political experience?
I have 30 years of Parents, Citizen, Youth, Environmental Justice and Consumer Rights Activism and ran for Baltimore City Council in 2007
Why are you running for office?
I want to change the trajectory of the greatness of the district and be a true voice for the people
How do you assess Elijah Cummings’ representation of the 7th District? What would you do differently?
Elijah Cummings was a very popular Congressman who won all of his elections with a plurality. There are a few things that I would do differently from Cummings if elected. I would work build coalitions between the different sections of the 7th Congressional District ( from hence 7CD). From the start I would work to help secure federal supplemental funding to improve public safety by assuring that law enforcement had all the necessary equipment to perform their jobs effectively. Second, I would use the influence of my office to combat environmental injustice in particular lead poisoning in 7CD. Third, I would work in the Congress avoiding partisan politics to secure funding for major infrastructure/transportation projects to spur growth and development. Fourth, I will use my office to help provide oversight for federal funds being brought to the region. Fifth, I would work tirelessly to push for greater funding of the Small Business Administration Programs and help small and mid-sized businesses get access to capital and credit—demanding that all banks and lending institutions comply with the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. I will be a champion to defend the rights of homeowners and be a voice to those facing foreclosure and other financial challenges. My administration would work to make sure that everyone willing to work and play by the rules in 7CD have a equal chance to enjoy the American Dream.
How do you assess the Trump administration so far? Name at least one positive and one negative.
The Trump Administration has had a mixed review from many Americans. One of his pluses that he is serious about the economy. Our economy is strong. Something that is not good is his manner of communicating with people he does not like. An example is his harsh relationship with the press.
Based on what you’ve seen, is there sufficient evidence to impeach?
The Constitution has assigned the powers of determining whether to impeach a president to the United States Senate. I, as all Americans, will be watching to see what that body decides regarding the charges that the Congress has made against President Trump. This has been a very partisan process and it might well end that way wherein the Republican-controlled Senate swats down the Democratically-controlled Congresses ratified articles of impeachment.
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?
While the richest Americans loved Trump’s tax reform bill, it remains unpopular with scores of millions of ordinary American people. Trump was premature giving tax breaks to the richest Americans when he campaigned promising to rebuild the infrastructure of the country. This is a promise that has not be kept thus far. Locally, Trump’s tax reform eliminated the SALT deduction that so many in the 7th congressional district relied on. On the other hand, Trump’s First Step Act has been an olive branch to many who have been victims of mass incarceration policies of the Clinton-era that have been especially hurtful to Black Americans, and this bold step will influence the states to rethink their criminal justice policies. In addition, I believe that Trump’s New Trade deal is going to be a great thing for American workers.
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?
Yes, income inequality is a problem in the United States. We need to make certain that the access to credit and capital is more fair and that any system that unfairly denies American citizens the means to develop themselves be removed and outlawed. We should make certain that every American has the necessary skills to find work or resources to become self-employed. Comprehensive programs that provide skills, job training, and provide entrepreneurial training should be free and available to all Americans so they all can take advantage of the emerging job markets, and we do need a realistic minimum wage that lifts a full-time worker out of abject poverty.
Should federal gun laws be changed, and if so, how and why?
Yes, some federal gun laws should be changed if they can be determined detrimental and counterproductive. We must preserve our 2nd Amendment rights while protecting all citizens from violent gun crime and domestic terrorists. We can have the rights to bear arms and restrict and limit gun access to persons who purchase firearms legally to commit violent acts against fellow citizens.
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?
Congress should work to make the ACA better. A reasonable reform of the ACA would not limit the geographical territory wherein an insurance plan or benefit can be purchased or provided coverage. ACA must be made into a program that limits runaway cost of health care as well as health insurance. There also needs to be transparency
What role should the federal government play in helping cities? What, if anything, would you do for Baltimore, specifically?
We have to invest capital in our cities just like we did with the suburbs in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and thereafter. Baltimore needs to pull together our federal partners to turn the city around. HUD could come in with grants to rebuild many of the blighted areas. HUD also owes the city for their role in lead paint poisoning. DOT could help provide funding for many of our streets to be repaved. We have a gem that is the port, and we should be finding ways to trade with Africa and Central America which would create new sustainable jobs for many in Baltimore.
Do you back 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! Cummings proposed bill to spend $10 billion annually to combat opioid addiction is a start, but many billions more will be necessary. The opioid addiction issue is a national crisis, and it is hard to place a price tag on scores of thousands of deaths annually. If elected I will take up this fight. We have seen what addiction has done to our city. We must fight to save the lives of our residents that need help
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?
Congress needs to fix our broken immigration system that honors Americans and those that properly participate in the legal process called immigration.
How would you rate the Trump administration’s trade stance with China and why?
One hopes that this trade negotiation that Trump has engaged in will benefit Americans. Trump is correct in that China takes advantage of America’s lax trade policies, but many other nations do as well. What is needed is a true economic program for the rebuilding of America’s industrial base.
Do you support the president’s decision to pull out of Iran nuclear deal? Why or why not?
Trump leaving the P5+1 might please the hard line anti-Iranian faction of the party, but this cost the USA important leverage and good faith with the Islamic Republic of Iran that is unlikely to be replaced and there was no working plan that Trump put on the table to prevent nuclear proliferation by Iran.
How should the United States address the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program?
We should deal with North Korea through its patron the Peoples’ Republican of China. Trump must convince China to cut off North Korea from critical supplies from which nuclear development can be pursued until they return to the peace talks as serious honest brokers.
How should the United States address climate change?
We should be leading the way in new technology. We have to be more efficient, but we have to deal with the damage already done.
Do you support the Green New Deal? Why or why not?
I do not support the Green New Deal. Although there are some things like grocery stores in public housing that I like, it has become a panacea and catch all for all of the lefts dreams not about specifically handling the climate crisis.