Voter guide: Talmadge Branch

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?

● Special Assistant to Congressman Parren J. Mitchell


● 25 years in House of Delegates

● Current House Majority Whip


● Former Chair of the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus

● Former Vice Chair of Appropriations

● Former Chair of the Joint Committee on Welfare Reform

● Former Vice Chair of Maryland Democratic Party


Why are you running for office?

I am running for office to fill the void in leadership left by the Late Congressman Elijah Cummings. The 7th Congressional District needs a leader with the skills, experience, and connections to bring the resources back to the district. I want to put my 25 years of legislative experience to work on Capitol Hill.


How do you assess Elijah Cummings’ representation of the 7th District? What would you do differently?

Congressman Elijah Cummings served honorably and he represented the district extremely well. Notably, his office was excellent with constituent services. What I would differently is I would use my legislative experience from my years on the Appropriations committee to bring more Federal resources to the 7th District.


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

The Trump Administration has been shortsighted and divisive in many instances especially as it relates to immigration issues and environmental issues such as the Paris Climate Agreement. One of the few good things that Trump can be credited with is that he presided over the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. One of the many bad things that his administration has done is the outright evil practice of family separation caused by his immigration policies.


Based on what you’ve seen, is there sufficient evidence to impeach?

No response submitted.


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 really hurt small businesses, entrepreneurs, and families but have benefited large corporations thus far. Many small businesses have ended up with higher tax bills because certain tax deductions have been removed. Lower income individuals also feel a negative impact because families with children will pay higher taxes due to the higher standard deduction. I do not support the tax cuts.


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?

The level of economic inequality in the United States is a problem because the middle class has been eroded and people aren’t earning enough to support their families. So, it is essential that the Federal government addresses this pervasive problem by focusing on legislation to rebuild the middle class, like raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, increasing funding for educational and skill training opportunities, and revising the Federal poverty level.


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

The Federal Gun Laws should be tweaked in a way that will effectively help us reduce the number of mass shootings without infringing on our second amendment rights. Beyond that, we need to increase funding to the ATF to improve their methods and increase their personnel so they can do more to keep illegal guns off our streets.


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?

I believe Congress needs to expand the Affordable Care Act to include the public option which would lower the cost of the healthcare plans available. They should also remove the tax penalty for those who cannot afford to carry health insurance.


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

The Federal Government has a responsibility to help cities address the major problems they are faced with, especially issues related to housing, public safety, and infrastructure. As Congressman, I would use my skills and experience to bring back more money to Baltimore City to help us curtail our out-of-control crime problem and save lives.


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?

I do support the legislation but I would go further and push to expand the bill because we need every dollar we can get to fight the rampant opioid addictions killing our children.


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?

One of the main changes that needs to be made to our immigration and deportation laws is that it needs provisions that protect children by preventing families from being separated. The DACA program should be preserved because these children were brought to the U.S. as minors and have been living here as law abiding citizens; they should be allowed to work and pursue an education without fear of deportation.


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

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate the Trump Trade War with China a 3 because it has done more to hurt American workers and consumers than anything else. Moreover, it’s not doing a good job at fulfilling the promise of shifting production jobs back to the US.


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

No, I do not support President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran Nuclear deal because the agreement was successfully curtailing nuclear proliferation in Iran. Pulling out of the deal is not conducive to protecting the citizens of our Nation.


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

If we cannot come to a diplomatic agreement for addressing the rise of North Korea’s Nuclear program, we must be ready and willing to put those nuclear testing facilities out of commission through military action.


How should the United States address climate change?

The United States needs to adhere to the provisions of the Paris Climate Agreement and introduce legislation that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition the nation from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and invest in reforestation initiatives.


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

The Green New Deal is a great idea and while I agree with it, I believe that the details need to be fleshed out and rolled out in a way that is less disruptive to families living paycheck to paycheck.