1.Do you consider the increased concentration of economic wealth in the United States to be corrosive to our democracy? If yes, how should this issue be addressed? If not, why not?
Yes I consider the concentration of wealth, as well as poverty, to be a problem. The current administration in Washington is sadly and alarmingly taking actions to increase this separation, both in geographically and in terms of those who holds and lacks of the wealth itself. We are addressing this issue continuously in the Legislature. Each of the education, justice, and workforce policies we have passed have elements in them that address access and fairness to the socio-economically disadvantaged. As well, in all tax decisions we are working to be sure that the top 5% of wealth holders pay at least their fair share of taxes and are not further protected under the federal changes in the tax law.
2. What are your thoughts on social democracy?
I will address social justice here. We have taken significant steps, which I have fully supported, to decriminalize some non-violent crimes and help with expungement of records in cases where laws have changed. We have also worked to create opportunities for ex-offenders so that they may have a good chance of successful and productive after their incarceration. We have also supported bail reform away from cash bail systems that inequitably incarcerate those of lesser means prior to trial based only on their inability to pay and not on their danger and flight risk assessment.
3. Racial discrimination continues to plague our nation. This is evident in our workforce (hiring practices, income disparities, opportunities for advancement, etc…), in the administration of our criminal justice system, in systemic efforts to disenfranchise voters based on race, in the relative dearth of substantive environmental protections for communities where people of color constitute a large percentage of the population, and in other facets of American life. What steps can and should be taken to address these issues?
The systematic nature of the racial as well as ethnic and socio-economic discrimination is entrenched. Many who enjoy the privilege that goes with this do not want to see it challenged. We do this consistently in the legislature. In the area of housing we are working to pass non-discrimination based on source of income. In public transportation where the governor continues to put up barriers to equal access and availability, we are working to create fair systems of prioroty. In education, we are constantly finding ways to level the playing field, trying to keep a zip code from being a predictor of educational quality by increasing spending and programs in the most needy areas.
4. Thinking about the principles of liberty and equality, and this can apply to any given challenge (fiscal, social, etc…), how can they both be promoted to ensure that the “unalienable rights” of all Americans are protected?
I have, as previously mentioned, been part of justice reform we have embraced and continue to work toward. I will also cite our efforts to create a safe Maryland for our immigrant population.
5. Let’s assume that something called “class warfare” exists. If so, who has been winning? For how long? And in whose interest is it to continue the war?
There is no winner in class warfare, The victory will be when there is class peace and each person can enjoy a full and productive life. Our current president, unfortunately, is an full example of the current winner in the current battle of that war. And we must stop his assault on the poor.
6. Considering the UN’s sustainable development goals which refer to gender equality as a “fundamental human right,” how is America performing when it comes to promoting gender equality and what specific steps can and should be taken to secure true gender equality in the United States?
We are making progress, set back a bit by the current DC administration. Ironically, the attitudes displayed toward women has energized women and all of us to stand up for progress on gender equity. We have been taking action here in Maryland. As an example, we are forwarding legislation that would not allow a prospective employer to inquire about pay scale in a previous job. a measure that will help break the cycle of unequal pay and compensation.
7. Many LGBTQIA Americans have expressed concerns that the current Administration (and those who view the world similarly) are dedicated to rolling back recent legal protections fought for, and recognized, in this country. What steps can and should be taken to safeguard the rights of LGBTQIA citizens to participate fully in the “pursuit of happiness” stated in our Declaration of Independence?
We must, just as in my previous answer, celebrate our past victories and channel the negative energy of the current federal administration into positive defense and action by the LGBTQ community and all of us. There should be no barriers to this community to pursue and happy and productive life.