1. What would your top priorities be as an elected official?
Promotion of Economic Growth by investing in our transportation, energy and communication infrastructure, and updating our tax code. We must invest in innovation to foster start-up businesses that will spearhead Maryland’s superiority in technology.
• Education is the Foundation to Combat Poverty. We must improve our educational and training programs to ensure a properly prepared workforce for careers, while closing the achievement gap, particularly among people of color.
• Environmental issues are Social Issues. Advocating for Private-Public partnerships to educate our residents about the vital need of protecting our environment.
2. Why should people vote for you instead of your opponents?
I have a proven record on a variety of issues, including family economic security policies, job growth, quality education for all, access to health care, women’s rights, labor rights and immigrant rights. Moreover, I have demonstrated to be an effective leader to pass legislation and create public support on issue-based campaigns. For example, since 2002, I have been working with CASA de Maryland as a lobbyist and communication expert on the Maryland DREAM Act; it took us 10 years to pass the MD DREAM Act and then it went through a successful Referendum in 2012. Through my PR company, I have managed local and national campaigns for advocacy groups, including Amnesty International, MomsRising.org, CASA de Maryland, the national effort that removed Lou Dobbs from CNN, the Montgomery County Latino Health Initiative, SEIU, Iron Workers Union, the Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare, and the United Nations Global Conference on Migration and Development.
3. What do you think of Maryland’s state budget? If you think there should be cuts, where should they be? If spending should increase, where is it needed?
As presented, the current budget convenes the current demands of our state. However, we must continue to find ways to decrease ineffective expenditure practices such as redundant agencies and labor categories that hamper the fluidity and growth of our economy. Bolstering our Pre-K-12/STEM financing will unquestionably help us regain our nationwide lead in education and it will pave the way for future growth. Furthermore, additional funding should be allocated to enhance innovation, human capital, infrastructure, and business creation to champion our progress in a post recession Maryland.
4. What changes, if any, would you make to Maryland’s tax structure?
Maryland’s tax structure its inherently complex. This places our state at a disadvantage since we are constantly failing to collect the appropriate individual revenue and discouraging the establishment of corporations that could drastically improve our liquidity. A Maryland tax reform is imperative to create a pro-growth environment. An improved tax code will provide certainty for individuals and businesses as well as an efficient source of revenue for essential government investments and services. I support creating a commission on tax policy reform our outdated tax structure so it is adjusted to our economic reality, while attracting capital investment and innovation, as well as empowering Maryland families.
5. What should the state’s transportation priorities be?
Improving our transportation infrastructure is part of having quality of life for all our residents. As a business owner, I understand that quality infrastructure is a key factor for businesses when deciding where to invest and create jobs. Therefore, we need to invest in fixing the roads that are in mediocre condition and reduce congestion by supporting projects such as the Purple Line. Furthermore, it is crucial to understand that access to new roads, subways, and light rails must be affordable. Otherwise, we are never going to achieve our traffic reduction goals.
6. What, if any, is the government’s role in helping residents get back on track in the wake of the recession? What level should the minimum wage be?
The government must create policy solutions to widespread unemployment and rising income insecurity. This is fundamental to ensure economic strength for families and the state. Maryland has an important role to play in supporting private sector efforts to strengthen our economy, but, in doing so, it must ensure that the benefits of its actions are shared among all Marylanders. Regarding the minimum wage, it should be indexed to inflation so all working families can have quality of life.
7. Should marijuana be legal in Maryland for medicinal or recreational use?
I support the decriminalization of marijuana; it should be legalized and taxed.
8. What is the most pressing environmental issue in Maryland? How would you address it?
I am a strong believer that the most pressing environmental issue in Maryland, and in our nation, is the lack of initiative to educate our population on the vital importance of protecting our environment. Our consumerist culture is the elephant in the room when it comes to solving today’s big environmental issues, such as pollution of air, water and soil by chemical compounds that take many years to disintegrate. It is vital to shift our children from a culture of consumerism, which is a key factor in driving environmental degradation, to one that embraces sustainability.