Candidate name: Craig Rice
Party affiliation: Democrat
Place of residence: Germantown
Date of birth: Sept. 27, 1972
Place of birth: Washington, D.C.
Current occupation: Senior Sales Manager
Education: B.S. in computer science, University of Maryland, College Park
Community associations, involvement: Board of Directors Villages at Town Center; Germantown Alliance; President of the Germantown Democratic Club; NAACP
Professional associations: Victims Services Advisory Board of Montgomery County
Family: Wife, Tia; Two daughters, Anaiya, 4, and Caelyn, 8 months
Campaign office address and telephone: P.O. Box 84164, Gaithersburg, MD 20883-4164
Link to candidate’s web site: http⁄⁄riceformaryland.com
What are your top three priorities for the next four years, if elected?
My top three priorities are education, community, and transportation.
Education: My number one goal in education is to reduce class size. This would create a need for more qualified teachers and more facilities, so any reduction in class size must be coupled with state investment in school construction and teacher pensions. By increasing school construction, we will reduce the use of portables which will benefit teachers and students. Teacher pensions, along with other incentives, will keep Maryland a top destination for educators.
Community: We must restore and maintain the sense of community that makes our county so special to live in. This can be done through increasing political participation through regular town halls and voter access to elected officials, developing community centers, parks, and other facilities, and ensuring that the police have the tools they need to keep our community safe.
Transportation: Upcounty cannot be left out of transportation planning for our region. I support the Corridor Cities Transitway to establish a transit line along 270. I also support continued MARC service to Upcounty. The Administration’s plan to terminate the service line was poorly conceived and did not account for the rapid growth our area is experiencing. As someone who sits in the traffic every day to and from work, I know that our community needs more transit options, not less.
How would you rate the performance of the current representatives of your district: excellent, good, fair or poor? Why?
Senator Garagiola and Delegates Dumais and Feldman have done an excellent job representing us in Annapolis. Delegate Jean Cryor has been erratic, supporting Governor Erlich in Annapolis but talking about her progressive values in the district. Our community deserves a representative who is consistent and clear in their beliefs.
Do you support amending the constitution to give the legislature more budget authority?
Currently, Maryland’s legislature is the most restricted in the country when it comes to amending the Governor’s budget. Some measured reform is in order, including allowing the legislature more power to alter which programs are funded at what levels. In reforming the system, we must avoid creating a DC-style partisan, gridlocked process.
Is the rate of growth in Maryland too fast, too slow or about right, and why?
Maryland’s growth is a sign of economic success. It is not too fast as long as we work to meet the demands this growth places on us. School construction and mass transit are two areas where we must improve in order to meet the increasing population. At the same time, we cannot sacrifice Montgomery County’s Agriculture Reserve and other open spaces to meet these needs.
What programs would you like to add or cut from the state budget? How would you pay for additional programs? What would you do with the money from any cuts you make?
Professionally, I work for Marriott and know how closely businesses watch their budgets.
This type of accountability must be identified at the state level with a line by line review of the state’s budget. That will help determine what programs can be cut, as well as what programs should be expanded or created. Any budget savings should be used to help reduce the state property tax and also be reinvested into successful state programs.
Are there specific taxes or fees that you would cut?
The state property tax should be reduced to lessen the burden on homeowners and rent payers.
Do you support slot machines for Maryland? Why or why not?
I do not support slot machines for Maryland for a number of reasons but the primary one is the business model is flawed. Slots are an empty revenue promise as slots bring roughly $1.90 in social and economic costs for every dollar generated. And surrounding states that see their gambling revenue go down the first year will make changes⁄improvements to ensure they recapture that revenue. The State is then caught in a cyclical process of relying more and more on the gambling industry.
Do you support giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants?
Immigration is a matter that is handled by the federal government, not by the state government. The federal government has decided that certain people should not be in the country, but have done almost nothing about keeping them out. The state cannot do anything about this situation because immigration is a federal matter. Nonetheless, from a practicality perspective if we make them go through the process of getting licenses, they will be better drivers, and will be able to get liability insurance. The argument in opposition is that people who are in the country illegally should not get the same benefits as those who are here legally. But if illegal immigrants don’t deserve a benefit like a driver’s license, doesn’t it also follow that they don’t deserve other benefits - such as police or fire protection, or medical attention? No one is suggesting that these other benefits be denied, so the ‘‘no benefits” argument is applied in a rather selective manner. Therefore the question follows, do you want to punish illegal immigrants, or do you want to make our roads safer as they will most likely drive with or without a license?
Do you support in-state tuition to illegal immigrants?
The federal Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 prohibits public colleges from favoring undocumented students by offering them in-state tuition rates and not extending that offer to U.S. citizens. Therefore we must abide by that policy. At this juncture, I see no reason as a State to try to go against this law.
What is the biggest problem facing higher education and what would you do to solve it?
The biggest problem facing higher education is the rising cost of tuition. We must do a better job of trimming the budget to ensure that especially in our public Universities, we are enabling all people to have financial access to a higher education.
Where would you get more money for the Transportation Trust Fund?
Step one would be making the Transportation Trust Fund truly devoted to transportation projects. Under current law, the Governor can raid the fund for other uses and has done so.
What specific transportation projects do you see as priorities for the state?
The Corridor Cities Transitway is a top priority for the state and our local community. By helping commuters travel north along I-270 but not on the roadway, we will reduce congestion and pollution and improve the quality of life of those living in Upcounty Montgomery and Frederick County.
Should there be a dedicated funding source for Washington and Baltimore mass transit?
I support proposals to dedicate a portion of the sales tax to the regional Metro System, which thousands of Marylanders use to get to and from work. Those funds would be leveraged by contributions from the DC and Virginia governments, and will also trigger substantial federal funding to keep the system running.
Would you re-regulate the electricity industry?
Under de-regulation, electric choice is now available to most Maryland consumers. In the newly restructured electric industry, you are free to choose a competitive supplier while your local utility remains the same. While this works in some areas, other areas don’t afford constituents choices which can lead to less competitive rates. With the latest energy rate crisis, we need to revisit the de-regulation to ensure that all residents are reaping the benefits of de-regulation.
Do you believe Maryland’s gun control laws are too strict, not strict enough or just right?
I passionately agree with the 74% of Marylanders who support a state assault weapons ban since the federal ban has lapsed. I will work to make that a top priority in the next Legislative session.
What is your position on abortion?
I am pro-choice and believe that families, not the government, need to make the difficult decision for themselves.
Should the Maryland constitution be changed to allow same-sex marriages?
I don’t think that we need to change the constitution to allow same-sex marriages. I am in support of civil unions and those constituents receiving the same legal rights as those that are in a heterosexual union, which we refer to as marriage.
Does the state need stricter controls to protect the environment?
We must work to enforce the current laws, especially the recently passed Healthy Air Act. The Healthy Air Act breaks new ground in reducing polluting emissions. Once we evaluate the effectiveness of this new law, we can consider strengthening other environmental laws.
What is your position on the Corridor Cities Transitway? Assuming you support it, do you believe it should be a bus or light-rail system? What would you do to advance its funding?
I support the Corridor Cities Transitway and believe light-rail would be more efficient and have higher ridership. Step one to advance its funding is to protect the transportation trust fund from raids for other programs.
The Upcounty remains one of Montgomery County’s fastest growing areas and a growing crime problem is a concern for residents? What is your plan for providing state support to the local mission of protecting public safety?
Maryland must pass a state RICO statute to help crack down on gangs the way the federal RICE statute helped topple organized crime nationally. The state must also foster joint police activity, and activity with state and federal agencies, because gangs do not begin and end with specific police jurisdictions. I pledge to meet with local police chiefs and the State’s Attorney to help provide for their needs in fighting gangs.