2016 Voters Guide
As a service to our readers, The Business Monthly has asked candidates running for office in our coverage area to provide responses to short questionnaires. Their responses follow verbatim.
United States Senate Candidates
1. How does your experience prepare you for this office?
2. Where do you stand on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and what are your feelings on global free trade as opposed to protectionism?
3. What is your position on immigration reform?
4. What issues do you consider priorities?
Kathy Szeliga (R):
1. As a Maryland small business owner, I know what it means to sign the front of a paycheck and how to balance a budget. We need more small business owners in Washington who know what businesses need to grow and thrive — not more career politicians who only know how to write more onerous regulations. My experience as a small business owner will allow me to bring some much-needed business sense to Washington, and kick start our nation’s economy and create more jobs for Americans.
2. I support free trade, so long as it is fair trade. Our government needs to create economic stability within our borders before signing new trade agreements. However, I have serious problems with the Trans-Pacific Partnership as it currently stands because it doesn’t provide the proper protections to American companies and workers.
3. The first step to reforming our nation’s immigration system is properly securing our borders. We cannot repair our immigration system until we can halt the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. Once the border is secure, Congress can looking into reforming our visa process and our path to citizenship for legal immigrants.
4. One of my top priorities would be to get the federal budget under control. Our national debt is more than $19 trillion and is only getting worse. We cannot leave this kind of terrible legacy for our children and grandchildren to clean up. And as the daughter of a veteran, reforming the VA will be one of my top priorities. The federal government’s failure to honor its promises to our nation’s veterans is a stain on our nation and it must be corrected.
Chris Van Hollen (D): Did not respond.
Margaret Flowers (G): Did not respond.
Bob Robinson (D/Write-In): Did not respond.
Charles Smith (D/Write-In): Did not respond.
Lih Young (D/Write-In):
1. Ph.D./economist/researcher; reformer/advocate/activist; TV programs producer/host/speaker: social issues, local-global; Candidate for public offices since 1994, local, federal; Profiled in Marquis’ “Who’s Who in America”, “Who’s Who in Business and Finance”; Participated in White House Conference on Small Business. Numerous TV programs: Citizen Times (MCT, about 100 episodes, one hour each); Freedom Times (FPA, about 100 episodes; one hour each), Twilight of Judiciaries (I, II, III), Federal Shambles (1, 2), Working Class, Faith Revival, Conscience, Freedom, Global Affairs, On Taxation, On Equality, Democracy and Humanity, Struggle against Inhumanity, Around Capital Around Us, etc. Experience: U. S. Department: Health/Human Services; National Center for Health Services Research; Office of Family Assistance. Won decade-long litigation against US DHHS, high up to US Supreme Court, but still no proper resolution, remedies. Adjunct professor, Bloomfield College, N.J; Bank of China, Taiwan, private tutor; math, foreign language. Super-mom, -woman, victim-turned superhuman against the “ROBBERISM”= government gang- official misconduct-MURDER- FRAUD- CRIME-INJUSTICE NETWORK” operation; private- public sectors; 3 branches, local- federal-global. Children: Albert, PhD, MIT (double major in physics/math in 3 years; first place in NJ state-wide math competition; first place in Maryland. Janice, MA, MIT. Effectively raised the family; turned them around, when schools had failed them.
2. OPPOSE: United States’ involvement in “unfair” “free trade agreements”, including TPP containing unjust provisions like “Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)”, which allow the corporate power grab at the heart of the TPP. Corporations in each state would be empowered by the TPP to launch ISDS cases against the U.S. government for taxpayer money. Such provisions are usually treated like hidden agenda, and suppressed when TPP are propagandized by civic groups, think tanks, and universities. Note that the provision would grant new rights to thousands of foreign corporations to sue the U.S. government before a panel of three or a few corporate lawyers. These lawyers would be able to award the corporations unlimited sums to be paid by America’s taxpayers, including for the loss of expected future profits. And these foreign corporations need only convince the lawyers that a U.S. law or safety regulation violates their TPP rights. Their decisions would not be subject to appeal, and the amount awarded would have no limit.
3. SUPPORT: Comprehensive immigration reform; “DREAM act” for education, potential productivity/services. Promote humanity, productivity, justice, peace. Prosecute/eliminate “ROBBERISM= government gang- official misconduct-MURDER- FRAUD- CRIME- INJUSTICE NETWORKS” operation, unjust practices, victimization, deprivation, destruction; threat, coercion; unjust arrest, detention, torture. Speedy processing for application/replacement of citizen cards; reduce fees. Provide learning facilities/services; education, language, communication; allow immigrants better integrate into American society. Prevent racial profiling; victimizing/depriving/destroying/damaging/suppressing lives, resources, human rights; documents, properties; evidence, witnesses; false/unjust arrest/detention/ imprisonment/ bail/bond; inhumane treatment; torture/abuse/misuse of health services, facilities, hospitals, rehabilitation/behavioral/mental health centers (disguised as prisons with outrageous charges to individuals, families; Medicare, veteran benefits and government. OPPOSE: denying citizenship to children born on American; changes on the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution; on citizenship by birth right; E-Verify, …to discriminate/victimize/obstruct/harass work-force, especially minorities/ethnic groups/immigrants, as misguided/propagandized by BAD guys; enforcement of federal immigration laws by state and local police.
4. The most urgent serious social issues: “ROBBERISM”= government gang- official misconduct-MURDER- FRAUD- CRIME- INJUSTICE NETWORKS” operation = bad guy propaganda to help/benefit/self-promotion among themselves; victimize others = destroying freedom/fairness/democracy; continuing, on-going; expanding; penetrating every segment of our lives, including civic non-profit, women, minorities, churches, nonsense studies, proposals, block grants, “think tanks”, etc. OPPOSE PUBLIC FINANCE MATCHING SMALL DONORS FUND – falsely named “Fair Election Act”, “Government by the People”… whatever. It is simply “Government by Bad Guys”. Oppose Supreme Court decisions on Citizen-united, and on McClucheon on election campaign, Koch Brothers Dark money, super PAC. Televise citizen/candidate forum/debate; maintain, disseminate meaningful accurate information, records, capability, reasoning, good sense of justice, public interest, endurance. Objective evaluation/screening by meaningful rigorous examinations, evaluations for quality, capability. Current congress, agencies have failed to properly consider factors, constraints, cost-effectiveness, priorities, social needs; incompetence, conspiracy, falsification, false excuses; bad legal counsels, consultants, advisors; abuse/violate good laws, regulations, constitutions; victimize/ discriminate/deprive LIVES, rights, reputation, resources, assets, time, properties, home, cars, opportunities, employment (individual, families, business, political, civic, affiliation; candidacy, voting, residence, activities…); improper processing of complaints, procedures, proceedings; bad lobbyists/proposals/legislation; unjust propaganda/campaigns/ elections; bias/prejudice/falsification/manipulation; local political clubs to national parties, election boards, civic entities, etc.
Greg Dorsey (Unaffiliated):
1. I do not come from a political family, I am not independently wealthy, I am not a lawyer and I was not a “Political Science” major. What I am is a small business owner, a music educator and an athletic instructor. What has “prepared” me for this office? My experiences as a music educator and an athletic instructor have provided me with research skills, communication skills, listening skills and presentation skills (and music performance has provided me with empathy, objectivity, creativity and sensitivity). My experiences as a small business owner have provided me with a clear understanding of budget vs. revenue and a sense of “monetary efficiency and effectiveness”.
That being said, my most valuable experience, being a life-long and staunch independent, would be to offer you a true “public servant mindset”: the ability to approach any issue, and the ensuing discussions and debates, with absolute objectivity, and without questionable or devious influence; to do a term or “limited terms” and go back to my previous career; to not become a self-serving “career” politicians comfortably immersed in a partisan power struggle with tremendous aspirations of upward mobility within said “establishment” rank and file.
2. If our free trade agreements were so successful how come we as a nation are dealing with stagnant wages, a growing national debt, contracting manufacturing, a growing trade deficit, failing infrastructure and growing poverty while it seems that only the financial elite (that 1%) are obtaining and securing the majority of our wealth gains? With small nonemployer type businesses becoming the norm and the majority, who will these trade pacts benefit? BUT, full on protectionism, especially within this “post globalization” world condition, does not seem to be the answer either. I would support legislative incentives (grants, PPP’s, minimal/zero interest loans, philanthropic tax incentives, state and federal corporate income tax incentives) designed to inspire “local and regional” business growth and expansion (excluding international corporations heavily relying on outsourcing and overseas manufacturing) as to create the jobs and wage growth that will be necessary to procure a successful American middle class – a widespread and abundant tax base. I would support a WALL STREET TRADING TAX to pay for such programs and incentives.
So in essence, without full on protectionism, I would spend far less time campaigning for international trade pacts and focus on local and regional business growth and expansion.
3. Much attention will need to be given to the future restructuring of our US immigration system as a whole. Number 1.) America’s immigration system is considered to be slow-moving and outdated. Number 2.) There are over 12-13 million illegal immigrants inside our nation’s borders that have no plans for “self-deportation” or to return to their country of origin. I would have considered supporting 2013 Senate Bill 744. The “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act”. This bill addressed both sides of the immigration debate and was an actual glimmer of hope with regards to bipartisan discussion and debate on Capitol Hill as the authors, the original “gang of eight”, were comprised of four Republicans and four Democrats. S. 744 was passed in the Senate but easily failed to reach the House floor. Penalties, back taxes, strengthening our borders, solidifying E-Verify, permanent “W” visas, restructuring court processes, expanding permanent visas for the highly skilled, welcoming investors and entrepreneurs, among many other talking points; S. 744 was bipartisan Democracy at work.
4. Fiscal responsibility and government efficiency. Environmentally concerned. The ACA is failing our American middle class. The “war on drugs” has failed. Pro 2nd amendment. Good Government reform: Campaign finance reform. Eliminate gerrymandering. Congressional term limitations. Supreme Court term limitations. Electoral College reform. Dismantle professional lobbying.
Ed Tinus (Unaffiliated):
The questions that you are asking me to answer would express only my opinion. This campaign does not move toward what I can and will do for the voters in Maryland. As you will read on the attachment. This campaign will grant authority to the voters so they would play a direct role with my representation. “Citizens and Government working together”.
Although your last question is applicable to this campaign. I will respond to it. You see I am not proclaiming to be more experienced, smarter, nor the better spokesmen then the other candidates. In fact this campaign is running on a platform to change the coarse of a progressive movement of politics that has carried this nation away from being the USA. The Nation that men fought and died for is fading away. This campaign is the only plan that will return us to the republic of what we are. Every one I talk to simply states “This is how we should be.” What I have written here does not mean that the positive advancements we as a nation. Regarding social and political at home or abroad will be dismissed. Although it will give the equal distribution of powers as the constitution dictates to both forms of government. Separating them once again to enable proper jurisdictional representation for the voters in Maryland. This will Make The Great State of Maryland, Great again! Setting a coarse for the rest of our Nation to follow. In fact you can simply print the attachment along with this e-mail as my response to your Voters Guide.
God’s word is true, and His truth is universal that stands with the test of time. A nation formed under the precepts from the words of God’s truth will stand with the test of time.
In 1787, the motion of the electoral vote would have been struck down if they had the technology of today. The electoral election process would not have been written into our Constitution and Bill of Rights. NOW IT IS TIME TO BE BRAVE!
As a Republic, currently “We The People” elect our Senators. Where we should also elect our President. We have the technology today, that in this Generation 42 citizens and government can work together. That as a Republic citizen can govern government as intended by our founding fathers. We can in these modern times restore the dream our founding fathers gave We the People of these United States.
As your Senator I will be bound to uphold and defend the Constitution and The Bill of Rights. As your transparent representative, I will use the internet to search the will of the voters and formulate a uniform question of Yea or Nay subject to a Public vote. A vote made from the comfort of your own home on every issue.
My final vote will be between God and me alone. A God that holds me accountable to every word that proceeds from my mouth. A vote that may send men to war to defend our freedom. You see. Your life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness rests in your hands. I will insure that we are no longer subjects to a federal government that has progressively assumed authority over our States authority, and over our Rights. Micro managing our lives, even to the point to where one can relief themselves?
I stand before you as the only U.S, Senate candidate in this Presidential election that will surrender the authority of governance to a Public vote as the Constitution dictates. Currently corporations regulate, write policies, and determine how our government regulates us for profits?
In this generation we can have a voice in Congress. Do your part this is your civic duty. Insure that our future generations of citizens living the dream of this biblically formed Nation. A dream of truth. The Republic is at hand. Do you want it back? Then take it!
I have a dream that you have a dream
United States Congress Candidates
1. How does your experience prepare you for this office?
2. Where do you stand on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and what are your feelings on global free trade as opposed to protectionism?
3. What is your position on immigration reform?
4. What issues do you consider priorities?
Congressional District 2
Pat McDonough (R): Did not respond.
Dutch Ruppersberger (D, Incumbent):
1. An attorney by trade, I began my career as a prosecutor and managed a payroll in my law practice. I have served in public office for nearly 30 years, first as a Baltimore County Councilman, then as Baltimore County Executive, where I managed a workforce of 20,000 and was recognized for financial management and job creation.
Since, I have served seven terms in Congress, developing a reputation for working across the aisle on common sense legislation. I have expertise in national security as a 12-year veteran of the House Intelligence Committee and I have traveled to more than 50 countries to better my understanding of the challenges our country faces in foreign policy.
As a long-time Appropriator, I have experience allocating hundreds of billions of federal dollars each year and I have a proven track record of working to ensure Maryland and my district gets its fair share of the pie.
I have spent my time in Congress building one of the best team of caseworkers in the country. My office has helped thousands of families and businesses navigate the federal bureaucracy. We place a special emphasis on helping small business, which supports two of every three jobs in Maryland.
2. I am opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a position consistent with my decisions on other recent free trade agreements, such as NAFTA. I believe these have hurt the U.S. labor market, cost us valuable middle-class jobs and have provided few benefits to the businesses in my district.
One example of a business in our district that would be hurt by the TPP is OnGuard Industries, a footwear manufacturer located in Havre de Grace that supports hundreds of jobs. The TPP would allow for a huge influx of inferior, rival products from China and Vietnam to flood the U.S. market, directly competing with OnGuard products.
While we must recognize that our economy is global, our first priority shouldn’t just be jobs, but American jobs.
3. We must first work to prevent illegal immigration by securing our borders. I supported construction of the fence and have championed funding for more border agents, U.S. Marshals and surveillance equipment.
That said, we can’t just deport our way out of the problem. We don’t have the manpower to deport each and every one of the 11 million illegal immigrants present in our country today. While I do not support amnesty, I believe we should establish a rigorous “legal status” process for immigrants who meet certain requirements similar to the system created by the bipartisan reform package passed in the Senate. This included paying back taxes, plus a penalty, and passing a background check.
We are also a state that relies on immigrants to support some of our most important industries, such as new researchers at NIH and Johns Hopkins, tech innovators along the I-295 corridor, hotel owners around our military bases and H1-B workers to pick blue crabs. Too often, we educate and train foreign students to be world-class businessmen and women only to lose them to other countries where they set up shop and compete with us. We need to reform our Visa system to prevent this.
4. Job creation and the economy are still the top issues for most Americans and my constituents. I have direct experience recruiting new business and jobs to the district and managed a payroll in my private law practice. As a Congressman, I work directly with employers, big and small, to learn how federal policy impacts their bottom line.
I believe the middle class needs to make more money, which is why I support extending the Bush tax cuts for most American families. I support investing in infrastructure to create jobs and update America’s aging transportation system, as well as investing in medical research at Maryland-based institutions. I also believe we need to look out for small businesses, which support 2 of every 3 jobs in Maryland. I have supported tax incentives to grow and hire.
In my district, I have been working to support major redevelopment projects including Sparrows Point, which will be the future home of FedEx and Under Armour’s global distribution center. I am also focused on our booming cybersecurity industry, which is facing a workforce shortage and needs help finding qualified workers to fill positions. That is why education and job training will always be top priorities for me.
Kristin Kasprzak (L): Did not respond.
Congressional District 3
Mark Plaster (R):
1. As someone who started a magazine in my basement on a picnic table and a dot-matrix printer and developed it into multi-million dollar publishing company, I understand what it takes to start a business. I scored a “10” on the NFIB questionnaire, while my opponent scored a “zero”. Small businesses are the largest generator of new jobs, especially for women and minorities. Lack of capital due to the regulatory burden of Dodd-Frank has been a stumbling block for new business along with regulatory burden that increases compliance costs without return on that investment. I’ll work to trim regulations that don’t make sense, free up capital by reforming or eliminating Dodd-Frank, and support changes to the tax code that help small businesses and start-ups to be competitive.
2. I favor bilateral trade agreements over multi-lateral trade agreements. Free trade is great, but it has to be fair to both countries. TPP still allows China an unfair trade advantage in some sectors. I would not support it in it’s current form. Protectionist steps are only appropriate to counter unfair competition created by situations such as currency manipulation.
3. Immigration reform starts with enforcing the currents laws, stopping illegal immigration across our borders through a fully enforced impermeable barrier, and using biometric screening to find and deport illegal immigrants who have overstayed their visas. I do not support banning any immigrant from coming into this country based exclusively on their religion. However, I do support banning anyone who, through deep vetting, is found to ascribe to practices that are counter to American values and constitution and would use the shield of religious freedom to oppress the freedoms and rights of others.
4. My highest priorities are first to reform the VA to care for our veterans who have sacrificed for this country. The second, is to reinvigorate our economy through removing barriers to small business, regulatory and tax. And my third, strengthen our national security through a stronger cybersecurity sector and stronger military.
John Sarbanes (D, Incumbent): Did not respond.
Eze Nnabu (G): Did not respond.
Ann Dalrymple (D Write-In): Did not respond.
Congressional District 7
Corrogan Vaughn (R): Did not respond.
Elijah Cummings (D, Incumbent):
1. Howard Univ.(Phi Beta Kappa 1973). Univ.Maryland Law School (JD 1976). Practicing attorney – 20 years. Md General Assembly (14 years – Speaker Pro Tem). U.S. House of Representatives (1996 – ). Oversight & Government Reform (Ranking Democrat), Joint Economic, Transportation and Benghazi Committees, Congressional Black Caucus (Past Chair). Lifetime 7th Dist. Maryland resident.
2. I have long supported the concept of freer trade among nations. Still, free trade is not “free” to America’s working families unless it also is fair trade.
I appreciate that the Administration may have other, geopolitical reasons for its proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).
However, I am not convinced that the proposal will help – not hurt – our employment, income and economic development challenges here in this country.
I voted against the “fast track,” up or down vote process by which this proposal will be reviewed by the Congress — and, with all due respect to the backers, I think that “fast track” was a mistake.
I will continue to review the TPP proposal, but it appears that TPP will not create more jobs than it costs our country, protect the environment nor ensure safe imports.
For these reasons, I am inclined to vote against its adoption by the Congress.
3. I support comprehensive immigration reform to better secure our boarders, protect workers against abuse, limit the downward pressure on wages, and unify families.
We need immigration reform that will ensure strong border security, reasonable financial penalties, and a path to legal residency for the nearly 12 million undocumented workers already here in the U.S.
In the near term, I have co-sponsored legislation to increase the number border patrol officers, improve security on the southern border, and create a reasonable pathway to permanent residency status.
We must also do more to enforce sanctions against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
However, with more than 12 million people here illegally, enforcement alone will not solve the problem.
A combination of stronger border security, reasonable financial penalties, and a path to legal residency will allow us to regain our territorial sovereignty.
4. From the perspective of Maryland’s business community, many of my most relevant contributions arise from my work as a Senior Member of the House Transportation Committee.
Our roads and port, as well as our airport, rail lines and mass transit, have always been at the heart of Maryland’s economy.
Last December, after years of temporary measures, we finally were able to enact a five-year, bipartisan surface transportation funding bill.
The $305 Billion “Fixing America’s Surface Infrastructure Act allocates $225 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to highways and $60.9 billion for mass transit through fiscal 2020.
This will allow state and local transportation planners the certainty – and the funding – that they need to get the job done.
More generally, I am working for legislation that “speaks to the center of people’s lives.”
That “center,” as the late Senator Paul Wellstone once reminded us, includes a good education, health security, living-wage jobs, protecting our environment, and defending human rights.
Key initiatives toward this end include policies that encourage the creation of more 21st Century jobs by investing in American manufacturing, exports, sustainable energy and innovation.
Myles Hoenig (G):
1. Not being in politics, nor ever holding public office, fully qualifies me for the position if my goal is to bring radical reform to the Congress. As a veteran public school teacher, leader in my field, a community, peace and justice activist, I feel I am more fully attuned to the needs of my district than the incumbent. What has been a great problem with our representatives is that they are so entrenched in party politics that they’ve lost all connections to everyday people and our concerns and interests. They are too comfortable eating at the trough of special interests to know what’s happening in our streets.
One example that highlights the disconnect is that in Baltimore City there are fourteen neighborhoods with a life expectancy lower than N. Korea. Eleven of them are in the 7th District. This is shameful and any Congress member who represents this district ought to be making this the highest of priorities.
Furthermore, as one who endorses Jill Stein of the Green Party, I fully back her platform of NO to the TPP, NO to the War on Drugs, and No to endless war, all supported by the incumbent.
2. The TPP is a direct threat to our environment, our labor, small businesses, and our sovereignty. The very idea that any powerful corporation can take a community, a city, even a country to court for enacting laws that protect its citizens from corporate abuse and win because the judges are themselves corporate lawyers shows how incredibly dangerous the TPP is.
As to free trade, NO. Fair trade, yes. Workers ought to be given a fair wage for a decent day’s labor, not to be exploited by powerful multinational corporations.
3. Immigration reform is necessary. We need to incorporate and help all those desiring to remain and become US citizens. Those who wish to stay and work to help their families back home ought to be supported as well. Why are so many immigrants here in the US? Although the numbers are dropping each year, the turmoil caused by US intervention in their countries is a major cause of the displacement of these people as economic and political refugees.
NAFTA helped to destroy thousands of small villages and the livelihood of millions. They had no choice but to migrate. Under this president we’ve supported the coup in Honduras that has made it one of the most dangerous countries on earth. This coup was opposed by many Latin American countries as well as organizations representing such countries, but the US fully backed it.
We have turned the Middle East into a cauldron of death and destruction with our support of terrorists groups who want to end the regimes of those who we see as our adversaries. We have an obligation to assist these refugees to return to a safe home or provide safe haven here.
4. My priority is to end the corporate welfare state, where corporations, big and small, steal our tax dollars from such essential services like health care, education, infrastructure. We need to shut down the tax loopholes that allow corporations to flee the country to avoid taxes as well as those loopholes that make exporting jobs to countries for the purpose of exploiting labor for a profit illegal.
We need to have a foreign policy based on international law and humanitarianism. No more aid to Israel or Saudi Arabia, the two most destabilizing countries in the Middle East. We need a radical restructuring of our Middle East policies and alignments. NATO must be disbanded as well.
We need to end the stranglehold the health insurance companies have over our health care system. By enacting a Single Payer system (Medicare for All) we can guarantee health care for all and far more affordable than ACA or private insurance.
Lastly, many of our industries need to be nationalized for the good of the population: utilities, transportation, Big Pharma, the banks. Private ownership of such entities puts everyday Americans at the mercy of board of directors whose often sole interest is profit.
William Newton (R-Write-In): Did not respond.
Michael Pearson (R-Write-In): Did not respond/could not be contacted.
Howard County Board of Education
1. How does your experience prepare you for this office?
2. What are the immediate priority issues facing the school board, and what action should the school board be taking to address them?
3. Do you feel any changes are necessary in the way the Howard County Public School System and the Board of Education communicate with, interact with and respond to parents and county residents?
1. I have an MBA and am a CPA with twenty years of accounting and financial experience. The operating budget is more than $800 million and represents more than half of the overall county budget. Financial expertise will help protect the taxpayers of Howard County. Last year, I worked on the Citizens’ Operating Budget Review Committee and delved into this very large budget. We presented our analysis to County Council members. While there was no COBRC this year, I continued advocating and presenting data to the Council for their use in analyzing the current budget.
I also have spent time volunteering in my daughter’s schools both in the classroom and as a PTA member. These experiences have demonstrated the importance of making decisions and spending money in the classroom so our children have access to the best educators and resources. This community and its economy is reliant on the strength of our schools and I want to assure they are strong for future families.
In addition, I serve on the Columbia Town Center Village Board and volunteer with other non-profits and the library. I have worked with the Council and our state representatives on education & other issues.
2. The highest priority item is restoring the trust between the community and the Board of Education. This includes the relationship between educators and the Administration/BOE. The current Board and Superintendent are overwhelming educators with unnecessary burdens such as the Gallup survey and additional standardized testing. Teachers should be focused on their students and these burdens are driving down morale. The next Board must take action to require that monies spent prioritize the daily interactions of student and staff, not trendy fads or public relations.
Part of this also involves decreasing the importance of test scores as school evaluations. School Improvement for a high school should not only be about increasing AP and SAT participation and scores. I attended an Adolescent Mental Health seminar recently and heard directly from HS students that are stressed, not sleeping and self-medicating to achieve at a high level. These students recognize that they are just data points for adults’ resumes. HCPSS should have a more holistic approach that assesses schools on more than test scores. While the County should be proud of high achievement, it should recognize that there is more than just academic achievement.
3. HCPSS and the Board have numerous ways of communicating and use them often – Twitter, Email, etc. The problem is not with the tools, but with how they are used and for what purpose. HCPSS is doing poorly at communicating honestly about problems in our schools. For instance, after a racial incident at a county high school last winter, parents were told not to talk about it and move on. Contrast that with Montgomery County: when similar events occurred during September this year, the superintendent asked for dialogue. His message encouraged parents and students to talk about the problems rather than ignore them. When negative events occur, HCPSS should use them as teachable moments, not attempt to focus on what’s strong.
The Board also shuts down disagreement and uncomfortable questions in their own room. The Superintendent tells elected members that “we don’t have time for that” when they ask questions about special education funding. They say that no public comments that deal with the Superintendent’s contract renewal can be allowed as they are personnel-related, but they allow positive speakers to come forward, while silencing the opposing view. This again points to the need for a rebuilding of trust with the community.
1. I have been an HCPSS parent and volunteer for 13 years. With 3 children in the system and 4 more years to go, I am deeply vested in the educational experience of all students. For 18 months I have been actively advocating on behalf of staff and students for improved air quality and communication. I have spent countless hours reviewing documents, researching bids/contracts, testifying at public forums, engaging the media and local elected officials and most importantly collaborating with parent advocates across the county. Concerns about transparency and records retention led to work on a bill that enjoyed bipartisan support and was signed into law in April. I worked with the MPIA ombudsman and provided her with documentation. Writing letters about building conditions and deferred maintenance caught the attention of the Governor and the IAC will now be paying special attention to how HCPSS earmarks state maintenance funds. All of these efforts began long before I decided to run for BOE. I already have proven results on my campaign platform of transparency, accountability and collaboration – these are not just campaign promises. I know I am prepared for this office. I am already proving it.
2. Budget – I believe we cannot begin to address any other issue without first examining the budget. How much are we really spending on programs categories? Have they become boondoggles and can we shore this up and use the money on more classroom-focused initiatives?
Decreased Class Size/Support – We can’t have discussions about the achievement gap without decreasing class size and increasing para-educator and media support.
Trust/Accountability – Open honest communication and willingness to admit mistakes, own them and work with the community to address them is the only way to build back the trust.
Equity – I believe a school system should be judged on the experiences of its most vulnerable students: special education students living below the poverty line, minorities. It should not matter where you go to school or what challenges you face, every student matters, every student deserves access to equitable facilities and experiences.
3. Yes. Lack of communication and being dismissed by the BOE and HCPSS started me on my path to running for the Board of Education. I will be the board member that our community needed 18 months ago. As it stands, most communication is filtered thru central office. This is not advocacy. Board members should be able to communicate with their constituents without the approval of CO. Constituents are whom we work for and to whom we should be held accountable. I would pursue more open communication forums such as Town Halls, more frequent coffee and conversations at local libraries, and improved mechanisms to ensure all emails are answered in a timely fashion.
1. Everything I have done in my entire professional career has prepared me for becoming a school board member. As an elected member of the Board of Directors for the National Education Association with 3 million members, I’ve met with Maryland’s Congressmen in Washington to ensure passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, and on issues like childhood nutrition and college affordability in addition to working on budgets and programs.
As an elected member of the Board of Directors for the Maryland State Education Association, representing Maryland’s 70,000 members, I have reviewed budgets and programs, and supported Maryland’s legislative agenda for that included less time for testing and more time for teaching, and using public dollars for public schools. Those Board seats ended September 1, 2016.
Other elected positions I’ve held include being Pr,esident of the International Association for Truancy and Dropout Prevention and NEA Delegate to the 7th World Congress of Education International in 2015.
With over 30 years in education, I have been a PTA President, teacher, administrator and educational evaluator. Currently, I’m a Pupil Personnel Worker, problem-solving with students, their families and school staff on a daily basis on special education, discipline, crisis intervention, academic and relationship issues.
2. One of our immediate and most important issues is funding for our schools. This could be addressed by forming a stronger relationship with members of the Howard County Council, the County Executive, and our Maryland General Assembly delegation as we go through the budgeting process. We need to do a better job in working with these groups to make sure that Howard County Public Schools get their fair share of our tax dollars for things like reducing class size to school construction. We also need to allow for more parent and community involvement in the budget process by reinstating the Citizens Operating Budget Review Committee.
3. Absolutely, I think there need to be changes. First we should improve the way the HCPSS staff interact with the Howard County Board of Education members. When requests for information are made by the Board it should be provided in a timely manner. Then, when requests from parents and community members, they should also be addressed in a timely manner. There should be no need for them to resort to using MPIAs. This has been a particular concern with the HCPSS budget, special education issues and school disciplinary suspensions. The Citizen’s Operating Budget Committee should be reinstated to provide transparent access to community members. Information on programming and staffing for students receiving special education services should be accessible to parents. Community members should be updated on progress being made to reduce the disproportional suspensions of minority students. Concerns about communication also extend to our local and state officials as shown by the fact that both the County Council and the Maryland General Assembly have enacted legislation impacting the actions of the HCPSS. These are areas I would like to address as a new member of the Board of Education in December.
1. I am the only candidate who worked in our school system; during my 34 years in HCPSS I taught at elementary, middle, and high school levels, having retired in 2015. My experiences as a teacher gave me first-hand knowledge of challenges faced by our school system’s educators and students, and the consequences that board decisions have on our educators and students. I believe it is important to have this perspective represented on our board. I also have a daughter and son who attended HCPSS schools from K-12. This has prepared me to see issues from the perspective of the family, in addition to the classroom. I hold degrees in music education and psychology from College Park, which gave me a background in education, arts, and sciences. I directed the Columbia Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble in the ‘90’s and presently direct the Columbia Big Band, which afforded me to opportunity to work with a board and lead groups of adults. I have taught private percussion students for over 40 years, which gave me an appreciation of the importance of individualization when considering learning processes and student characteristics. These experiences should enhance my effectiveness on the board.
2. 1) Restore trust by prioritizing honesty, transparency, and responsiveness in communication and action. Cultivate a partner-like culture of “working with” instead of “doing to” stakeholders, including inviting input from all.
2) Focus school system efforts on students and teachers by producing a climate where administrative/central office personnel serve educators, students, and parents, and not vice versa. Implementation would include reducing unnecessary paperwork and reducing instructional and preparation time lost to excessive standardized testing and a poorly-conceived teacher evaluation procedure; “healthy” buildings and provision of appropriate materials would also be priorities.
3) Prioritize hierarchical and organizational skills by facilitating individualized student assistance.
4) Cultivate an appreciation of diversity by developing courses, curriculum, training, hiring practices, and relationships.
5) Address equity issues by consideration during redistricting, compensational staffing, scholarships for special programs for financially-challenged highly able students, etc.
6) Improve special education by increasing customization to meet student needs, and improving partnering with parents.
7) Improve financial efficiencies, enabling more funds to be used for educational purposes, by restoring the budget oversight committee, changing “use it or lose it” procedures, enhancing inter-school communication to reduce waste, avoiding unproven fads, and developing coherent instructional and operational technology plans.
3. Yes, changes are necessary in order to increase community trust and maximize progress. The school system and board should communicate with integrity and welcome input from parents, educators, students, and other community members, including the elected officials who determine funding. When decisions are made, input should be considered and reasons should be provided regarding the outcome. Questions and concerns should be responded to promptly and communication should be maintained until closure is reached. A budget oversight committee should be reinstated. Public information requests should be honored efficiently. Access to requested documents should be in requested formats. Propaganda-style communications should be eliminated. Inviting input from educators while eliminating fear of retribution should enable more informed decision-making and educationally-related improvements. Communication between educators and parents should be prioritized, accompanied by reductions of other educator time demands. To further enhance communication, monthly evening meetings could be held involving board members and the public with a hybrid format involving “town hall” presentations and small group / individual discussions where concerns could be considered informally and in person. A culture of working together with the community to provide the best education for our students should prevail over the antagonism that presently exists.
1. Having lived in Howard County for over 30 years, I have seen the changes our county has gone through. I am currently serving the citizens of Howard County on the Board of Education, twice as Chairman of the Board, which has given me a good understanding of educational issues at the local, state and federal level. Being a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins for 22 years, I understand the “whole child” as it relates to the cognitive, physical and social/emotional challenges our children face today. I also understand the science of learning and how each child is unique in their own learning styles. My advocacy for eliminating the achievement gap over the years has put us in the positive direction. I have also worked hard towards a world-class wellness policy and a world-class curriculum. All of this is coupled with our teachers and staff has propelled us towards becoming one the best school systems in the country. I have worked with our business and community partners to augment the educational experience for our diverse student group. I hope to continue utilizing my experience and background to maintain excellence in Howard County.
2. Howard County is considered one the best places to live based on our outstanding schools which are the economic driver. However, we still have much to do towards eliminating achievement and excellence gaps. Getting people out of poverty is the single best predictor of closing gaps, in addition to a diverse socioeconomic school population. Our curriculum needs to adopt changes that reflects cultural diversity and meet the needs to compete in the global world with respect to STEM, the Arts, and World Languages. Finding equitable ways to address overcrowding of our schools is a priority. Among all these we must make sure that our children develop critical thinking skills, and our assessments should be designed to provide valuable feedback to parents and educators. While we have a world class wellness policy, we should continue to look for ways to improve the physical activity of students, the quality of our food & nutrition services, as well as necessary mental health resources and a strong anti-bullying policy. Engagement of all stakeholders is important, to include parents and community groups to assure our students are Career and College ready and that they have the skills they need to become productive citizens.
3. During the last decade we have gone through a drastic change in ways we communicate; it has gone from only a few ways to communicate to several ways to communicate through technological advancements in smart phones, internet, and social media. I am very open to continuous improvement and looking for ways to connect with the community, and the board should review and update its methods of communication. Currently HCPSS has an informal and formal process for responding to parents concerns or disagreements and this process can be found on the HCPSS website. The Board also has an Ombudsman that can provide for confidential, impartial problem resolution. The Board has cluster school assignments for Board Members and that list is available on the website. Public Information requests should follow the MDIPA laws and regulations. I feel that the current process for parental concerns, which starts at the school and can go through the Board’s Ombudsman’s office, helps to address these concerns in an efficient and effective manner. As a board member, I will continue to be open to assist and help parents through the process so that concerns are properly addressed.
1. I have a 5th grader and 9th grader in HCPSS schools so I bring the perspective of a parent to the BOE. Before starting a family, I worked for the Committee on Resources of the US House of Representatives and investigated waste, fraud and abuse in federal agencies. I also drafted legislation, managed and negotiated with stakeholders to establish common ground and find solutions. I know how to ask the hard questions, listen, get answers, understand problems and work with individuals and organizations with different points of view.
As president of the PTA Council of Howard County for three terms I advocated for students, parents and educators at the local, county and state level. I understand education issues, HCPSS policies, and how the school system operates. I served on the BOE’s Operating Budget Review Committee (OBRC) for three years (two as co-chair) and when the BOE disbanded the committee, I formed the Citizens’ OBRC with the teacher’s union because I believed it was important for the community to continue to have formal input into the operating budget process. I have an understanding of the budget and what’s needed to bring transparency to how we allocate and spend education dollars.
2. The BOE has to establish oversight over their employee, the superintendent. The BOE must provide the superintendent with metrics on how the success of her leadership and programs/initiatives will be determined. A fair and accurate evaluation based on metrics will enable the BOE to hold school system leadership accountable.
The lack of a checks and balances has led to the inability of the BOE and the community to determine how much it truly costs to run the school system. Budgets must be assessed so we can determine if we are efficiently allocating education dollars and delivering to each student the education they need. Complete and accurate budget data must be made available to not only the members of the BOE, but also the public, in a format that allows for analysis of budgeting and spending decisions.
The lack of transparency with budgetary and programmatic decisions has created a distrust of the school system and BOE. HCPSS used to be known for including the community and the BOE must work to reestablish the trust with the community, truly listen to and collaborate with, parents, students, teachers, staff and community, and involve them in education decisions.
3. An important responsibility of the BOE/HCPSS is to be accessible and responsive to all stakeholders in the school system. Healthy organizations must evaluate their performance in all areas. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for organizations to evaluate and improve how they operate if they are unable (or unwilling) to admit to, and address, issues of concern.
A way to catalogue and track issues should be established, so the extent of an issue can be determined and an approach to address it developed. This includes issues brought to the attention of individual BOE members, the BOE as a whole, and the HCPSS. If issues are not fully understood, they can’t be effectively resolved, and can become worse.
The BOE/HCPSS should also have a process for responding to public questions in a timely manner. The questions, and answers provided by the BOE/HCPSS could be of interest to not only the individual who initially asked the question, but the public as well. This information should be available on their website. This will also allow the BOE/HCPSS to judge the effectiveness of their communication efforts and make necessary adjustments.
These changes will enable the public to hold the BOE/HCPSS accountable.
Anne Arundel County Judge of the Circuit Court
1. How does your experience prepare you for this office?
2. What are your priority issues for this office? Are there any changes you would like to make?
1. My greatest strengths are being fair minded and deciphering the truth. I am the only judge on the general election ballot with ten years of solid judicial experience. The other four have one year or less. My ten years of judicial experience as a DC administrative law judge prepared me for this position as Circuit Court Judge in Anne Arundel County. Our role as judges is to hear the facts, weigh evidence, admit relevant evidence, and write decisions that provide the reader detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law.
I received diversity training as an administrative law judge from the National Judicial College. This training focused on understanding implicit biases in the judiciary. Everyone has biases. As a jurist, we must be careful to be fair minded in all decision making, and not allow real or perceived biases to enter into our decision making.
2. Changes in the judiciary would not be in my purview as an associate judge. I would not have supervisory judicial authority, but certainly would weigh in as an associate judge on any problems in case assignment or getting time sensitive cases involving violation of due process matters immediately before the court to be heard.
There is also concern about the impact of the Justice Reinvestment Act recently passed in the legislature during this last legislative session. I’d be willing to take on any extra backlog of cases involving those incarcerated who are entitled to reconsideration of their sentences or seek expungement of their records.
If there is any problem with due process or other constitutional violations, I would want to make sure the system is working effectively to bring that person immediately to the courts for a hearing.
Glenn Klavans (Incumbent): Did not respond.
Stacy McCormack: (Incumbent): Did not respond.
Donna Schaeffer (Incumbent): Did not respond.
Cathy Vitale (Incumbent):
1. I have been an attorney for the last 27 years licensed to practice in both Maryland and the District of Columbia. Additionally, I am licensed to practice before many federal courts including the United States Supreme Court. My practice has included both civil and criminal matters, jury and non-jury trials. I had an active mediation practice in addition to my non-trial and trial work. From 2000 until being appointed to the bench I was honored with the opportunity to represent my County and district on the Anne Arundel County Council (11 years) and in the Maryland General Assembly. I served in quasi-judicial roles as a hearing officer for the AA County Public Schools and the Fire Discipline Board. As a judge, I utilize the experiences and skills learned in my prior roles – in particular, the ability to listen with a critical ear to evidence and testimony, weigh credibility, research effectively and interpret the laws of the County and the State, many of which I had a role in creating. As a result of my experiences, litigants and attorneys know they will get a fair trial from a judge who is versed on the law, will listen and properly evaluate the evidence and make decisions without prejudice to gender, race, religion or political views.
2. The role of a judge is of a public servant. My priorities include ensuring that those who appear in my courtroom are given fair hearings and just results. I have made it a priority to ensure that self-represented individuals are given the same deference as lawyers. I make sure all are treated with respect not only by me, but others in the courtroom. I explain the process in detail before we begin the docket. Everyone knows what to expect from me and what is expected of them as they present their case.
As for changes that I would make, that is more difficult as Judges are not in a position to make changes to the judicial system. I believe that our system of justice, is a good system. As a Judge, I hope to change the perception of some that the Courts are not open to all or that they operate to the exclusion of some. I have conducted hearings and trials open to the public, and encourage the public to view our proceedings to better understand the process. I speak to organizations regarding the Courts and encourage my colleagues to participate. An educated public results in confidence in the judicial system.
Howard County Judge of the Circuit Court
1. How does your experience prepare you for this office?
2. What are your priority issues for this office? Are there any changes you would like to make?
Mary Kramer (Incumbent): Did not respond.