As I knock on residents’ doors, the primary response is that no one is listening to their concerns. No one is advocating on their behalf. They worry about overcrowding in their neighborhood. They worry about the upkeep of their neighborhood. They worry about safety in their neighborhood. But the chief concern is that no one is looking out for them. They feel forgotten and have in many cases lost hope. Central to my desire to serve in the State Senate is to turn that around. These are hardworking people who want a higher quality of life. Almost everyone either came to Prince George’s County, or came with their family, from somewhere else to pursue a better life for themselves and their children. It’s not that they haven’t heard promises before. They have. They just don’t believe them anymore. The trust is broken and I work hard every day to build trust between me and my neighbors. When I approach a resident or attend a meeting, my process is to listen to their concerns, give them my cell phone, act on the issue, and finally follow up for good or for bad. I repeat this process over and over to build trust between me and my neighbors to better understand how I might best serve them. Some of the issues that can be addressed at the state include:
Economic Development, Aging In Place and Jobs
On the doorstep to the nation’s capital that is rapidly completing its gentrification. Quality of life improvements are significant in the region but District 47 lags behind. We have 5 public transportation Metro stops! Over 50% of new economic development in Metro DC is occurring within ¼ of Metro stops but ours have lagged behind. As a member of WMATA Board of Directors, we have started to change that with ground breaking on new development coming to New Carrollton this year after a 40 year wait. We need to have strong leadership that is pushing for this at the State. Leadership that pushes for the relocation of State offices to these Metro stops to help spur development. Transit Oriented Development is the future and we have significant underutilized assets.
With this public investment we need to bring jobs to District 47. We must have directed hiring practices and enforcement. These jobs will address a central concern of mine, instilling hope and belief within our neighbors. As we bring this development, we must protect and provide benefits to the residents who have worked so hard without displacing them with new more affluent residents. In addition to existing Property Tax increase protections, we must investigate protections based on longevity and service that make it easier for resident to age in place.
It is imperative that we fully fund, today, the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act and carefully monitor and be prepared to support full funding for public education through the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education.
Additional revenue is required to meet the unmet public education funding needs today and into the future. While careful consideration to current and projected economic impact and conditions should be considered, I believe that additional revenue should be pursued in areas like an increase of Maryland State Income Tax particularly for those with high income, extension to additional lines of sale for online sales tax collection and corporate tax reform to close loopholes that prevent companies from paying their fair share.
Many of our children, some of the youngest, attend school in trailers because our schools are overcrowded and outdated. It is important that facility planning programs from the School system and local planning agency, Maryland National Park and Planning, with regard to school construction need and execution are unified by state law. Development without adequate public facilities is unacceptable and needs to be rectified. It is unacceptable that our children are attending dilapidated schools and even when we have new schools that students are soon in trailers because the needs far outstrip the facilities. We need a complete plan and execution to deliver adequate public facilities.
Public Infrastructure Investment and Accountability
Many of the roads in Maryland are maintained by the State and the neglect of regular maintenance has rippling impact on the quality of life for District 47. Unlike many other parts of Maryland, District 47 has a population density that requires additional resources to maintain good repair. As the home of 9 municipalities, it is important that the state provide formula driven funding to the municipalities so that they can complete the infrastructure improvements that they need. We also require and must invest in Public Transportation, especially Metro. Traffic hampers our growth and reduces our quality of life. We must invest in public transportation to address this concern.
Healthcare Mental Health
Healthcare access and cost is a central concern for all. We must provide adequate funding that supports quality healthcare for all. Within healthcare, mental health disorders impact our community beyond the individual. These disorders contribute to domestic violence, crime, and poor employment practices. Mental health disorders are stigmatized among people of color and we must fund education to change this and provide more money for access and quality mental health services to our community. Studies have shown that 2/3 of incarcerated individuals have a mental health disorder. Addressing this issue will impact crime, employment and improve the quality of life for all.
We cannot be sure today what the significant concerns of 2019 will be. Leaders must make decisions on matters that are unforeseen making character important. I believe that it is important to seek guidance from those who possess expertise on a particular matter, the input of all stakeholders, and most importantly our neighbors. Equipped with this information, my keys are to be; ethical, competent, accessible, and consistent. These are qualities I live and have demonstrated to my neighbors over the last 15 years and will guide my leadership of District 47.