Real Talk Tho Questionnaire: 7th Congressional District candidates respond

Real Talk Tho: Special Election for 7th Congressional District

A field of 32 candidates — 24 Democrats and 8 Republicans — are looking to fill the congressional seat left vacant by the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings last October. Cummings died Oct. 17 at the age of 68. He had a rare form of cancer called thymic carcinoma.Maryland voters will have an important decision to make next year when they must pick who can best represent the 7th congressional district, which includes parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Howard County.At our Dec. 3 Real Talk Tho, The Real News Network will talk about issues that show why this election is so important, including the candidates’ positions on how to best represent Baltimore, the investigation into President Donald Trump, and the Green New Deal.

Posted by The Real Baltimore on Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Maryland voters will have an important decision to make on February 4 when they pick who can best represent the 7th Congressional District—the congressional seat left vacant by the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings and includes parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Howard County. A field of 32 candidates—24 Democrats and 8 Republicans —are running. In preparation for last week’s “Real Talk Tho: Special Election for 7th Congressional District,” the Real News Network and the Beat sent out a questionnaire to all the candidates running.

The answers of those candidates who did answer are below. While we do not want to prioritize candidates over others, we’ve decided to begin with the answers from two of the frontrunners for reasons explained later on.

Jill Carter (D)

Please write a few words about who you are and your background.What makes you the best candidate? Civil rights is a family tradition for the Carters. My father, Walter P. Carter, was the leader of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and led sit-ins, boycotts, and other protests in Baltimore during the 1960s. He died when I was young, but not before we both helped Parren Mitchell’s successful campaign to become the first Black Congressman from Maryland. I went to Western High School and graduated from Loyola College with a Bachelor’s in English. After graduating, I was a journalist with the AFRO and later received a law degree from the UB School of Law, beginning my legal career which continues to this day. I began serving in the House of Delegates in 2003 and I was elected to the State Senate in District 41 in 2018, with a post on the Judicial Proceedings Committee and advocating every legislative session for the people, without pause. 

I believe I am the best candidate for the position because of my record and my background. I first began serving in the House of Delegates in 2003 and have introduced or co-sponsored bills on a whole host of issues that are just beginning to get traction: Ending the lead crisis. Addressing mass incarceration. Adding accountability to government agencies and the police. Universal healthcare. Our district deserves a Congresswoman who has the policy knowledge and the moral compass to get funding for our local needs, advocate for national priorities, and hold government accountable to the people. Maryand is also lacking in women’s representation in Washington, and I am a woman up to the task of representing our proud district.

What is your fundraising goal, and who will you be targeting for fundraising? Our fundraising goal is $750,000 and we are targeting small-dollar, grassroots supporters around the country who want to promote a progressive and independent voice in Congress. We welcome donations to our PO Box and an ActBlue is forthcoming. Unions such as SEIU1199, SEIU500, IBEW, BTU, and NNU are organizations who we seek as donors of both campaign dollars and GOTV capacity. Justice Democrats, Brand New Congress, and the Sunrise Movement, among other progressive issue campaigns, would be welcomed as donors or supporters in this race.

Our campaign will not be accepting donations from corporations or corporate PACs. We will accept the support of union and issue-based PACs and independent expenditures, if they choose to support our campaign in this race and they understand that I won’t change my stances based on my donors. I’ve been a longtime supporter of campaign finance reform and will introduce or co-sponsor legislation to support publicly financed elections nationally.

Rep. Cummings was regarded by some as a lifelong civil rights champion, especially concerning voting rights for all. What makes you the best candidate to continue this work? Like Congressman Cummings, I am a practicing attorney and have the legal acumen to expand human rights legislation in Congress. My record on civil rights, criminal justice, and voting rights is extensive and the Congressman was an inspiration and guide to me in this work. Many of the issues of police accountability and government accountability were issues that I was championing over a decade before the murder of Freddie Gray or the cruelty and lawlessness of the Gun Trace Task Force were unmasked. I served as the Director of the Baltimore Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement prior to my ascension to the State Senate. I have immense pride that Congressman Cummings called me “The People’s Champion”. Not only do I have a history of civil rights advocacy, I also have serious plans on how to take the freedom struggle to Congress. 

I want to author legislation that will work to end the War on Drugs, mass incarceration, homelessness, and the criminalization of poverty. I will fight to make the right to vote, the most sacred right in any democracy, inalienable to the incarcerated and expand the Voting Rights Act. I will fight to end poverty and support a public health approach to addressing the systemic issues that create crime. I will push for a special prosecutor who can investigate police departments and police brutality cases around the country, which would assist the enforcement of the consent decree.

Do you think it’s important to continue investigating the president? If so, why are you the best candidate to continue to hold the powerful accountable? It is very important to continue the investigation of this criminal, cruel so-called president. Like the late Congressman Cummings, I am an attorney and could use my legal skills on the House Oversight Committee, particularly the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties subcommittee, to investigate the corrupt President’s violations of the law and the public trust. However, I want to make it clear that investigating and uprooting government corruption must be complemented by public policy that works on behalf of the people and serves their needs.

How familiar with you with the demographics of the people who live in Congressional District 7 and the challenges they face? How will you meet the needs of the people who live in this district? I am quite familiar with the District, as I have lived here my entire life. I can recall campaigning as a child for Parren Mitchell, our first Black Congressman. In my service as a Delegate and Senator representing West Baltimore, I have advocated for their issues, particularly ending the lead crisis, increasing school funding, and raising wages, throughout my career without ever turning my back or wavering in my solidarity. 

I will serve the whole district by fighting for federal funding for public transportation, education, and infrastructure upgrades for the roads and water systems that we all share. I will support legislation to abolish student loan debt, convert to tuition-free higher education, conserve our forests and parks, and guarantee world-class education, daycare, housing, healthcare, and high-speed Internet for all our neighbors.

Many in Baltimore regarded Cummings as a great supporter of and advocate for the city. Do you agree? What will you do for Baltimore City? Congressman Cummings was a great supporter of the City and stood tall to defend postal workers and working families through his career. Most importantly, Congressman Cummings represented Baltimore well in the halls of Congress. He lived a life as a dedicated public servant and he will never be replaced. I seek to succeed him and honor his legacy by continuing his fight to the very end. And I will continue his work by advocating for public policy that heals Baltimore and addresses the underlying problems in our beautiful City.

For Baltimore City, I will fight for increased funding that can go directly to the City budget earmarked for education, recreation, infrastructure, and public housing. I will also serve as an independent voice that can call out wrongdoing in City Hall and Annapolis. I will also support Medicare For All, which will grant comprehensive healthcare without co-pays or deductibles and save working families hundreds/thousands of dollars a year and end medical debt. I will fight for federal funding to build public housing and end homelessness in Baltimore City and the United States at large. I will bring federal funding to create a community court for our City, based on community courts in Philadelphia. I will fight for a lead-free future so our children won’t be poisoned in their homes and in their schools.

What is your position on environmental protections here in Maryland and across the country? I strongly support environmental protections and seek to expand them. We need more national parks and conservation areas. We must improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and our tributary systems. We must the air quality of Baltimore City, especially South Baltimore, where the lower air quality leads young Black children to have higher rates of asthma and allergies. Environmental protections should also include converting to 100% renewable energy, more sustainable farming practices, and ending wars abroad that contribute so greatly to climate change.

Are you in support of the Green New Deal? I will be a co-sponsor on the Green New Deal and I will advocate locally and nationally to help pass this bill. For the 7th District, the Green New Deal, will provide federal funding which we could use to build the Red Line, or future transit projects that connect Columbia to Baltimore to Randallstown. This legislation will also convert all public housing to 100% renewable energy and create union jobs that will finally grant economic opportunity to many residents of the district. The Green New Deal is good for the 7th and I will cosponsor this legislation and hold rallies in our district. 

Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings (D)

Please write a few words about who you are and your background. hat makes you the best candidate? I am a change agent, social justice advocate, policy wonk, small business owner, author, and consultant. Only the fourth generation from slavery, I grew up in an Air Force family living in places across the country and abroad. My parents, who were staunch Democrats and civil rights activists, often shared stories of what it was like to live in and survive the segregated Jim Crow South. They instilled in my siblings and I the importance of community service and encouraged us become defenders of human rights and to work toward a more just, inclusive society. This passion led me to earn a Ph.D. in political  science and served as the basis of a twenty year career working as a staffer on Capitol Hill, as the Senior Resident Scholar for Health and Income Security at the National Urban League, as Vice President for Research and Programs at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and as Founder, President and CEO of my own consulting firm Global Policy Solutions. To help advance the cause, I have also served on numerous boards that include the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, National Council on Aging, TransAfrica Forum, National Association of Counties Financial Services Corporation, Baltimore Museum of Art, and Year Up Baltimore among others. It has also been my honor to be elected and to serve as the Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, a volunteer position, for nearly a year. 

I’m the best candidate because I am a problem solver who has worked  on issues relevant to the Baltimore region for more than twenty years. For more than 11 of those years, I fought alongside Elijah Cummings, the man who represented this district since 1996, and understood and shared his hopes and dreams for the 7th Congressional District. As a former Capitol Hill staffer, I am deeply familiar with its processes, and am willing to roll up my sleeves and work hard and collaboratively to address challenges and maximize opportunities for people and their environment while building on Elijah’s legacy.

What is your fundraising goal, and who will you be targeting for fundraising? My campaign is building a strong coalition of support with deep roots in the 7th Congressional District. In order to fund this campaign in the way it should be resourced, we will be relying on support from an expansive network of neighbors, family, friends, and colleagues who are willing to contribute to my campaign. While I will be accepting contributions from sources that align with my values, I also built a statewide small dollar donor program while I was Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party which increased fivefold during my tenure. I hope to replicate that grassroots energy in my own campaign. 

Rep. Cummings was regarded by some as a lifelong civil rights champion, especially concerning voting rights for all. What makes you the best candidate to continue this work? Elijah stood for civil rights because he was acutely aware that African Americans have been denied the full rights of U.S. citizenship throughout history and within his lifetime. One of his earliest civil rights victories was marching alongside Ms. Juanita Jackson Mitchell to integrate the Riverside pool when he was just a kid living in South Baltimore. We shared a passion for civil rights advocacy because of my own family’s experience with racial discrimination. As the fourth generation from slavery, I am the granddaughter of people who were refused the right to vote and treated inhumanely. My father, a former chair of an NAACP chapter and my mother, a faithful soldier in the struggle, taught us the importance of continuing the battle for equality, equity and justice. Like Elijah, I too have experienced the challenge of racism first hand. I am a graduate of Prairie View A&M University, an HBCU in Texas. While there, I served as the social action chair of the campus chapter of Delta Sigma Theta and as president of the political science club. In 1992, I was leading an effort to register student voters so that their voices would be heard in a local campaign. Student turnout was high in that election but after the votes were tallied the Waller County Police arrested 13 students; claiming that they voted illegally. We then organized a student march to the Waller County Courthouse to demand the expungement of the students record and to fight for our right to vote. In 2004, when Congressman Cummings was Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus I asked him to intercede in yet another voting rights violation at Prairie View. I was grateful that he agreed and, as a result, the George W. Bush Justice Department stepped in to assure PVAMU students their rights. The battle for voting rights at Prairie View and around the country continues. It is something that I am passionate about and will continue to fight for as a fundamental aspect of protecting and preserving our democracy. Another prominent example occurred in August of 2014 when Mike Brown was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Mo. Images of the unrest filled our TV and I was greatly disturbed, could not rest, and was keenly focused on what could be done to address the issue of extrajudicial killings of people of color. So I came up with an initiative called Beyond Ferguson and partnered with Angela Glover Blackwell of PolicyLink to take out ads in the WashingtonPost.com. We developed a sign on letter that included Elijah and more than 100 prominent people of all backgrounds from across the country and sent it to the Obama White House where it was distributed across departments. Our efforts helped spur the Obama Administration to create the Task Force on 21st Century Policing and it, along with the unrest following the death of Freddie Gray, helped to set the stage for police reform in Baltimore and in places around the country.

Do you think it’s important to continue investigating the president? If so, why are you the best candidate to continue to hold the powerful accountable? Donald Trump wants to turn our democracy into a dictatorship of tyranny and we cannot let that happen. So yes, it’s incredibly important to fight against fascism and to protect our democracy. I’m the best candidate to hold the powerful accountable because I’ve done it before. For example, when Wall Street and George W. Bush tried to privatize Social Security in 2005, I was on the front lines fighting against their efforts to steal the hard earned benefits of America’s workers. I’m proud that we were able to stop the Wall Street titans and Bush in their tracks, preserving the program so that seniors, the disabled, and surviving dependents can continue to count on the economic security provided by Social Security for years to come. The Republican agenda to privatize Social Security will continue and I will continue to speak truth to power and fight their efforts to undermine working families. 

How familiar with you with the demographics of the people who live in Congressional District 7 and the challenges they face? How will you meet the needs of the people who live in this district? Very familiar. Maryland’s 7th Congressional District is incredibly diverse. This district ranges from some of the most poverty-stricken to most affluent zip codes in the nation and it includes people from all backgrounds. Heartbreakingly, we also have structural discrimination in Baltimore that manifests in major health and wealth disparities such as a twenty year difference in life expectancies between zip codes that are only five miles apart. I have spent a career 

focused on studying and identifying solutions to these disparities across the areas of health, education, and economic security. I have also walked the streets of Baltimore for twenty years and lived here with Elijah Cummings for twelve. As a result, I am very familiar with the deep challenges and needs of Baltimoreans as well as the diverse concerns facing people in Howard County and Baltimore County. I will focus on leveraging the knowledge and skills I have developed in the areas of critical concern to fight for the needs and aspirations of the people of the 7th Congressional District. My vision includes continuing the fight that Elijah led but also building on his legacy in a way that can bring transformation, healing, and prosperity to the city and region. 

Many in Baltimore regarded Cummings as a great supporter of and advocate for the city. Do you agree? What will you do for Baltimore City? Yes, of course. My husband was Baltimore’s biggest booster. He loved Baltimore, its people, and was one of the greatest leaders in the history of this region and this country. As a City resident, I too love this City and I will fight everyday for our town. That means addressing structural discrimination, supporting ongoing efforts to improve police and community relations, implementing truly universal health care, protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, ensuring every child has access to world-class education and training whether they’re in Columbia or Sandtown, and bringing more good jobs back home. 

What is your position on environmental protections here in Maryland and across the country? We only have one planet, and we need to take care of it. Climate change is an existential threat and a global issue. I appreciate many of the environmental protections passed by the Maryland General Assembly and other states, but I think we should go further to ensure sustainable development and responsible growth. 

Are you in support of the Green New Deal?  Yes, absolutely.   

Below are the responses from a few of the other 7th Congressional District candidates. We’d like to add that these answers are printed pretty much as is (save for occasional adjustments for clarity) and that includes some claims that may be controversial or even unsubstantiated.

Christopher M. Anderson (R)

Please write a few words about who you are and your background. What makes you the best candidate? I live in the district, I see the problems we face every day. I helped clean up the district with Scott Presler and others. I also helped Delegate Don Dwyer and Senator Robert Hooper on H.R. 3313 in the Maryland General Assembly. I’ve been a community activist working for change since the Baltimore Uprising. My grandfather, Christopher Bland, owned Bland’s carryout in the district on Riggs Avenue in Baltimore. I know the problems the district faces and I have the passion to solve the district’s issues.

What is your fundraising goal, and who will you be targeting for fundraising? Most of my fundraising goals will be targeted to Baltimore County, Howard County, and conservatives in the nation. I will accept donations from corporations and PACs, I see no reason not to.  

Rep. Cummings was regarded by some as a lifelong civil rights champion, especially concerning voting rights for all. What makes you the best candidate to continue this work? Like Rep. Cummings, I’ve been a community and political activist in Baltimore. I’ve served in the USCG reserves. I helped with the Maryland Committee against the Gun Ban in 1994; I mentored the youth through a nonprofit organization called Project Raise; I was the boy’s youth leader in the Baltimore Christian Warriors; I wrote the first petition in Baltimore for Police body cameras; I marched with the 300 Men, People’s Powers Assembly and the Clergy March during the Baltimore Uprising.

Do you think it’s important to continue investigating the president? If so, why are you the best candidate to continue to hold the powerful accountable? No I don’t think it’s important to continue to investigate the President. I heard Rep. Ilhan Omar say President Trump has over 100 illegal impeachment offense but we are going with the Ukraine phone call because we can not prove anything else. That’s the very definition of a witch hunt and a waste of taxpayers money and time.

How familiar with you with the demographics of the people who live in Congressional District 7 and the challenges they face? How will you meet the needs of the people who live in this district? I’m very familiar with the demographic of the 7th district. I see the issues every day it faces. The increase in crime in Baltimore county will only increase without congressional intervention which no Democrat can solve. Howard county will have that to look forward to as well unless we change course in this District. I will meet all the needs of the people in my District by not voting on party interest over the people of the district. I will make sure the enterprise zones are empowered and the opioid crisis solved for good. 

Many in Baltimore regarded Cummings as a great supporter of and advocate for the city. Do you agree? What will you do for Baltimore City? Rep. Cummings was a great supporter of Baltimore, unfortunately he was not a great advocate for Baltimore. He was a great advocate for Democratic party interest which created most of the problems in Baltimore to begin with. With a high opioid death rate and an out of control murder rate, it’s no reason the $1.8 billion dollars this administration sent to the district hasn’t made a difference & that’s partly the responsibility of the congressional seat. I will vote with the best interest of Baltimore & not vote party interest over the district. 

What is your position on environmental protections here in Maryland and across the country? This is such a tough issue today, there’s not enough being done bipartisan to protect our environment nationwide. Both parties can not agree on the science of climate change and this is hurting the world. 

Are you in support of the Green New Deal? The Green New Deal is a start to making us aware of the issues of climate change but unless Rep. Alexander Cortez gets the help of both parties I can’t support this deal. Most of her own party didn’t support it, it’s time both parties sat down together and work on a deal we all can be happy with.

T. Daniel Baker (D)

Please write a few words about who you are and your background. What makes you the best candidate? I am TDan Baker. I am a very, very concerned District 7 citizen regarding race relations, corporate influence in government, US foreign policy, and especially climate change. Son of a Baptist Minister and high school Math teacher. One of the first graduates of the Virginia Military Institute to join the Peace Corps. Huge fan of JFK’s ‘can do’ vision supporting the ‘moonshot’ and ‘civil rights’. A civilian veteran (US Foreign Service) of Afghanistan (2 tours), International Public Health professional, and recently returned Country Director of an infectious disease prevention and treatment program covering southern Turkey and northern Syria.  

I believe in Telling the Truth, Rule of Law, and The Constitution. I believe that America’s diversity is her greatest strength. I believe that there is serious denial in government – that needs to be called out and addressed at the federal level – regarding the realities of race relations and climate change. I believe that there is serious corruption in government – that also needs to be called out, investigated, and addressed – regarding corporate influence in government and foreign policy.

I believe that most folks in District 7 want: to have the financial boot off their throats – even if a little bit – so that the income they are making today stretches a little bit further each month (perhaps by reducing the work week to 4 days); to feel safe and secure from violence – both domestically and internationally; to have access to decent health care, food, and education for their kids.

And I believe that the following policies can help achieve these wants! Equal Pay:  Same salary for same job; Minimum Wage: = A living wage!;Drug Use Decriminalization: For non-violent offenders; Education: Pay teachers their real worth! Ensure curriculum is preparing our children for their future; Female Reproductive Rights: It is a woman’s right to choose and have access to health care services!; Universal Health Care (Plus Public Opt) : It is a Human Right! People should have the right to choose the kind of care they want; Gun Control:  License and registration to own; Immigration: Far enough back, aren’t we all immigrants?;  Legalization of marijuana: And new research into medical use; Gay marriage & adoption:  We all need love & loving parents!; Improving Transportation and Infrastructure. 

I’ve been fortunate over my career as an international health & development professional to have visited many countries of the world, and I have seen with my own eyes the changes which have befallen other countries suffering from poor governance, corruption, and lack of leadership to address climate change.  We must fight to prevent this from happening to the United States!

Given all the changes that are coming our way–as a country and as a species–I am the best candidate for the position because I’ve seen just how ‘bad’ things can get in such countries and have spent 20 plus years working from the national down to the local country level attempting to prevent and then provide treatment when such things occur. 

Finally, the US Congress is in need of leaders who not only directly represent the will of their constituents but who also understand the global realities of what we ALL will be facing in the coming decades … leaders who can make balanced, informed, and measured decisions for how best to respond to the Global Climate Crisis working on behalf of our Districts, our States, and our Country…I am one such leader.  

What is your fundraising goal, and who will you be targeting for fundraising? Given the short timeframe of this special election primary, my fundraising goal will be a modest $250,000 which I hope to raise through crowdfunding and individual donations. As one of my key platform issues is to repeal Citizens United thus removing the influence of corporations in government, I will not be seeking nor accepting donations from corporations nor PACs. 

Rep. Cummings was regarded by some as a lifelong civil rights champion, especially concerning voting rights for all. What makes you the best candidate to continue this work? Who can replace Congressman Elijah Cummings?  The short answer is no one.  Congressman Cummings will be remembered as champion and true believer in the ‘idea of America’ and American Democracy.  Any American seeking to succeed this “mentor, civil rights activist and stalwart advocate for Baltimore” (Baltimore Sun) and District 7 will be required to not only bring an ‘A Game’ but heart, passion, smarts, tenacity, creative thought, patriotism, and belief in a better tomorrow worthy of Rep. Cummings’ and District 7’s endorsement and respect.

No easy task, but to climb a mountain, one must take the first step.  Herein—with the utmost respect and appreciation for the work and legacy of Congressman Cummings—I humbly present myself as one citizen who will work to give it his all to rise to the challenge of following ‘a great’ as Maryland’s next Representative to District 7 championing those policies and positions that District 7 wants.  

Do you think it’s important to continue investigating the president? If so, why are you the best candidate to continue to hold the powerful accountable? I fully support The Constitution and thus the impeachment process continuing on its due course.  This said, I despise bigotry and I despise any hint of white supremacy.  Though I respect the office of the President, I am deeply disturbed by the hubris and arrogance of this single individual who thinks that he alone knows better than the 243 years of experience encapsulated in the 44 Presidents who preceded him.  

How familiar with you with the demographics of the people who live in Congressional District 7 and the challenges they face? How will you meet the needs of the people who live in this district? Many politicians will tell you that they already know all District 7’s concerns and thus what the district needs. I have lived in District 7 for 15 years, and while ‘I think’ most people of the district want: their income to stretch a little further; to feel safe and secure from violence; and to have equal access to health care, good education, and adequate food, ‘I also think’ that the approach, championed by many of my opponents, lacks flexibility, open mindedness, team work approach, and a level of humility that most voters of District 7 – and throughout the United States – would prefer in their representative.

What I present in my campaign website (VoteTDanBaker.com) is ‘Who I am’ and then ‘What I believe’ in order to give District 7 voters a quick glance opportunity to know me and my thoughts. However, when it comes to ‘District 7’s Concerns?’, I’m asking that all perspective voters visiting the site take 2 minutes to complete a brief poll to identify those issues, which are of greatest importance to them.

In the days prior to computers, high speed internet and smart phones, a district voted for a ‘representative’ who alone went away to Washington, D.C. to speak ‘for’ their district.  The present day approach I will take is to go a step further and to work directly ‘with’ District 7 voters to identify the majority (or at least plurality) position for how constituents want me to vote on any and all major legislation.  My hope (and pledge) then is to vote ‘with’ – not just ‘for’ – District 7 100% of the time!

What is your position on environmental protections here in Maryland and across the country? As a trained member of Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps, I’ve believed in the need for US leadership and an aggressive response to the Global Climate Crisis for many years now.  The UNEP report that came out this week provided evidence and stated emphatically that the global community of countries is not effectively reducing its Green House Gas emissions to meet the pledges of the Paris Climate Agreement signed in 2015 to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 C.  Though several states and cities across the US are working diligently to meet the Paris Agreement, including Maryland, clearly much more needs to be done.  To this end in my website platform I propose a “stretch goal” to begin Reversing Climate Change – while establishing new jobs – starting right here in District 7 by: Establishing the first all renewable energy municipality (including all residences and businesses) in the United States and by training District 7’s unemployed and underemployed in solar and wind turbine manufacturing, grid conversion, and systems installation.

In establishing the first all renewable energy municipality in District 7, what is required first and foremost is citizen and distributor incentives to convert from fossil fuel based electric supply to renewables only supply. To be clear, several outside companies have attempted this in District 7 in the past, but households remain hesitant to switch their electricity supply for fear of a mishap in billing or getting stuck with an incorrect increase in cost. *As a point of fact, renewable energy costs per kilowatt hour are typically 3 to 5 cents less than that of fossil fuel-based supply.

As Representative for District 7, I would work with local communities and all levels of Maryland state and local government: first, to identify the economic and environmental benefits of conversion to ‘renewables only’ for municipal electric supply; second, to move such popular initiatives forward while overcoming key roadblocks to making such a conversion successful; and third, to entreat and lobby the US Congress to provide support for this cutting edge, first of its kind, state and locally run, initiative.

Developing a model for the “GREEN AMERICA” renewable energy employment initiative in District 7 will require integrated investment in both rural (solar array and wind turbine component manufacturing) and urban (grid conversion, electricity storage, and installation) development. To attract such investments will require incentives – for small and large businesses alike – in the form of favorable terms of land use and taxation so that existing and startup green manufacturing companies can in turn offer attractive and favorable terms to their newly recruited and trained District 7 employees.

Are you in support of the Green New Deal? Absolutely!  However, given that the U.S. has been misdirected over the last three years by a climate denialist while shirking decades of successful environmental policies and protections at the now hollowed out EPA, we are now faced with the stark reality of unstoppable climate chaos unless we reduce GHG emissions by 7.6% each year over the next decade. (UNEP)

The cost of such a massive intervention is now estimated to cost @ $2.5 trillion – the same amount expended in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.  So while the effort is absolutely necessary – albeit very late – the question then becomes … Where does the money come from?  If under a Democratic Executive and Congress, the USG could begin to cut back certain redundant or outdated programming at the Department of Defense. *The United States government spends +50% of each year’s budget, some +$600,000,000,000 ($600 Billion), on defense, with one result being that the DOD has itself become the single greatest consumer of fossil fuels in the United States as well as the single largest institutional emitter of Green House Gases in the entire world. (Brown University).

As a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, I fully support maintaining a force more than capable of defending the borders and shores of the United States but otherwise: It’s time to begin eliminating force redundancy while reducing emissions at the DOD and it’s time to retrofit and convert the DOD from the single largest institutional polluter on the planet, to the institution that is leading the charge to reverse climate change.  

Join me in calling for a rationalizing of future DOD spending—presently greater than the defense budgets of the next seven countries combined—to more appropriately align with the greatest national security threat that exists to the United States today, climate change.      

Terri L. Hill (D)

Please write a few words about who you are and your background. What makes you the best candidate? As a physician and an experienced legislator, I bring a perspective that’s unique from anyone else in this race. I’ve treated patients in this community for 30 years, so my insights about healthcare are invaluable to the discussion. I know the barriers to care that they face and I’ve used that experience to craft successful legislation to remove some of those barriers. But there is more to be accomplished and Congress needs my kind of experience to pass good laws that ensure every person has access to quality healthcare. 

I’ve been a resident of this community for 50 years. I am a graduate of the public schools and I earned my undergraduate degree in bioelectric engineering from Harvard University and my medical degree from the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. I returned home to set up my small business and have practiced in the Baltimore metro area for almost 30 years. I am an experienced legislator, first elected to the House of Delegates in 2014 and reelected in 2018 where I represent Legislative District 12, which includes sections of Baltimore and Howard Counties lying within the 7th Congressional District. Although my focus has been on healthcare, my legislative successes extend to education, the environment and improving the lives of the underserved. In the most recent session, I sponsored successful bills that improved access to prescription drugs for patients with chronic illnesses, created programs and funding mechanisms to assist seniors wishing to age in place, provided access to HIV prevention medication to minors, and ensured better public and jurisdictional notice of contaminated rivers. Ensuring that every child has the opportunity to succeed, that every person has access to good healthcare and that every worker receives a sustainable wage is central to my vision for the people of Maryland 7th Congressional District.

What is your fundraising goal, and who will you be targeting for fundraising? 

Rep. Cummings was regarded by some as a lifelong civil rights champion, especially concerning voting rights for all. What makes you the best candidate to continue this work? Like many of us in the race, I considered the Congressman my mentor. His encouragement nurtured me. 

His vision inspired me. His courage emboldened me to step up and do more. And, like many in this race, my work has been focused on civil rights and social justice. And, l share with some of my fellow competitors, deep roots in this district that bind me to its wellbeing. I am humbled by the opportunity to continue his work, and to build solutions to our problems by focusing on our promise. The issue of voting rights and the national campaign to suppress votes and disenfranchise citizens was THE primary issue which propelled my decision to run for office in 2012. I proposed legislation to address gerrymandering in my first term in General Assembly and the stakes have only gotten higher since that time, particularly on the national level , with the slow assent of propaganda, and the clear commitment of some to usurp the will of the majority in order to obtain and retain power by any means necessary. 

Do you think it’s important to continue investigating the president? If so, why are you the best candidate to continue to hold the powerful accountable? Yes, if the President has not been removed from office, I will continue to hold him accountable. And if he isn’t held accountable through the prescribed process, I will work to ensure that the process is changed so that the imbalance of power between branches of government is corrected. Lastly, I will remind us all that the ultimate power to affect change lies in the ballot box and I will work to restore the rights of disenfranchised voters and rally every citizen to exercise their right to vote, the ultimate tool of accountability. 

How familiar with you with the demographics of the people who live in Congressional District 7 and the challenges they face? How will you meet the needs of the people who live in this district? I’ve lived here for 50 years and practiced medicine in hospitals throughout the Baltimore region for 30 years. My longtime faith-based community lies within Baltimore City and I’ve represented portions of Congressman Cummings’ district in Baltimore County and in Howard County. I am uniquely aware of the diversity of this district and the problems and opportunities it faces. We have problems including the lack of good health care, jobs that pay enough to sustain us, and public transit to get us to those jobs, but we also have the promise of living in a diverse community with world-class hospitals, good employers and successful small businesses. As their state representative for the last five years, I have worked to meet the needs of many of these constituents through direct constituent services, through successful legislation that addressed the needs of seniors and of children, and through established partnerships with public schools, local governments, service organizations and private businesses. I will continue this work at the federal level to ensure funding levels that are commensurate with the needs of District 7. 

Many in Baltimore regarded Cummings as a great supporter of and advocate for the city. Do you agree? What will you do for Baltimore City? Yes, Congressman Cummings’ heart and home was in Baltimore City. Like the Congressman I have a vision for Baltimore City that builds on its promise. I see young people choosing to invest in parts of Baltimore City and companies who wish to expand and employ residents. Citizens are newly engaging in restoring parks, cleaning debris, and ensuring its waterways are clean. New local leaders are emerging with energy and fresh ideas to tackle the problems that have created barriers to success. I know as a state representative that Maryland’s success is tied to the success of Baltimore City. The City does not stand in isolation. I will fight for that success through innovative federal programs to address addiction,  improved services for the homeless, meaningful housing subsidies, and programs to solve intractable unemployment. I am committed to ensuring that federal investments and funding are commensurate with the need, reflect a correction for the disproportionate burden borne by these communities over multiple generations, and are obligated for the many years required to effect the needed changes and sustained results. So, he was absolutely a supporter and advocate for the city and its residents. But his reach encompassed much more. He was an advocate for his entire district and the state. He looked to what was best in each part of the community and looked to how to use its example as a solutions roadmap for other areas. 

What is your position on environmental protections here in Maryland and across the country? In July, I asked the Attorney General to issue an opinion on whether local jurisdictions were following federal and state forest conservation laws pertaining to our priority forests. The opinion has triggered local jurisdictions to review and strengthen local laws across the state. In October I filed a joint resolution asking the General Assembly of Maryland to officially declare a climate emergency, the first step needed for rapid response. Last session I introduced successful legislation that required better downstream jurisdictional and public notice of contaminated rivers and streams. I sponsored successful legislation to allow local jurisdictions to limit the use of plastic bags. I did not succeed with legislation that sought to conserve energy in state funded buildings and to evaluate construction projects with a goal towards limiting bird strikes. We can do better to protect our steep slopes, to lessen impervious surfaces, to protect trees and to reduce impacts from development. Additionally, at the state level we try to fight against the rollback of environmental protections by the federal government. These rollbacks related to water quality, chemical regulations, fuel consumption and emissions have devastating effects, especially in our poor and urban communities. We must take action now, to restore our protections and to survive climate change. 

Are you in support of the Green New Deal? I support the far-reaching goals of the Green New Deal Resolution to reduce consumption of fossil fuels and limit greenhouse gas emissions and to translate these efforts into high paying jobs in clean energy industries. 

Liz Matory (R)

Please write a few words about who you are and your background. What makes you the best candidate? I’m the unicorn. Before unicorns were cool. Having been a democrat operative and now vocal conservative advocate, I have fought through a lot of the persistent issues still facing our community. Like so many other voters, I grew tired of the lip service and empty promises of my former party. We need someone who can remain nimble and passionate to fight for all of us. Not tow the party line, but have the power to discern the best answers for our district. If we elect a traditional lifelong fill in the blank, we will not find solutions, only continued frustration. And if we nominate a republican who has built their reputation on bashing the last representative, we will not make any progress either. 

I am also the only candidate who has received a nomination for congress in the 21st century meaning almost 78,000 voters in 2018 wanted me to represent them in congress. No other candidate has had that honor from recent history. I was born and raised in DC. Attended Sidwell Friends, Columbia University, Howard Law and received my MBA from the Robert H Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. I am a part of the lost generation of lawyers, those who finished law school around the economic downturn so I went to non-profit fundraising instead of practicing law. After working on the Hill for congressman from California, I got to serve on the founding team of the first all-girls public charter school for girls in Washington. It was then when I realized that one or two schools in Southeast were not enough to address generational poverty and the miseducation of our youth. I returned to my alma mater Howard University School of Law to serve as the director of development under Mayor Schmoke and my sense of urgency led me to pursue by MBA. By the end of B-school, I had already started my first campaign at the state level. That was also the year that I saw how the sausage was made by being a democrat field organizer for the 2014 gubernatorial election. The greatest spark of consciousness was when I reconnected with Christopher Barry for his special election to fill his late father, Marion Barry’s seat on the DC City Council. Chris actually said he would be a republican because his entrepreneurial and patriotic spirit is more aligned with that party. Christopher succumbed to his drug addiction on August 14, 2016 and my life was permanently altered from his death. In many ways, having lost my first love, I have no choice but to fight and push forward. As of 2018, the 2nd congressional district was the most viable seat for a political convert, and graciously I received the republican nomination and garnered almost 78,000 votes for congress.  On November 30, 2018, I accepted Jesus as my personal lord and savior and do believe wholeheartedly that only He is the way, the truth, and the life.

What is your fundraising goal, and who will you be targeting for fundraising? My goal is to raise enough money to connect with the right voters first in the primary and then later in the general. I am targeting former supporters from both Maryland and across the country, since my message resonates with other disenfranchised voters from other states who are also interested in conserving our republic. Corporate donations are not allowed on the federal level. Though PACs are. If I share the same values as the PACs, I will accept the contributions. And since the teacher’s union is the largest special interest group in our state, I have to have something to counterbalance the goliath that feeds the political establishment here in Maryland.

Rep. Cummings was regarded by some as a lifelong civil rights champion, especially concerning voting rights for all. What makes you the best candidate to continue this work?  Both Congressman Cummings and I graduated from Howard University. Our alma mater has instilled in us the same understanding and love for our cultural heritage. It is because of the encouragement and support I personally received from Congressman Cummings that I am running for the 7th. The moment that he passed away, I knew that no other Republican would have the ability to honor what was good and be honest with what was not as good. I am running to ensure that our country remains the greatest country on earth and that every citizen knows and values that he or she is the most powerful citizen ever created in the history of humanity. I wholeheartedly believe that we must return to our shared conservative and Christian values. Most of us live by conservative principles and we don’t even know it. What people claim to want in their representative will never be achieved by condoning socialist/communist ideologies. The party that Cummings started out in does not exist at the time of his death. Most democrats know this and that is why you see so many running despite his widow’s candidacy.

Do you think it’s important to continue investigating the president? If so, why are you the best candidate to continue to hold the powerful accountable? I think everyone in office or formerly in office should be scrutinized at the level that the current administration is being scrutinized. I look forward to identifying the several missing pieces starting with who slaughtered Seth Rich and why 70% of our uranium is now owned by foreign countries and companies. If you investigate one, investigate the last four administrations. It’s only fair.

How familiar with you with the demographics of the people who live in Congressional District 7 and the challenges they face? How will you meet the needs of the people who live in this district? Having spent the last five campaigning through the region either as a candidate or a campaign worker, I am extremely familiar with the gerrymandered districts and their demographics. 

One of the best things to ever come from CD7’s gerrymandering is that it now includes rural, suburban, and urban communities. Since 2012 sadly many of the citizens in CD7 did not think that their representative cared very much about their needs because he only spent time in heavily democratic voting areas. And it turns out that much of the issues that were in existence since 1983 are still present and perhaps have gotten worse over the years. 

What else can voters do, but to vote for some who refused to continue that dead end and found better more sustainable solutions. I have had the honor of hearing directly from voters and I have heard them loud and clear. This election for this district is the best way to represent citizens and help us get back to our shared values of individual liberty, God-centered living, personal responsibility, and economic sustainability.

Many in Baltimore regarded Cummings as a great supporter of and advocate for the city. Do you agree? What will you do for Baltimore City?  Cummings was a very vocal supporter of his city, but many civic leaders acknowledge that the 2012 gerrymandered weakened his representation by dividing the city among three congressional districts, giving some to Sarbanes and some to Ruppersberger.  These other two congressman have been able to glade down easy street while Cummings had to do the heaviest lifting and received all the negative attention for what was ultimately a shared responsibility for every elected official related to the city. The best thing I can do for the City is learn from the people who have been in the trenches for decades. They know what works and they also know who are the crooks. I don’t have any cut cards, so we need someone who is willing to listen but have the brains to figure things out. Very few people have had the opportunity to connect with the several sides of society. Our congressional representative must be able to respect the city, honestly and prayerfully – that is what I offer. We will not find solutions, unless we return to our Christian values.

What is your position on environmental protections here in Maryland and across the country? We have very strong environmental protections in our state, but has we have found out there needs to be collaboration between the states that share resources. Federal regulations, while some are necessary, ultimately favor corporations who want to protect their market share from competitors who could offer better services to consumers. Congress has lost a lot of its credibility because of the deals made with such cronies who pay to keep their favored representatives in office. The longer someone is in office (especially through the several levels of government – local then state then federal) they have become beholden to their donor base more than their constituents. As we have seen so brilliantly in Maryland politics, Baltimore specifically.

Are you in support of the Green New Deal? Absolutely not. I think it’s a very ingenious way for communism to take hold of our constitutional republic. As with many overreaching government efforts, they start off sounding nice and altruistic, but in the long run were only ways for individual liberty and constitutional rights to be relinquished and muted.

Saafir Rabb (D)

Please write a few words about who you are and your background. What makes you the best candidate? 

For too long Maryland’s 7th Congressional District has been underserved by Washington despite the District sending more than its fair share of earnest public servants to Congress. There is lots of potential here but it’s been hamstrung by the old ways of politics at both the federal and local level. I have spent my life in the service of this district’s residents: building affordable housing, helping addicts rebuild their lives, and creating jobs in Baltimore and beyond. People are tired of hearing platitudes and promises, and throughout my career I’ve worked across difference to get meaningful work done for ordinary people. We have arrived at a point in this country where office holders at the highest levels of our government routinely attack our allies abroad and our own citizens, including this very district. Our district is not the “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” that our President would have our fellow Americans believe. Our district needs forceful leadership, and means that stepping up to serve is an obligation.

Saafir Rabb is a business strategist, community developer, and advocate for cultural competence. Born in Baltimore City and growing up between Baltimore and Howard County, he has spent his life working behind the scenes in the communities of Maryland’s 7th district, promoting social enterprise, expanding addictions recovery efforts, building low to moderate income housing, and creating jobs for residents. Saafir went on to build a business career with global philanthropic reach. Throughout this career, he has remained committed to changing the circumstances of District 7 for the better. Saafir is proud of his Maryland heritage and is dedicated to improving the apparatus through which communities connect with their representatives. Saafir’s story starts out like many others in the 7th district. He was born in a city rife with failed programs that have divided Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County. His neighborhood, like many others in the 7th, lost close to half of all residents due to financial woes, violence that has taken lives and a never-ending drug epidemic now being felt throughout the region, and has witnessed program after program fail to make real change. As the son of a teacher and a union steelworker, Saafir is dedicated to promoting workers rights, strengthening unions and protections, and raising the minimum wage. Our friends, family and neighbors should not have to work multiple jobs in order to put food on the table for their families; this is why Saafir has a strategy that reprioritizes middle class Americans. Saafir has developed an accomplished business career that spans the globe. He has focused his business efforts on promoting diversity and inclusion, building a broad international network of business leaders in the process. This has given him a unique lens into international problems. Saafir will champion diplomacy, working to find common ground solutions that promote peace while opposing irresponsible policies that hurt American credibility at home and abroad. Saafir graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, and received a Masters degree from Johns Hopkins University. Saafir served as an advisor to President Barack Obama’s transition team and is currently a board member with the Coalition for Black Excellence and Words Beats and Life.

What is your fundraising goal, and who will you be targeting for fundraising? Sadly, due to the nature of American campaign finance this race will require several hundred thousand dollars in order to win. Our nation is long overdue for campaign finance reform at the state, local, and federal level. Until such time, I plan to accept donations from people who see promise in my ability to represent and serve the residents of Maryland’s 7th District in Congress. I will not be accepting donations from corporations or corporate PACs. We welcome support from groups dedicated to electing leaders who will improve the conditions of working Americans, our schools, our environment, and our community. I will evaluate each group on its individual merits when accepting or declining contributions.

Rep. Cummings was regarded by some as a lifelong civil rights champion, especially concerning voting rights for all. What makes you the best candidate to continue this work?  I was born in the district, have served the district, and understand the district. Turning that service into legislative influence to continue a legacy of pragmatic and progressive priorities in Congress is my chief goal. To that end I would create legislation to expand federal funding for states implementing automatic voter registration and push for additional oversight over states and localities that pursue voter roll purges.

Do you think it’s important to continue investigating the president? If so, why are you the best candidate to continue to hold the powerful accountable? Yes without a doubt. The President and his administration have consistently engaged in a series of potentially illegal activities, which have tainted the image of our nation both at home and abroad. Like most Americans and residents of the 7th District, I too have low regard those who are corrupt and will not hold the powerful accountable. This nation needs leaders whose lives and work reflect the hope and promise of America. We need to show moral courage and hold the powerful accountable, especially those in elected office, now more than ever.

How familiar with you with the demographics of the people who live in Congressional District 7 and the challenges they face? How will you meet the needs of the people who live in this district? I was born and raised in the district. My life is in the district. My business is in district. We are not the victims that President Trump would have our fellow Americans and the world believe. While he may target and criticize our city, his administration represents an expression of moral decay and is emblematic of the kind of government that has neglected its constituents time and time again. We are Americans in need of tangible proof that we have awoken from this collective American nightmare; affordable housing, good schools, criminal justice reform, and jobs. I have the experience of working across difference to bring jobs and addictions recovery to the residents of this district. I have dedicated my life doing that. That dedication comes from an awareness of the district and its unique challenges. I ask for the opportunity to continue to dedicate myself to the residents of Baltimore, Baltimore County, and Howard County in our nation’s capital.

Many in Baltimore regarded Cummings as a great supporter of and advocate for the city. Do you agree? What will you do for Baltimore City?  I believe that Cummings was a great supporter and advocate for the city. It will be impossible to fill his shoes but we can continue on the path that he was walking. Like Rep. Cummings, I will be an advocate for the city and the district as a whole. Many challenges we face here in the 7th often bleed across county lines, across socio-economic lines, and racial divides. The scourge of addiction plagues residents of White Marsh and Columbia, just as it does residents of Park Heights. We need to tackle addiction, vagrancy, and economic stagnation which have held us back from our full potential. My life’s work will inform how I tackle those issues in Congress, issues I’ve dedicated two decades to at the local level.

What is your position on environmental protections here in Maryland and across the country? Addressing climate change is a top priority and we need to reinstate Obama-era protections for our natural resources as a first step. This administration’s efforts to undermine America’s natural heritage are deeply unpatriotic and must be rolled back. We must recommit ourselves to that fight beginning right now. In Ellicott City, for example, we’ve seen how climate change has led to excess flooding. In recent years, Maryland has experienced some of the worst storm seasons in memory, including flooding compounded by climate change. 

Are you in support of the Green New Deal? Climate change is a global challenge. I support measures like the Green New Deal to address fundamental issues of environmental health, which have gone unaddressed or under addressed by our government. 

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