Our state has been ranked #1 for several years in a row and that success will remain if we, as a state, begin to shift our focus to the most vulnerable citizens by starting them off on the right foot in their academic growth.
Having universal pre-kindergarten schooling for all Maryland children is imperative to have if we are to get serious about the continued success of our statewide education system.
With statewide, voluntary, pre-kindergarten schooling, the achievement gap will shrink tremendously and, it is my belief, that the “race to the bottom” stigma that has plagued many of our minority citizens will eventually be lifted. This is particularly true in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education.
Studies have shown that several million jobs go unfilled because our citizens, as a state and nation, are lacking skills in the STEM careers. Funding for more STEM educated teachers for both K-12 and
higher education schools is needed if
we want to grow our economy.
The State of Maryland has been recognized nationally for several key societal advancements, with Healthcare being one of them. Our State possesses The Johns Hopkins Hospital, which has been nationally and internationally ranked as a top-tier hospital for several decades.
However, on a more local level, Prince George’s County has had a few issues in regards to Healthcare. Affordability and access are two issues that are near and dear to my heart. As a grandson of four individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer, I know all too well the struggles a family endures when a loved one is ill.
I am encouraged knowing that our county will be receiving a brand new hospital facility in Largo, Maryland located right by the Largo Town Center Metro Station. This facility will open up numerous amounts of opportunities for our citizens to receive adequate healthcare. But alongside of this initiative should be plans to reduce the ever-rising costs of healthcare.
Working in Annapolis, I would receive call after call from my neighbors who lived on a retirement fixed income and, due to the rise in the cost of living, it was becoming increasingly hard to make ends meet every month. As saddening as that is, hardly anything has yet to be proposed to combat and resolve this issue and that is something
that I cannot stand for as a leader.
My plan is to establish homeowner property tax discount assistance programs and property tax postponement for individuals over the federal retirement age. This assures them that they do not have to worry about choosing whether to pay medical and heating bills or rent and groceries.
During economic hardship, our government should preserve their retirement funds and pensions. I am strongly against any efforts that intend to cut pension plans for senior citizens just to balance the budget. These individuals have earned their right to a good quality lifestyle after working to enhance our county and state economies; let us not cut away their sources of income and devalue their livelihoods.
Several Marylanders who were brought to this nation and state, through no fault of their own, suffer from economic and social oppression because they cannot achieve the American Dream of providing a sense of prosperity to their families. It is because of this that I am an advocate of the Dream Act, which gives people living in this situation a sense of true American hope and optimism.
Women, historically, have been paid almost a quarter less to every dollar a man has made for equal work. With the structure of our society shifting to a more equal gender workforce, equal payment for equal work needs to be engrained into the fabrics
of our economic system.
Citizens of the LGBT community have lived in fear of expressing who they are simply because they do not want to lose their job in the chance that their employer might not agree. I am a strong supporter of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) legislation and I am proud knowing that many of our federal representatives for the State of Maryland are also in favor of this bill.
As I travel throughout Prince George’s County, I hear time and time again of the need to reduce crime and have increased funding for Fire/EMS services. As a person who has family members serving our county in the PGPD and PGFD, I strongly favor any measure that will appropriately fund and equip our county’s Department of Public Safety.
Crime rates in our county have historically been higher than some of our neighboring counties, such as Anne Arundel and Montgomery. Despite this, through continued funding and efforts from religious, community and governmental leaders, we have seen several crime statistics drop in numbers over the years. This pattern of decline in our crime rates can be directly attributed to these individuals and it is my hope that their efforts will be continued.
Our county's crime rates are not the only issue that face public safety. I am quite aware of the problems that Fire/EMS services encounter. Many stations are staffed with volunteers, sometimes full time. However, many of these volunteers are full-time firefighters in other counties due to the lack of salary and benefits funding in Prince George's County.
This is an issue that must be quickly addressed to ensure that our Fire/EMS stations are fully staffed with well trained individuals.
Whether it is traveling to work and school or going out to shop and taking the kids to practice, we rely on good quality roadways to get us there. Unfortunately, our county has a severe pothole problem on many of our major state, county, and local roads. This can be fixed by fighting to bring home more state and local funding to address and repair many potholes that cause traffic congestion and accidents.
The National Harbor has been an ongoing project for Southern Prince George’s County and is said to bring in millions of revenue dollars to the county and state. This would result in an
increase of funding for education, public safety, and infrastructure. However, if many residents cannot get to the National Harbor due to the lack of public transit, then we are falling short of our revenue goals. Let’s increase the Metro Bus services to the National Harbor and develop concrete plans to bring a Metro train station to the National Harbor, Prince George’s County's newest attraction.
For years, our state has been ranked as one of the top wealthiest states; however for many of our middle-class citizens who go throughout life scrapping by from paycheck to paycheck, this wealth is not attainable, just visible. It is time we remain focused on growing our statewide economy from the middle-class outward.
A higher minimum wage will bring more money into the middle-class economy and
will even produce thousands of jobs because when workers have more money, businesses have more customers. With the raising of the statewide minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, there has to be a stronger emphasis placed on job training and hands-on skill development of workers.
As a solution, I propose that we implement workplace training courses, workshops,
and in person seminars into the more economically challenged areas of our county. There needs to be a movement to go into these communities that see economic hardship the most and highlight and encourage those who have been out of work for a long period of time to seek workplace education and training.
Apart from the Federal Government, the Chesapeake Bay is one of this state’s largest economic drivers. Several small businesses are started and located on the shore of the Bay and several larger businesses use the Bay as an avenue to import and export goods and services.
Recent studies have shown that the Chesapeake Bay has a large percentage of dead zones where, because of pollution, wildlife has disappeared in many areas of our Bay. Apart from the state of Alaska, our state has the largest coastline in the country and it should be a key part of our government’s agenda to preserve and protect the Chesapeake Bay.
I am in favor of the newly enacted storm water management fee that allows our state to work with New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, all of who have rivers and waterways that connect to the Chesapeake Bay, in order to reduce the flow of harmful chemicals into one of this state’s most historical landmarks and economic driver.
When our young adults are actively engaged in our communities and economy, they are not only more successful in school and at home, but we see reductions in crime and teen pregnancy. Often times, teens who are stuck at home during the winter and summer breaks from school are looking for ways to be actively engaged. It is up to our community and governmental leaders to provide employment and community service opportunities for them to participate in and that is something I will strongly advocate and fight for.
Our Community Centers serve multiple roles in our neighborhoods. Parents can enroll their children into day and evening childcare programs with confidence knowing that the space is safe and accommodating. Young adults can enjoy recreational sports and activities that allow them to be actively engaged with their peers instead of walking our streets being prone to unwanted and illegal activities. Our senior citizens can also utilize the community centers for daytime events and programs that keep them active and healthy. I support the expansion of our parks and recreational community centers as they serve many different and positive needs for our neighbors of all ages.