2018 Gubernatorial Candidates Survey

Monday, June 4, 2018

June 26, 2018 – Maryland Primary Elections

November 6, 2018 – Maryland General Elections

MCA worked in conjunction with AEMS (Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance) to create this gubernatorial survey, sent to each of the candidates for the 2018 elections. Candidates were asked to respond to the following questions, to help us empower voters through sharing information about where each of the candidates stands on the arts:

  1. Please briefly state your Gubernatorial platform statement.
  2. What role has the arts played in your life?
  3. What is your position on state funding for the arts and how, if elected Governor, would you express your stance within the state budget process?
  4. The Maryland State Board of Election has adopted the goal that 100 percent of Maryland’s students will participate in fine arts programs as part of a world class, well-rounded education. [State regulation: COMAR 13A.04.16.01] What will you do to ensure equitable access to consistent education in all five arts subjects (dance, media arts, music, theater, and visual arts) taught by qualified professionals in all Maryland Public Schools?
  5. In your opinion, what is the role of public art in improving community health?
  6. As governor of Maryland, what will your commitment be to independent artists and small independent arts businesses?

The following campaigns did not respond:

Governor Larry Hogan

Mr. Ralph Jaffe

Mr. James Jones,II

Candidates listed in alphabetical order.

For more information about the elections, click here.
To register to vote, click here.

County Executive Rushern Baker

1. Please briefly state your Gubernatorial platform statement.

Maryland has a remarkable cultural legacy, and a more robust arts community now than at any other time in our history. The arts are embedded across many parts of the state and there are terrific artists, institutions and programs here. It is also evident that there are great opportunities for growth in the creative culture sector and that equity of access to and participation in the arts for all of our citizens is a critical need. As Governor, Rushern Baker will ensure that the arts are part of the education of every child in Maryland. Governor Baker will integrate them across state government, engaging the arts community in strategic planning to support and build on what is already working. Governor Baker will grow resources for the arts, creating new opportunities to extend access to the arts throughout our state, and will invest in and cultivate the state’s creative economy. The arts currently contribute more than one billion dollars to Maryland’s economy and are a major attractor of business development, are critical to innovation and startups and, bottom line, create jobs. Beyond the numbers, the arts bridge cultural divides; they facilitate expression of diverse ideas and civil discourse thus enabling our democracy to thrive. The arts are vital to world-class public education building the capacities for creativity, collaboration and effective communication essential to the success of our youth. The arts contribute to great public schools, vibrant communities and the quality of life we all want for our children, our grandchildren and ourselves.

2. What role has the arts played in your life?

The arts played an important role in my life growing up, and as a parent of two professional artists and art educators, I know the impact the arts can have on our children, our communities and our state. As Prince George’s County Executive, I have invested in and integrated the arts throughout county programs from the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative, the Prince George’s County Public Schools, Arts and Entertainment Districts, community development, out of school experiences for children, to enhancing public infrastructure through a robust public art program. I will bring that commitment and experience to the State as Governor.

3. What is your position on state funding for the arts and how, if elected Governor, would you express your stance within the state budget process?

I am committed to provide robust resources to directly support the arts. I will fully comply with the 1994 Arts Stabilization Act in the administration budgetary process and I commit to achieving the goal of 10% funding. The state’s role in supporting the arts through the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) has for the past 50 years recognized the stake we all have in sustaining our arts organizations and local arts Councils. We must provide arts education from our earliest years and ensure equity of access to the arts for everyone in Maryland. It is also important to stimulate innovation in our creative economy and catalyze the production and presentation of high quality arts across the state.

The arts sector has grown rapidly in Maryland as has the diversity of our population and the gap in economic prospects among our citizens. It is time to recalibrate the reach and effectiveness of the ways we reach and engage our citizens in and through the arts.

The MSAC is undertaking a strategic planning process; this is an opportunity to ensure that the values of the state and its citizens through the arts are being reflected throughout the programs of the MSAC. I will participate in the MSAC Strategic Planning Process personally and assign a liaison from the Governor’s office.

I will grow arts funding that builds stability and opportunity for artists and audiences. Public funding for the arts is essential to enable stability of arts organizations and to ensure access to the arts by all citizens.

I will commit to achieving the goal of 10% funding for the general operating budgets of qualifying arts organizations within the first four years of my administration and ensure that resources are distributed in an equitable manner.

Decision making on the expenditure of public dollars on the arts by the MSAC and other state agencies should be transparent, open and inclusive, as should the establishment of goals, priorities, and criteria. As governor, I will use Maryland’s borrowing capacity to provide capital support for arts organizations and artist spaces through the bond process, and set capital arts investment goals for the Governor’s bond program. I will also work to ensure outreach and technical assistance for under served areas of the state.

I will utilize funding through public interest bonds as a strategy for capital funding for arts and cultural infrastructure development just as it is for other sectors.

In order to further support our artists, I will use the Low-Income Housing Credit (LIHC) for tax credits to make artists’ housing affordable.

4. The Maryland State Board of Election has adopted the goal that 100 percent of Maryland’s students will participate in fine arts programs as part of a world class, well-rounded education. [State regulation: COMAR 13A.04.16.01] What will you do to ensure equitable access to consistent education in all five arts subjects (dance, media arts, music, theater, and visual arts) taught by qualified professionals in all Maryland Public Schools?

I commit to Ensuring Equity and Excellence in Arts Education in Public Schools.The arts build valuable life skills and capacities. They are forms of literacy and they enable full participation in all of our rich and diverse cultures and community life in Maryland. They are a source of well-being and joy. Students who are deprived of an education in the arts are denied the enormous benefits to their intellectual, social, emotional and creative development and to their future careers.

While some schools in Maryland provide excellent arts education, some have little or no arts instruction. This is unjust and it is counter to our best interests as citizens.

As governor, I will work to guarantee equity of participation in arts education for all students in state policy and programs.

I believe that we must provide full funding of the Kirwan Commission recommendations being sure that adequate funding means enabling schools to comply with the COMAR regulations for the Fine Arts as amended in November 2017.

I will monitor compliance with COMAR and restore funding MSDE’s Fine Arts Initiative grants to at least the level they were before the recession.

It is critical to encourage equity of access to arts enrichment offered by arts organizations and artists. We must also build networking access between schools and the local arts community for sustainable student engagement in learning in and through the arts.

5. In your opinion, what is the role of public art in improving community health?

I believe in the power of the arts to bring us together and foster our essential humanity. Under my leadership the arts will be a priority across state government, they will be infused into my administration’s culture.

Beyond investing in the arts through the Maryland State Arts Council budget, there are opportunities to integrate arts throughout state government. MSAC is in the Department of Commerce, and while the connection of the arts to the economy is evident, other agencies should be seeking opportunities to leverage Maryland’s creative sector and heighten the contributions the arts make across dimensions of our lives such as veterans services, care for the elderly, housing, public safety, health and infrastructure.

As governor, I will look more broadly at the ways the arts intersect with the work of all state agencies and create arts positions within my administration.

I will make excellence in design a priority in all state capital and infrastructure projects across all agencies and, in capital projects, ensure full participation in the MSAC Public Art Program and leverage the investment of private developers in public art.

As with all aspects of my administration, I will ensure openness and and transparency in access to arts opportunities throughout state government for all artists.

I will also review building codes costs and processes relative to artists’ spaces with the goal of expediting access to affordable solutions.

6. As governor of Maryland, what will your commitment be to independent artists and small independent arts businesses?

Independent artists and small independent arts businesses are critical to building a strong creative economy. I pledge to invest in and promote Maryland’s creative economy.

The arts and culture industry in Maryland generates more than one billion dollars in economic activity for the state, and supports more than 25,000 full-time equivalent jobs. When Maryland invests in the arts, we invest in an industry that provides and supports jobs, generates government revenue, promotes tourism, and attracts and retains new residents. The arts and cultural industry grows related businesses including restaurants, retail, media and manufacturing. Maryland’s film industry and the broader film and digital media cluster has also been an important part of state and local creative economies. The multiplier effect of having creative people in a community yields benefits in building tourism, as well.

Maryland needs to be strategic in leveraging the innovative capacity of our citizens to reflect the diversity of our state and realize the tremendous potential of our creative economy.

With this in mind, I believe we must provide support for entrepreneurs in the creative economy by passing a CREATE Maryland Act-Comprehensive Resources for Entrepreneurs in the Arts to Transform the Economy– based on the proposed federal legislation. This legislation will support the economic success of creative and cultural producers.

It is important that artists in our state have exposure. I will work to provide artists and creative businesses access to resources for global expansion and promote the work of our artists to the public.

Mr. Ben Jealous

1. Please briefly state your Gubernatorial platform statement.

I’m running for governor, not because I need a job, but because I have a vision. A vision where we fully fund our schools, ensure universal healthcare and stop rising premiums, and invest in communities across the state to ensure economic opportunity for all. I’m a civil rights leader and community organizer who was named who was named the youngest ever National President and CEO of the NAACP. In 2012, I was named Marylander of the Year by The Baltimore Sun for leading the effort to pass the Maryland DREAM Act, ensure marriage equality, abolish the death penalty, and expand voting rights — all in one year.

Many people may tell you the things I want to do are big, well, I’ve specialized in doing big things my entire life and Marylanders are ready for a governor able to actually solve their problems.

2. What role has the arts played in your life?

My own education and the education of my two children has been immeasurably enhanced by the arts. I saw at an early age that every kid learned differently, and introducing the arts in a learning environment could draw in many kids who found standard methods less helpful. I’ve been endorsed by the 74,000 educators represented by the Maryland State Education Association because I’m committed to making sure every child is able to learn and teachers are given the tools and resources to teach them. That includes adequate funding for the arts in our public schools and a governor willing to value them.

3. What is your position on state funding for the arts and how, if elected Governor, would you express your stance within the state budget process?

I believe that the state should prioritize funding for the arts and treat it as a needed, fundamental part of our budget. Especially when it comes to education, we need to recognize the proven benefits of a holistic education. Access to the arts should not be stratified by zip code, nor should it be relegated to the private sector. As governor, I will work with localities to ensure that every Marylander has the opportunity to build on our rich artistic history.

4. The Maryland State Board of Election has adopted the goal that 100 percent of Maryland’s students will participate in fine arts programs as part of a world class, well-rounded education. [State regulation: COMAR 13A.04.16.01] What will you do to ensure equitable access to consistent education in all five arts subjects (dance, media arts, music, theater, and visual arts) taught by qualified professionals in all Maryland Public Schools?

I’m committed to fully funding our public schools — the Maryland State Education Association, which represents over 74,000 educators, endorsed me because I’m the only candidate they trust to put our kids first and finally fully fund our schools. Part of that promise is the guarantee that the arts will be a part of that funding. I saw in my own life and in my childrens’ lives, the benefit that the arts can have in improving educational outcomes. As governor, I’ll treat all of Maryland’s kids as my own and ensure that they all are able to participate in fine arts programs.

5. In your opinion, what is the role of public art in improving community health?

Growing up I spent my summers with my grandparents in West Baltimore. My life there was defined by the street performers, a capella singers, and musicians. Over the years, these artists which made up the fabric of our community, slowly disappeared. Creating public spaces for the community to come together, engage in cultural exchanges and expression, and simply enjoy a beautiful day together, is incredibly important for maintaining community health. As governor, I’ll work with local jurisdictions to ensure that local artists and art is uplifted.

6. As governor of Maryland, what will your commitment be to independent artists and small independent arts businesses?

We need to support our small businesses and entrepreneurs. That includes independent arts businesses and independent artists. I’ve put out a plan for economic development which focuses on building our economy from the bottom up. Additionally, one of the greatest costs facing small businesses is the cost of healthcare for employees. Healthcare also holds back entrepreneurs from leaving their jobs and innovating. That’s why I’ve put out a plan for Medicare-for-All that would ensure that every Marylander has quality healthcare. This plan will lower prescription drug costs, ensure universal coverage and stop rising premiums.

Senator Rich Madaleno

1. Please briefly state your Gubernatorial platform statement.

I urge you to support my campaign for governor because I will provide real results and proven progressive leadership on the issues of importance to Maryland families. I am the only candidate with the experience and a proven record of accomplishments — in areas critical to Maryland families such as education, civil rights, labor and the arts — and a true progressive vision for our future. There is no other candidate in the race – including the incumbent – who brings such a track record of leadership and real results for the people of Maryland. My goal is to make sure all young people “Thrive by 25” by improving the quality and accessibility of education at all levels, so that young people are ready to succeed in the career of their choosing. To achieve this goal, I will build a 21st century public school system for Maryland; increase resources to our schools; recruit, support and retain high quality teachers, and pay them accordingly; build and support community schools; expand pre-kindergarten programs; enhance efforts for children with special needs; and ensure students’ nutritional needs are met. I will develop and implement new, innovative programs to ensure college affordability, such as creating education savings accounts for children in kindergarten, and ensuring and implementing tuition-free community college for families with incomes below $150,000 and college free of debt. I will initiate additional career and technical education and apprenticeship programs to provide critical training and experience. On the critical issues facing the people of our state we need a bold, tireless governor who can set an agenda of progress for all Marylanders. I will be that governor. From education to transportation, from economic development to economic justice, from sustainable healthcare to environmental sustainability, Larry Hogan has not served the people of Maryland. I will.

2. What role has the arts played in your life?

I have loved the arts since my parents took me to my first musical, “Fiddler on the Roof”, at the now long-gone Shady Grove Performing Arts Center when I was growing up in Montgomery County. Since then I have attended and appreciated many musicals, plays, performances and installations. During the past sixteen years I have been the leading champion for the arts in the General Assembly. I have represented the Senate on the Maryland State Arts Council for the past twelve years. I am also our annual cheerleader at MCA’s Maryland Arts Day. As both a Delegate and State Senator, I have championed bills to support our arts programs and facilities — from the Writers Center to Imagination Stage to the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric — to this year’s bond bills I sponsored for the Olney Theater and Round House Theater, as well as my work to secure funding for an expansion of the Music Center at Strathmore. I am proud of my record of success in supporting and developing arts programs, facilities, and opportunities in the arts for all Marylanders.

3. What is your position on state funding for the arts and how, if elected Governor, would you express your stance within the state budget process?

As State Senator and Vice-Chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, I have for many years vigorously and successfully advocated to protect and ensure state funding of the arts. In 2016 I championed a revision to the MSAC formula that provides balanced annual increases so as to move the state to the 10% operating goal in a more rapid manner. I have worked closely for many years with Maryland Citizens for the Arts to make sure we not only express our support for the arts, but more importantly provide needed funding to allow the arts to thrive. I have also worked to fulfill the stated goal that the state provide 10% of an organization’s budget in funding arts organizations. You will recognize my well-established record of commitment to the arts in my budget as governor. As governor I will continue to strongly support state funding for the arts through my budget.

As Delegate I introduced the law that established the Maryland Public Art Initiative Program to promote the installation of artwork in public facilities in the State and to provide for the acquisition of public art assets. As State Senator I successfully expanded public art in Maryland by introducing and championing the state law that requires that public art be installed in all buildings fully funded by the state. The sculpture “Forum” by Thomas Sayre outside the new Performing Arts and Humanities Building at UMBC is one example of recently installed public art at a public building, one example of how public art enriches a public university and its students’ lives.

My legislative work has increased state support of the arts through approval of state bond bills to fund improvements and construction of arts facilities, from Strathmore to the Writers Center to the Imagination Stage children’s theatre to the Kids International Discovery Museum to the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric. I have fully supported and championed funding for the arts in Maryland and will continue to do so as governor.

4. The Maryland State Board of Election has adopted the goal that 100 percent of Maryland’s students will participate in fine arts programs as part of a world class, well-rounded education. [State regulation: COMAR 13A.04.16.01] What will you do to ensure equitable access to consistent education in all five arts subjects (dance, media arts, music, theater, and visual arts) taught by qualified professionals in all Maryland Public Schools?

I fully support the state regulation’s goals for arts education. I believe we can build a world-class education system that provides greater opportunities for all our children and enriches their lives and opportunities through exposure to the arts and arts instruction. Strengthening and investing in our schools, from pre-school all the way through higher education, will be my top priority as our next governor.

One of the best indications of my commitment to education is the leadership I have provided over the past year on the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (Kirwan Commission) which was charged with establishing the future direction for our education system in Maryland. The Commission recently released its preliminary recommendations, which provide a substantive blueprint for improving education and opportunity for all Maryland children, especially those with significant challenges.

The Kirwan Commission has put forward five key recommendations, which are the following:
– First, invest more in high-quality early childhood education, including full day preschool for all 4-year olds and all low-income 3-year olds;
– Second, significantly increase spending for at risk children, including those living in poverty;
– Third, increase compensation and support for educators, improve new teacher education and training programs and raise certification standards — in short, elevate teaching into a high-status profession as it should be;
– Fourth, make college- and career-readiness a priority for all of our children, strengthening the curriculum and expanding pathways in high school to ensure every student graduates prepared for success—having taken college preparatory courses, earning college credits and/or participating in a career and technical program that leads to an industry-certified professional credential;
– Fifth, strengthen governance and accountability so that the public knows that our investments in our schools are achieving results.

One of my top priorities as governor will be to implement these recommendations. I will be the education governor.

5. In your opinion, what is the role of public art in improving community health?

I sponsored the bill that creates the Maryland Public Arts Initiative program to provide public art in public facilities because I believe that art benefits the health and well-being of Maryland communities. I was a co-sponsor of the bill which requires that all state-funded buildings include public art. This is an important way for communities to be able to participate in, access and appreciate art. And public art is an important element of improving community health. Access to public art at a public hospital, for example, allows all members of the public to benefit from the healing power of art.

6. As governor of Maryland, what will your commitment be to independent artists and small independent arts businesses?

As governor of Maryland, what will your commitment be to independent artists and small independent arts businesses?As governor of Maryland I will be fully committed to supporting independent artists and small independent arts businesses. I advocated for the law we passed this year to require that 10% of the tax credits for certain film production activities be reserved for qualified small or independent film entities. I also championed the law that expands eligibility for tax benefits for arts and entertainment districts to allow artists who reside in Maryland and create and sell their art in the arts district to utilize these tax benefits. I will continue to support independent artists and small independent arts businesses through funding by the Maryland State Arts Council and through legislation in support of public arts and arts districts in our state.

Mr. Alec Ross

1. Please briefly state your Gubernatorial platform statement.

Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not; we can change that.

2. What role has the arts played in your life?

The arts certainly shaped my upbringing and development, but I want to focus on what they have meant to me most recently as a father. I have three children, ages 15, 13, and 11, and when my wife and I make choices about the things we will expose our children too, the arts always figure extremely prominently. A lot of my happiest memories of parenting is time spent on weekend mornings participating in the program at the Walters Art Museum for three, four, and five-year olds. That interest in the arts remains today, and all of our kids are in the TWIGS program, with focuses ranging from dance to violin to the visual arts. Currently, a lot of my interaction with my kids is in the context of what they are doing in the arts. I know this is more about my kids than it is about me, but given that my life right now is dominated by two things, my work and parenting my children, I see how clearly immersion in the arts is something special, and I know how much your organization appreciates the ways it can transform the lives of young people.

3. What is your position on state funding for the arts and how, if elected Governor, would you express your stance within the state budget process?

We must express our values by making sure that funding for the arts is prioritized in state budgets for education and economic development. Particularly when it comes to education, it shouldn’t be the case that the arts program is the first thing to be cut when budgets need to be pared down. I came to Maryland 24 years ago as a sixth grade public school teacher in Baltimore, and am a staunch advocate for arts curriculum that is integrated alongside other subjects and believe that it is an irreplaceable part of the high-quality public education that we must offer to every student in the state. I would express this stance in the budget process by working side by side with advocates like Maryland Citizens for the Arts to make sure that budgets include provisions for necessary programs in the arts and their growth in the future.

4. The Maryland State Board of Election has adopted the goal that 100 percent of Maryland’s students will participate in fine arts programs as part of a world class, well-rounded education. [State regulation: COMAR 13A.04.16.01] What will you do to ensure equitable access to consistent education in all five arts subjects (dance, media arts, music, theater, and visual arts) taught by qualified professionals in all Maryland Public Schools?

Again, we must show our commitment to arts education by prioritizing it in budget processes so that all necessary programs can be delivered in schools. But the capacity of our schools to deliver these programs is so often determined by the quality and availability of the teachers and specialists they can hire, and we must make sure that our schools are able to pay a fair and competitive wage and provide the benefits that will keep educators working with our schools for significant periods of time. As with our educators in other subjects, we must help them to stay in the classroom by compensating them correctly. My wife, who is still a public school teacher, and I, have seen too many of our educator friends leave the classroom to enter administration or move on to other careers, not because they don’t want to be teachers anymore, but simply because they need to support growing families and a teacher’s salary just won’t cut it. This should not be the reason that teachers leave the classroom or programs can’t be delivered, and as governor, I will commit to fully funding arts education programs and the teachers that deliver them.

5. In your opinion, what is the role of public art in improving community health?

Art in all its forms is always a tool for improving individual lives and transforming communities. Whether it’s a performance that perfectly catches the feeling of a community following a tragic event, a new mural that brightens a street corner, or an exhibition that exposes kids to new ways of thinking, artistic expression is not just something that benefits one individual, but that can have ripple effects that spread far and wide. It is also something that must be fostered and nurtured, and our leaders and public officials should always be looking for ways to work with local artists and advocates to increase the capacity for artistic expression in communities.

6. As governor of Maryland, what will your commitment be to independent artists and small independent arts businesses?

I have been a staunch advocate, along with my running mate Julie Verratti, for support of Maryland’s small businesses. Julie is a small business owner herself, having founded Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring, and together, we know that the backbone of our local and regional economy is small businesses, including sole proprietors and small independent businesses, including artists. The arts community is one that collaborates with many other sectors of our economy, often working side-by-side with other businesses to improve and expand their spaces, and so must be seen as an essential part of any local economy. As governor, I would continue to be a champion for our small businesses and their growth.

Mr. Jim Shea

1. Please briefly state your Gubernatorial platform statement.

I am running for Governor, along with my running mate Brandon Scott, to invest in Maryland and its future. That starts with fully funding public education in our state, including education in the arts. Investing in Maryland’s future also includes developing and implementing a statewide transportation plan that reduces congestion and gets people to work quickly and reliable. I will work to grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out to broaden opportunity. And, I will collaborate more closely with local jurisdictions to end the violence on our streets and restore community trust in law enforcement. Throughout my career, I have led large public and private organizations, including the University System of Maryland, the Empowerment Zones, the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, and my law firm, Venable. In each of these positions, I accomplished tangible results and made progress. I want to do the same for our state.

2. What role has the arts played in your life?

Art has always played a significant role in my life, from my art education in Baltimore County’s public schools when I was a student through my professional life. That is why I wanted to do my part in promoting the arts and art education in Baltimore. I am a proud Trustee of the Hippodrome Foundation because I believe that introducing the arts to children, particularly children from disadvantaged backgrounds, can be a life-changing experience.

3. What is your position on state funding for the arts and how, if elected Governor, would you express your stance within the state budget process?

I believe that the state of Maryland must play a large role in funding the arts. In my budgets each year, I will work with the arts community to identify priorities and work to ensure they are addressed in my budget.

4. The Maryland State Board of Election has adopted the goal that 100 percent of Maryland’s students will participate in fine arts programs as part of a world class, well-rounded education. [State regulation: COMAR 13A.04.16.01] What will you do to ensure equitable access to consistent education in all five arts subjects (dance, media arts, music, theater, and visual arts) taught by qualified professionals in all Maryland Public Schools?

As Governor, fully funding our public education system will be my top priority, and that includes funding arts education. In order to ensure equitable access to consistent education in all five arts subjects, we must focus on fully funding our schools, including constructing a funding formula that properly accounts for concentrated areas of poverty, and attracting, retaining, and grooming qualified educators in each subject area. Both of these priorities are stressed in my comprehensive education plan, which I released last year. If we do this properly, we will be able to give every Maryland student access to all five arts subjects taught by qualified professionals.

5. In your opinion, what is the role of public art in improving community health?

I believe that public art plays a very large role in improving community health, and studies back me up. Public art engages community members, including in the creation of the art itself. Murals are often desired in neighborhoods to stabilize them and give residents a sense of community, purpose, and ownership. Further, art itself can improve people’s health by reducing stress and, in medical facilities, lower levels of pain and faster healing. Public art can play an important role in a community, and I will work with local jurisdictions to promote it whenever possible.

6. As governor of Maryland, what will your commitment be to independent artists and small independent arts businesses?

Just like other small businesses, independent artists and small arts businesses must be supported. A significant part of my plan to grow the Maryland economy from the middle out focuses on supporting small businesses by providing more access to capital, encouraging the collaboration between small businesses and industry leaders, and eliminating unnecessary regulations that prevent businesses from growing.

When specifically addressing challenges facing independent artists and businesses, I will work to ensure that Maryland’s artists have access to safe and affordable work spaces. Many artists are worried that the older buildings they use for studios are not up to code. Further, they worry that studios will be turned into condos. I will work with local jurisdictions and the arts community to ensure that independent artists are able to put down roots in safe and affordable studios.

Ms. Krish O'Mara Vignarajah

1. Please briefly state your Gubernatorial platform statement.

I’m running because I’m worried my baby girl and all of our children will not have the same opportunities I had growing up in Maryland. My family escaped a country on the brink of civil war when I was 9 months and I moved to Maryland. We had very little in the sense that my parents came to this country w/ no jobs and about $200 in their pockets, but I was blessed to grow up in Maryland, at a time when we led the nation in job creation, school performance, and pioneered in many ways the environmental conversation.

Today, a lot of that has changed. Larry Hogan has refused to speak out not just against Donald Trump but also about what’s happening in Maryland. Our economy is flatlining as wages stagnate, even while neighboring states to the north and south prosper. Many of our schools are failing and remain woefully underfunded as Hogan focuses on the priorities of the rich and our precious Chesapeake Bay finds itself in the worst condition in history. That’s why my campaign will focus on a new generation of ideas/policies to revitalize our economy for everyone, deliver an exceptional education to all our children, and make Maryland’s environment the pride and joy for generations to come. My campaign is focused on smart policies to grow Maryland’s economy, strengthen our educational system, and protect our environment and natural resources. For example, one set of issues I’ve been focused on is championing policies that help Maryland families succeed – everything from paid family leave to affordable healthcare & childcare to early childhood education. Take paid family leave; US is the only developed nation in the world that does not guarantee working mothers and fathers paid family leave. Three states (California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island) have passed and NY has a policy that will go into effect in 2018; Maryland should be leading the way and under Larry Hogan, it’s not.

As the only candidate for governor who is a product of Maryland public schools from K-12, the daughter of two public school educators, and a mother, improving our public schools is my absolute top priority. I remember my father using his own salary to pay for classroom supplies that the school could not provide, and I can still recall trailers that doubled as classrooms at my high school. Despite the evident lack of funding, the education I received through Maryland public schools provided me with the skills I needed to succeed beyond graduation. I believe every Maryland child has the fundamental right to a quality education and the opportunities it unlocks. That is why I am committed to educational excellence for every Maryland student, regardless of their county or zip code.

Expanding 21st Century STEAM Education in Maryland In a world where technology is always advancing and new career pathways often have a technology focus, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) education is increasingly important. We must properly invest in and support rigorous STEAM curricula in our K-12 public schools, to spark our students’ interests early. Computer literacy, math, and science now rival basic competencies like reading comprehension and writing as the key indicators of a student’s college and career readiness. Our children cannot fall behind. Making these opportunities available for all students, and reducing the gender and racial disparities in STEAM programs, will go far in giving every Maryland student the necessary skills they need to be successful.

Ensuring Free Community College & Job Training As Maryland high schoolers prepare for college and career, the cost of further school is too often a major obstacle. Nearly half of all Maryland high school students enroll in a two-year institution of some kind, whether that is community college or a career and technical certificate program. We should not leave our high school graduates stranded as they make the leap. And we especially should make sure that our current and future college students don’t leave college with enormous, unbearable amounts of debt. As such, I propose to make all community college and career/technical programs in the state as affordable as possible by guaranteeing all two-year graduates leave debt-free.

2. What role has the arts played in your life?

Arts played the pivotal role in my life of teaching me the importance of hands on learning rather than academic study alone. I believe the arts fosters creativity, confidence, and out of the box thinking in ways that are unparalleled.

3. What is your position on state funding for the arts and how, if elected Governor, would you express your stance within the state budget process?

Strongly support robust funding for the arts.

4. The Maryland State Board of Election has adopted the goal that 100 percent of Maryland’s students will participate in fine arts programs as part of a world class, well-rounded education. [State regulation: COMAR 13A.04.16.01] What will you do to ensure equitable access to consistent education in all five arts subjects (dance, media arts, music, theater, and visual arts) taught by qualified professionals in all Maryland Public Schools?

Candidate did not respond to this question.

5. In your opinion, what is the role of public art in improving community health?

Public art is an incredibly important piece of improving community health and must be the centerpiece of strengthening our communities.

6. As governor of Maryland, what will your commitment be to independent artists and small independent arts businesses?

As governor, I will strongly support independent artists and their businesses because talented activists are exactly the kind of artists Maryland should support.