Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

October 1st Blog Forum Questions

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, September 15, 2006

BLOG FORUM QUESTIONS.  Printable Version 

These are the questions that Hayduke, Howard County Blog, The Hedgehog Report, and I agreed to present to our candidates.  It took a lot of discussion to narrow this down and in some cases rewrite the questions in order to eliminate any perceived bias in the questions.

If you have any comments please share them.

Each of us will take a different tack on how we post responses to the questions and hope that it sparks lively discussions among voters, bloggers and especially candidates.

Yesterday we sent these out to candidates for the County Executive, General Assmbly, County Council and Board of Education.  I have only heard from a handful of the candidates to date:

  • Tony Salazar – CC 
  • Roger Lerner – BOE
  • Donna Thewes – CC
  • Allen Dyer – BOE
  • Ken Ulman – CE
  • Chris Merdon – CE
  • Sandy French – BOE
  • Mary Beth Tung – GA
  • Joshua Kaufman – BOE
  • Liz Bobo – GA

I had trouble with Frank Turn’s and Liz Bobo’s email addresses and asked the Guzzone Campaign to forward them on.

Some of us were going to wait to post these and others are posting them later.  I decided that it would be better to post them early so that everyone who is interested can see them now, and it is another place that candidates can come and see the questions.

County Council and County Exec Candidates

1) Name one parcel of land in your district that you think is an example of poorly designed development and explain what is wrong with it and what changes you would have required to approve it if you had been on the Zoning Board when it was approved? (County Exec candidates should answer for the County Council district they live in.)

2) What do you think the county’s rural preservation program should try to achieve?

3) Why are you a member of the political party that you are a member of?

4) Do you support your party’s nominee for governor?  If so, why?  If not, why not?

5) Explain how you got to know your biggest political contributor?  How often do you communicate with your biggest political contributor?  (Remember we can search your financial reports and it looks worse to lie and get catch.  If you want to be on the safe side you can answer for each of your biggest contributors.)  

6) Do you support the county council’s decision to pass the comp-lite legislation?  Why or why not?  If you were a member of the county council that passed comp-lit legislation please explain your vote.  Do you support the comp-lite referendum?  Why or why not?

7) Do you support an end to the surcharge of $1.00 per square foot on new construction that has been created to fund school construction?  Why or why not?

8) Do you support cutting any residential taxes (property or income)? If so, which and how would you pay for it. If not, why?

9) Do you believe that the county should build a new government complex?  Why or Why not?  How would you fund such a project?

10) Do you think County Council members should personally intervene in zoning cases in order to influence their outcome?

11) Would you pass legislation implementing the county charter amendment that passed in 2004 that allowed the county council to establish a procedure to hold special elections in conjunction with the Presidential year elections to fill vacancies on the County Council that occur in the two years between the County Council elections and the elections in the Presidential year?

12) Do you have any proposal in mind that would provide adequate housing for low income people in the county?  If so, what is it?

13) Do you support tax money going to pay for the busing of kids to non-public schools?

14) Do you favor using zoning regulations to try to restrict or curtail freedom of expression for establishments some people allege are indecent or should be X-rated?

15) Do you support moving the Savage Library?

16) Would you pass a law guaranteeing that all land that is counted towards open space requirements be open civic space accessible for all Howard County residents to use for voter registration, communication, and political assembly?

State Legislative Candidates

1) What are your positions on particular items regarding Election Day reforms for the state of Maryland?  Specifically, please address the issues of early voting, voter identification at the polls using photo ID or documentation, and a voter verified paper trail for all votes cast.

2) Would you support or oppose a bill that would alter the current rate plan to allow citizens to “opt out” of the rate plan recently passed by the General Assembly and allow them to pay the full cost of the increase in energy costs each month to avoid paying interest charges?

3) Why are you a member of the political party that you are a member of?

4) Beyond funds for children with special needs whose education cannot be adequately provided for in our public schools, do you favor public funding of non-public schools in any way?  If so, in what way?

5) Do you favor additional restrictions on or loosening restrictions on the right of a woman to choose abortion?

6) Now that emergency contraceptives are available to adults, would you favor making them also available to minors?  If not, would you prefer that minor females who become pregnant be (a) required to give birth or (b) permitted to choose abortion on their own?

7) Do you favor a statewide smoking ban in restaurants, bars and places of employment?

8) What is your opinion on laws regarding handguns and assault weapons bans?

9) Do you favor relaxing handgun laws in the state of Maryland?  Please explain your answer.

10) Do you favor some degree of public funding of statewide and legislative campaigns in Maryland?  If so, please explain.

11) As a way to make campaign contributions more transparent, would you favor requiring that contributions by associated entities or subsidiaries of controlling entities be listed as coming from the controlling entities?

12) Currently, there is a scholarship program unique to Maryland under which state senators (especially) and delegates get to provide scholarships in their name to prospective students.  Would you support ending this program and turning the associated funds over to a state unit for dispersal according to non-political or non-partisan standards?  If not, how would you handle the public funds you would be allowed to dispense under this program?

13) Would you pass legislation to establish a procedure to hold special elections in conjunction with the Presidential year elections to fill legislative vacancies that occur in the two years between legislative elections and the elections in the Presidential year?

14) Do favor some additional regulation of publicly-necessary utilities (such as the ones that provide electricity) so as to prevent de facto monopoly situations that can lead to unaffordable high rates for some users?  Why or why not?  Would you support some form of publicly-owned and operated utilities?

15) Do you support slots in Maryland?  Why or why not?  If you support slots in Maryland where would you locate them?

16) Do you support an end to the surcharge of 1.00 per square foot on new construction that has been created by the Howard County State Delegation as an alternative to an increase to the County Transfer Tax to fund school construction?  Why or why not?

School Board Candidates

1) Are standardized tests an adequate measure of student performance on the most important skills students should develop in school?  If so, how so?  If not, why not?

2) What is a school system policy that needs changing?  How would you change it?

3) Rank order in value of importance what you want a student to have when they leave the school system (1 being the highest importance and 8 being the lowest.  If an item is one the school system should not provide give it a zero.):
a) ability to recall facts they were taught
b) have an appreciation for the great books and thinkers throughout history
c) communication skills
d) research skills
e) respect for authority
f) critical thinking skills
g) an understanding that actions have consequences
h) ability to assess the credibility of sources of information

4) Rank order which of the following most effectively promotes learning (1 being the highest importance and 10 being the lowest.  If an item doesn’t promote learning give it a zero.):
a) field trips
b) music instruction
c) a dress code
d) clubs and non-athletic after-school  extracurriculars 
e) sports
f) foreign language trips overseas
g) mentorship/internship opportunities in potential fields of employment
h) practice standardized tests
i) student presentations
j) assigned seats

5) Which of the following should be allowed on school grounds?  (selected as many or a few as you want)
a) prayer meetings
b) handing out of condoms
c) a gay/lesbian/bisexual student group
d) low riding jeans
e) girls tops with spaghetti string shoulder straps
f) student run civic or political club
g) teaching of evolution
h) distribution of non-school or non-governmental literature (i.e. literature from the Boy
      Scouts, church groups, etc.)

6) Do you support or oppose including the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance (including the phrase “under God”) as part of the official school day?

7) What is the scientific method?

8) Excluding the current president who were America’s five best presidents and who were America’s five worst presidents?  For each give up to five bullet point reasons why.

9) What five books or thinkers most influenced your thinking?  How did they do so?

10) What five movies best encompass the American experience and how would you use them to teach a course on American history?

11) What book on the approved reading list of the school system is one you would enjoy teaching?  Develop three topics for papers related to the book you would assign to assess students critical thinking skills.

12) Do you support an end to the surcharge of $1.00 per square foot on new construction that has been created by the Howard County State Delegation as an alternative to an increase to the County Transfer Tax to fund school construction?  Why or why not?

13) How do you think the school board should address technology purchases/upgrades to avoid problems such as what occurred with the Student Management System software?

14) Do you support attempts in the 2006 General Assembly to reform eminent domain?  Why or Why not?

15) Do you support state takeovers of schools if the state feels a school is failing?  Why or why not? 


4 Responses to “October 1st Blog Forum Questions”

  1. Michael Thewes said

    Donna is District 3.



  2. Freemarket said

    This looks like a great list of questions, many thanks to all of the bloggers involved for taking the time to put this list together. I hope there will be 100% participation among candidates. I personally can’t wait until October 1st…

  3. Freemarket said

    Does it look like there will be good candidate participation on this?

  4. hocomd said

    Hard to say. I think some are procrastinating. Remains to be seen.

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