Name: Ken Kerr
Political party: Democratic
Where you live: Frederick (Eastview)
Current occupation and employers (may also list up to two previous jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: professor emeritus, Frederick Community College
Political experience (public offices held and when; as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years; do not include political party positions): Former Frederick County Board of Education member, 2016-2018. Current Maryland state delegate for District 3B.
1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)
Serving in the state legislature is a full-time job with long hours and months away from home. It requires a genuine desire to improve people’s lives, make sure their concerns are heard in Annapolis and help constituents navigate state bureaucracy and are treated fairly in their dealings with government agencies and state law. As a retired college professor, and current delegate, I have the time, the knowledge, and the skills to fulfill the demands of office.
2 – What is the most important issue for Frederick County in this race? How would you address it? (100 words max)
Growth, and all of the related issues that surround it, is the most important issue facing Frederick County. These include traffic on U.S. 15 between Interstate 70 and Md. 26, preserving and protecting our agricultural heritage, residential development in areas with overcrowded schools, affordable housing, and maintaining an overall high quality of life. I advocated for increased transit options as an alternative for I-270 commutes. I supported the Maryland Regional Rail Transformation Act and the override of the governor’s veto. This law seeks to improve service, including new midday, weekend, evening, and bidirectional service, on the Brunswick line.
3 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)
Teaching college students to write using social problems as the basis for their research for 25 years gave me a broad understanding of the issues that concern citizens. Helping students to verify the validity of their arguments and the data they used support them helped me to better understand the pressing issues of our time and our area. Having the ability to approach a problem with an open mind and be willing to have my mind changed when faced with overwhelming evidence that refutes my original position has prepared me to be a thoughtful, open-minded legislator.
4 – What is one major issue the current House of Delegates has handled poorly and what would have done differently? (100 words max)
Adult use recreational cannabis could have been handled better. I would have incorporated recreational cannabis into the medical cannabis regulatory structure rather than creating a new agency. I would also have included protections for medical cannabis. Without any incentive to continue growing medical strains, cultivators will grow what is most attractive to recreational users. Those who legitimately use cannabis for a variety of medical issues will not have what they have come to depend on for symptom relief.
5 – What is the most pressing health care issue in the state? How would you address it? (100 words max)
Mental health is the health care issue which most concerns me. In my first term on the Health and Government Operations Committee, we addressed much of this issue thought interstate compacts, telehealth, out-of-network coverage, establishing a psych bed registry, and making sure mental health was a covered benefit. What remains to be done is to increase the number of providers and increasing the number of people wanting to enter the profession. We can do that at the state level through tuition assistance programs and aid to higher education to expand their programs.
6 – What is the most pressing public safety issue in the state? How would you address it? (100 words max)
Climate change is the most pressing public safety issue facing the state. We have seen increasingly intense weather events and flooding damaging property and threatening lives. Rising seas have caused increased nuisance tidal flooding in areas such as Annapolis. The intrusion saltwater into coastal forest and agricultural land has killed off trees and destroyed agricultural areas. Climate change will not affect everyone in Maryland equally. We are seeing increased methane release from melting permafrost and the appearance of viruses and diseases that have laid dormant for centuries. Reservoirs are drying up. Growing seasons are changing.
7 – How well is the state is addressing climate change? What would you do differently? (100 words max)
The Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, vetoed by the governor and overridden by the legislature, is arguably the most ambitious of any such law enacted by any state. It calls for Maryland to reduce greenhouse gases by 60% by 2031 and for net-zero emissions by 2045. The act also includes environmental justice, worker transition, state procurement, nuclear power, biofuels, and changes to schools and school buses. It also includes a transition from fossil fuels to 100% electricity for heating and water heating in new and, eventually, existing buildings. I supported both the bill and the override.
8 – Do you support widening interstates 270 and 495 and adding tolls? Why or why not? (100 words max)
Before I would support any widening or tolls, I would insist that Interstate 270 between Frederick and Clarksburg get its third “free” lane. Additionally, I do not think the toll road will be a financial success. The $11 billion price tag would require tolls so costly that few people could afford to use them, leading to a default on the loan and making Maryland responsible for the balance of the loan. I oppose a foreign business controlling Maryland’s infrastructure. I prefer dedicated bus lanes between Frederick and Shady Grove Metro and all-day, two-way MARC service between Frederick and D.C.