Ashwani Jain

Democrat

Illustration of Ashwani Jain

(John Baker for The Baltimore Banner)

(John Baker for The Baltimore Banner)

  • Age: 32  
  • Resides: Montgomery County
  • Experience: Activist and government worker. Childhood cancer survivor. Obama for America campaign staff, including regional field director, 2007-2012. Obama White House staff, 2014-2016. Associate director of external affairs at US Department of Health and Human Services, 2016-2017. Leadership positions at Make-a-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic, 2016-present, and the National Kidney Foundation, 2019-present. Unsuccessful bid for Democratic nomination to Montgomery County Council at-large, 2018. Has never held public office. Program director for the National Kidney Foundation. 
  • Personal: Unmarried
  • Candidate website
  • Read The Baltimore Banner's profile of Ashwani Jain
  • Read more election coverage

Running mate:

LaTrece Hawkins Lytes

  • Age: 45
  • Resides: Landover
  • Experience: Former medical consultant and community organizer. Multiple awards for volunteer work and education pursuant to diabetes. Involved in many activities with her church. Has never held public office. 
  • Personal: Married with four children

Questionnaire:

Jump to key issues:

Do you support the financial and policy requirements of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (Also known as the Kirwan recommendations)?

Yes.

My education agenda includes fully funding the Blueprint; ensuring parents, students and educators have a real seat at the table; expanding access to broadband; easing student debt; reducing barriers to becoming an educator; protecting collective bargaining rights; making community colleges accessible; universal pre-K; removing SROs [school resource officers] from public schools; and opposing school privatization efforts (Full details)

Do you believe that parents have adequate input into public school curriculum choices?

No.

I have already included and engaged parents, students and educators in the decision-making process. The biggest commitment I can make is not waiting until after the election or budget process to include these stakeholders in the process. Furthermore — unlike other candidates, I’m fully accessible because 100% of our events are free; and I’m fully accountable because 100% of our campaign is run by residents and community leaders from every age, background and county.

Are you satisfied with the ways Maryland schools teach the history of Indigenous, Black, Latino, Asian or other communities of color and systemic racism?

No.

In the same way students need to learn about the Holocaust (to promote social justice and understand how to move past systemic hate), students must also learn about the history and prevalence of racism that still impacts our society today (especially with the recent increase in violence against Asians and communities of color). Hiding the truth does nothing to protect our freedom and liberty. 

Does the governor have a role in reducing the level of violence and crime in our communities?

Yes.

The way to increase accountability and safety is to tackle criminal justice comprehensively. That’s why my plans include treating opioid/drug abuse as a disease, not crime; removing SROs from public schools; investing in social workers; ending the money bail system; ending extreme sentences for children; legalizing marijuana and expunging records; access to jobs; and building community trust. (Full details)

Do you support efforts to reform or restructure the ways policing is funded?

Yes.

We should reallocate public safety funding to expand necessary services that would reduce police officers’ needs to respond to incidents with a mentally ill individual or involving ongoing social work issues. This will involve growing our workforce of social workers and ensuring that those suffering from addiction have access to professionals that can support them in dealing with their substance abuse problem. This can help people having a mental health crisis get the help they need rather than put them in harm’s way.

Do you support efforts by state’s attorneys to reduce or eliminate prosecution of nonviolent or low-level offenses?

Yes.

Furthermore — unless individuals have violated state criminal laws or are under the authority of criminal warrants issued by the state or federal judges, I do not believe we should be working with ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] to detain/house nonviolent individuals who have been placed in ICE custody. Any requests made by ICE or the federal government should be directed, addressed and handled first by a state-run agency (the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services).

Would you propose changes to Maryland’s gun control laws?

Yes.

Part of the solution — in Maryland — is reforming our entire criminal justice system (meaning replacing SROs in public schools with school security personnel hired by school boards and more guidance counselors and social workers to get to the root causes of the issues we face); banning ghost guns; supporting red flag laws; AND closing the loophole to ensure all gun owners (even those with rifles/shotguns) get a permit. 

Do you think Maryland is doing enough to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system?

No.

My plans include treating opioid/drug abuse as a disease not crime; removing SROs from public schools; investing in social workers; ending the money bail system; ending extreme sentences for children; legalizing marijuana and expunging records; access to jobs; and building community trust. (Full details)

Would you invest more state resources in Baltimore?

Yes.

We must have equality of opportunity. Part of this means being held accountable and giving residents a real seat at the table. And part of this means increasing revenue streams by keeping people in our state and encouraging more to move here. My “Maryland Now Plan” will help with eliminating the state income tax, free public transit, guaranteed jobs and anti-corruption measures. 

Do you support changing state tax laws to require high-earning Marylanders and corporations to pay more?

Yes.

What taxes should change?

While we cannot solely rely on tax increases to strengthen our economic recovery, we need to ensure large companies are paying their fair share. This means requiring combined reporting (where companies combine profits from all related subsidiaries and are taxed as a unitary business). This means ensuring out-of-state corporations doing business in Maryland pay their fair share in taxes on goods shipped into our state. And this means taxing those companies making more than $100 million a year on revenues generated from their digital advertisements. 

How would you spend additional revenue?

My “Maryland Now Plan” will eliminate the state income tax for 95% of Maryland workers (anyone making less than $400,000); make public transit free; create the nation’s first guaranteed jobs program; legalize marijuana while expunging records; and get money out of politics. (Full details)

Are you concerned about the affordability of housing and home ownership in Maryland?

Yes.

My full housing plan details how we increase affordability (immediate relief so no one is being evicted; expanding the MPDU program; dedicated funding for nonprofits); availability (smart growth and mixed-use development; prohibiting discrimination based on source of income); and sustainability (improving forbearance notifications; increasing the eviction filing fees; requiring “just cause” protections; and the “Maryland Now Plan” to provide residents more disposable income, decreased cost of living and access to jobs). 

Which of the following public health restrictions would you consider imposing statewide in response to increased coronavirus cases, hospitalizations or deaths?

[Candidate’s response in bold]

  • Vaccine passports
  • Mask mandates
  • Capacity limits
  • None of the above

While we must mandate vaccines and masks to keep people safe and schools/businesses open, we must also understand that health crises are not unique to COVID. That is why we need to take bold steps to protect the lives and livelihoods of Marylanders. As we move past this crisis, we need a ready-to-use playbook on steps that need to be taken should this happen again, as well as ensuring we are looking to the future. This is why my approach of a Relief, Recovery, and Reform Agenda will play a key role in charting a better trajectory for our diverse state.

Would you propose changes to the ways Maryland limits, regulates or funds abortion?

Yes.

I was the first statewide candidate in Maryland to have a Reproductive Justice platform — which includes the need to (1) enshrine essential healthcare services (like abortion care, contraceptive coverage and gender affirmation treatment) in our state constitution; (2) require public schools to have comprehensive sex ed in health classes. Students must learn about everything from abstinence to contraceptives, to period poverty, to domestic violence, to LGBTQ inclusion, gender identity and reproductive rights; and (3) require all public schools to provide free menstrual products in bathrooms.

Do you agree with the scientific consensus that global climate change is influenced by human activities?

Yes.

To get to 100% renewables by 2035, I would focus on climate justice; stop subsidization of trash incinerators and paper mills; mandate environmental impact Studies; increase poultry farm inspections; invest in community solar programs for residents; offshore wind; free public transit; smart growth and mixed-use development; ban single-use plastic bags; and improve composting. We must get to 100% clean energy by 2035. To get there — as detailed in my full climate change policy memo shared since last January 2021.

Do you believe that Maryland residents and businesses have a responsibility to reduce their contributions to climate change, which could include greenhouse gas emissions, waste or energy use?

Yes.

I believe we need — and must — both increase our fossil fuel fees and regulate emissions. The issue of climate change must be addressed comprehensively and using every tool we have. That’s how we can achieve the ambitious goal of net-zero emissions by 2035. Time is running out.

Do you support additional energy production in Maryland?

Yes.

If so, which forms of energy production do you support?

[Candidate’s response in bold]

  • Wind
  • Offshore wind
  • Natural gas fracking
  • Solar
  • Nuclear
  • Other forms not listed here

In addition to wind and solar, we must further invest in hydropower and can learn from successes in Portland, Oregon where they utilize LucidPipes. The LucidPipe system was particularly cost-effective in Portland because it utilizes the existing infrastructure instead of replacing it. The lack of overhaul ensures that the construction does not damage the land, injure animals, or significantly impact the environment. As such, this is a commonsense step that I promise to take to build up our state’s clean energy stock while investing in more Maryland construction jobs.

Do you believe that climate change will disproportionately impact poor and minority communities?

Yes.

We must take deliberate steps to focus on climate justice. That’s why — since launching my campaign last January 2021 — I have been campaigning on halting any new fracking; and why I’m strongly in support of reforming the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities, as well as the Public Service Commission. We must ensure both of these commissions reflect the diversity (and therefore lived experiences) of our state; and ensure no members of the commissions worked for — or helped represent — the fossil fuel industry and non-renewable energy sources. 

Do you plan to vote IN FAVOR of the statewide ballot question to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana?

Yes.

I was the first statewide candidate in Maryland to — since January 2021 — advocate and campaign on fully legalizing marijuana and expunging records. Marijuana has proven to be significantly less dangerous than alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs/opioids. As such, I believe in legalizing it to generate significant revenue for our state, as well as to provide more racial justice in our criminal justice systems (since Black residents are arrested at higher rates and given harsher sentences than white residents for possession).

Do you support the Red Line east-west rail/subway project in Baltimore?

Yes.

One of our investment priorities should be the Metro, as many families rely on public transportation each day. They don’t live a walkable distance away from their jobs, or have difficulty getting to other essential services. We cannot cut these investments. You shouldn’t need to own a car (and be willing to drive an hour-plus in traffic every day) in order to provide for your family and pay your bills. In the Montgomery and Prince George’s County regions, we should prioritize investing in the Purple line, and in the Baltimore County region, the Red line. My plan can be read here.

What mode of transportation should be used for the project?

[Candidate’s response in bold]

  • Light rail
  • Buses
  • Mix of the two
  • Something else

Would transit vehicles have to share their lanes, rails or intersections with other drivers?

No.

Would you support changes to Maryland’s public transportation systems?

Yes.

My full plan goes into detail [about] my plans to making public transit FREE for every resident; ensuring environmental impact studies for all transportation projects; expanding Metro (Red and Purple lines, in addition to the Southern Maryland Rapid Transit Project); expanding MARC train services; expanding ride-sharing; more designated bus lanes; smart growth and mixed-use development; and sustainably expanding the Bay Bridge (using the findings of the environmental impact studies that were conducted). 

Which of the following public-private partnership projects would you complete?

[Candidate's response in bold]

  • Interstate 270
  • The American Legion Bridge
  • The Capital Beltway
  • None of the above

Would you use toll lanes to fund these projects?

No.

I am strongly opposed to plans to privatize, widen and create multidirectional toll lanes on I-270. They approved the contract with a selected developer prior to completing an environmental impact report — against promises made to us; this plan does not address the congestion that will remain; and it does not address how we’re going to pay for the relocation costs for almost 70 miles of water and sewer pipes or the residents that will be forced to move. 

Do you support the proposed high-speed maglev train between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.?

No.

I do not support the maglev project as it doesn’t address environmental costs; it is too expensive to use (would be around $60); and would not even stop in Prince George's County (even though its residents would endure years of construction). 

Do you believe that Maryland’s elections are generally accurate, fair and well run?

Yes.

The way we campaign often dictates how we will govern. That’s why I’m the only governor candidate to have 100% of my events free and accessible; why 100% of my campaign is volunteer-run (by residents from every age, background and all 24 counties); why I don’t take a penny from developers, businesses, PACs or polluters; and why I’m the only candidate to meet residents where they are by spending 90% of my time going door-to-door in a different county each day. Maryland residents have already had a seat at the table from day one of my operation and will continue to when I become Governor. 

Would you propose any changes to the laws governing how voters cast their ballots?

Yes.

From universal distribution of vote-by-mail ballots, to expanding early voting locations, to restoring voting rights of felons, to making Election Day a state holiday, we must protect and expand the right to vote, and I will do whatever is in my power as governor to ensure it. 

Should Maryland do more to ensure minority-owned businesses have a fair opportunity to secure state contracts or business?

Yes.

Coming from a small business background, I know the value they bring and challenges they face. That’s why my full plan details everything from expanding small business loans; increasing branch banking; having an equitable procurement process; expanding enterprise and opportunity zones; investing in workforce development programs; protecting collective bargaining rights; paid family/medical leave; and ensuring corporate-social responsibility.

Gubernatorial candidate Ashwani Jain speaks during a candidates forum on healthcare issues sponsored by the Maryland Democratic Party at BC Brewery on May 31, 2022.

Ashwani Jain. (Kaitlin Newman for The Baltimore Banner)

Ashwani Jain. (Kaitlin Newman for The Baltimore Banner)