Tom Perez

Democrat

Tom Perez illustration

(John Baker for The Baltimore Banner)

(John Baker for The Baltimore Banner)

  • Age: 60
  • Resides: Takoma Park
  • Experience: Attorney and politician. Bachelor’s in political science and international relations from Brown University, law degree and master’s degree in public policy from Harvard. Member of Montgomery County Council, 2002-2006. Maryland secretary of labor, 2007-2009. Assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights, 2009-2013. U.S. secretary of labor, 2013-2017. Chair of Democratic National Committee, 2017-2021. 
  • Personal: Married to Ann Marie Staudenmaier with three children 
  • Candidate website
  • Read The Baltimore Banner's profile of Tom Perez
  • Read more election coverage

Running mate:

Shannon Sneed

  • Age: 41
  • Resides: Baltimore
  • Experience: Journalist, educator and politician. Bachelor’s in English from University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. Master’s in communications from Morgan State University. Television news writer, editor and producer at WMDT, WBFF and WJZ, 2002-2011. Professor of public speaking, Coppin State University, 2012. Senior communications specialist, Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, 2013-2015. Baltimore City Councilmember, 2016-2020. Regional director for Baltimore for Sen. Chris Van Hollen, 2020-2022.
  • Personal: Married with one daughter

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.

I strongly support the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. I look forward to implementing lasting, effective change to improve equity and opportunity for Maryland’s students and educators. As governor, we will fully fund our education system, continue to expand early childhood education, ensure schools with concentrations of poverty receive additional state investment, and pay our educators what they deserve. I will also focus on serving as a thought leader and partner to ensure the new Implementation Board can effectively work with MSDE to ensure the long-term success of the Blueprint.

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

Yes.

As a public school parent, my wife and I were actively involved in our children’s education. As someone who served in local government, I appreciate the difficult work boards of education do and believe in preserving local control for local governments, school systems, and school boards. That’s why I opposed the efforts of the Hogan-Franchot mandate forcing all public schools to begin after Labor Day. Each jurisdiction should determine what is in the best interest of its students. On curricula, the Maryland State Board of Education provides critical guidance on curricular design.    

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.

One of the basic tenets of public education is teaching about truths and adhering to science. For instance, it is a fact that a moral Achilles’ heel of our nation has been our mistreatment of African Americans and communities of color. Our administration will empower local jurisdictions to provide thoughtful, compassionate and accurate curricula to support lifelong growth for students across our state. And we must expand state efforts to recruit teachers that reflect the diversity of our students by partnering with HBCUs to build a stronger pipeline for a more diverse educator population.

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

Yes.

The governor must be an ally with Baltimore, not an adversary. As a federal prosecutor, I know how to build partnerships to reduce violence. As President Obama's head of civil rights at the DOJ, I’ve led police reform. As governor, I’ll work closely with Mayor Scott and others to get illegal guns off our streets, support Safe Streets and other programs to interrupt violence, and invest in parole and probation officers to help them address those committing a major portion of violence. We will work upstream, investing in education, transportation, employment, housing, mental health, and more.

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

Yes.

As the former assistant attorney general for civil rights, I worked closely with police departments to rebuild trust between officers and the communities, and make critical investments to ensure effective, accountable policing. As governor, I will do the same. Maryland must use data-driven tactics to effectively reduce crime. As governor, I will provide increased staffing and resources for parole or probation officers, invest in data collection and analysis of  gun seizures and trafficking routes, expand support for community-based violence interruption, and increase upstream investments.

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

Yes.

As a former federal prosecutor, it is important to be smart on crime. The primary focus must be on prosecuting the most serious crimes. I know that each case must be evaluated on its own merits. Rather than a blanket policy, decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis, based on what will make our communities most safe. We must make combating racial injustice a priority and following the anticipated passage of recreational cannabis, we will lead overdue criminal justice reform to expunge and provide automatic record removal for individuals convicted of nonviolent cannabis-related charges.

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

Yes.

Public safety is a fundamental responsibility and must be a top priority for the next governor. While Maryland has taken action to enact some of the strongest gun laws in the nation, we have more to do — including supporting renewed federal efforts. As governor, I will strengthen Maryland’s handgun purchaser licensing law, enhance concealed carry safety training requirements, ensure that the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 is fully implemented, increase data sharing, establish standards for proactive gun law enforcement of illegal gun possession laws, and fully implement Maryland's ghost gun ban. 

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

No.

We must address persistent racial disparities in the criminal justice system and I’ll build upon the steps Democrats in the general assembly have already taken. Following the anticipated passage of recreational cannabis, we must reinvest that tax revenue back into the communities most adversely affected by decades of criminalization. We must ensure that law enforcement officers are trained in  effective, constitutional policing, that judges are trained in addressing potential subconscious bias, and should carefully study how prosecutorial and police discretion is being exercised every day.

Would you invest more state resources in Baltimore?

Yes.

As goes Baltimore so goes Maryland. Our next governor has an unequivocal obligation to expand access to resources in Baltimore and throughout the region, such as overdue investments in State Center and a new courthouse. As governor, I will prioritize efforts to jumpstart the Red Line and increase bus infrastructure to finally allow easy transit between historically disadvantaged East and West Baltimore. We will grow the wealth of Baltimore families through homeownership assistance, growing minority-owned banks, and providing capital to the small businesses that will fuel Baltimore’s future.

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

Yes.

What taxes should change?

We need to pursue multiple solutions. As state Labor Secretary, I helped lead the effort to bring slots to Maryland, because I recognized the need to expand funding sources for critical services. As governor, I will ensure newly established sports gambling is effectively implemented. An additional critical source of revenue comes from job creation and I believe we have tremendous opportunities to grow our state’s economy. Meanwhile, we will close corporate loopholes that create unlevel playing fields for businesses, like the combined reporting loophole. If Texas can do it, Maryland can too. 

How would you spend additional revenue?

Budgets are moral documents and as governor I will ensure we prioritize efforts to fully fund the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future to support students and educators to ensure ZIP code never determines destiny, make long overdue investments in our state’s mental health infrastructure, and make strategic investments in “talent-driven economic development” in industries critical to Maryland's economic future, like offshore wind and the Port of Baltimore.

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

Yes.

Safe, stable, affordable housing is a fundamental building block for economic opportunity and mobility. As governor, I will fully fund Maryland’s affordable housing program, Rental Housing Works, focus on keeping individuals in their homes by expanding rental assistance and eviction diversion programs, and vigorously enforce the HOME Act to prohibit discrimination against housing voucher holders. We must also identify parcels of state-owned land that can be converted to affordable housing and utilize community benefit agreements to include affordable housing in transit-oriented development. 

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

As governor, my decisions will be governed by the best available information at hand. I will follow the science and listen to all stakeholders in crafting solutions that strike the proper balance. 

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

Yes.

As governor, I will help ensure that everyone can access to safe and affordable reproductive health care by integrating reproductive services into primary care, increasing the number of trained abortion providers, and providing equitable access for coverage. We will make sure Maryland passes a constitutional amendment to further enshrine the fundamental right to abortion into the fabric of our laws and we will work with our next attorney general to ensure Maryland defends any provider sued by other states for providing care to all whom come to Maryland to seek access.

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

Yes.

Yes. Climate change is an existential threat facing our planet and placing our future at risk. We may be the first generation to fully appreciate the dangers of this crisis — and the last to be able to do something about it. While climate issues are multidepartmental and multidisciplinary, our state’s response has been siloed. As governor, I’ll create a statewide climate and resilience coordinator who will oversee a multiagency, multidisciplinary approach. 

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.

As governor, I am committed to fully implementing the Climate Solutions Now Act passed this session to ensure we meet the carbon emissions reduction goals to net-zero by 2045 — while hitting other critical targets for Maryland’s highest emitting sectors: transportation, buildings, and energy. We will also embrace President Biden’s national commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. Part of our transition to renewable energy must mean that state government is leading by example to invest in environmentally friendly schools, libraries, hospitals and other state facilities. 

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

I am committed to ensuring that our state’s jobs are green and growing, and that we seek climate justice for all Marylanders. We will do this by transforming Maryland into a national leader on clean energy, including by leading the nation’s largest development of offshore wind infrastructure by manufacturing, installing, and maintaining offshore wind turbines and their components at Sparrows Point and throughout Maryland. We must continue to drive innovation to support additional clean energy alternatives of the future — including those not yet developed.

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

Yes.

My career has been dedicated to jobs and justice, and that includes environmental justice. I made environmental justice a priority when I served on the Montgomery County Council’s transportation and environment committee, when I taught at the University of Maryland Law School Clinic and focused on the epidemic of lead paint, and when I took on tough environmental justice cases as the head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. As governor, I will support efforts like the removal of trash incineration and other dirty technologies from Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. 

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

Yes.

With legalization of recreational cannabis Maryland will be able to truly regulate the industry, create good jobs, help small businesses, and generate significant revenue. Our administration will  work to address social equity and racial injustices by expunging and providing automatic record removal for individuals convicted of nonviolent cannabis-related charges. We will also ensure that tax revenue is reinvested in communities disproportionately affected through targeted investments in HBCUs and immigrant-serving nonprofits, mental health resources, job training and entrepreneurial support.

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

Yes.

Reviving the Red Line is a transportation imperative, an economic imperative, and a racial justice imperative. As governor,  I will lead the charge to jumpstart this long overdue project by leveraging my relationships with the Biden administration to fight for federal resources, developing an updated environmental impact statement, and working with city and county leaders to connect residents to economic opportunities. Meanwhile, we will plan for additional rapid transit connecting east and west Baltimore Metro with frequent and reliable bus service. 

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?

Yes.

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

Yes.

We need a balanced system that prioritizes investments in public transit, walking and biking infrastructure — while ensuring competent, effective governance. We cannot pave our way out of gridlock. Our administration will make public transit more dependable, accessible and affordable through efforts like reviving the Red Line,  finishing the Purple Line, building Southern Maryland Rapid Transit, spearheading the long-overdue creation of a regional transportation authority, expanding bike lanes, and increasing MARC ridership by making the system more interoperable and expanded service. 

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.

We can’t simply pave our way out of gridlock. I don’t oppose all P3 projects; I oppose bad ones. Maryland needs a balanced approach to transportation that leverages investments in mass transit, and every option to get people out of their cars — not the Hogan-Franchot plan to widen the beltway and privatize toll lanes. As governor, I would work to widen I-270 from Clarksburg to Frederick, replace the American Legion Bridge — and ensure that it is built to accommodate potential future rail — while exploring thoughtful alternatives, such as reversible lanes, to alleviate traffic congestion.

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

No.

There are other projects that are a higher priority than maglev. My administration will be focused on advancing current transportation projects, such as the Red Line, Purple Line, MARC, and Southern Maryland Rapid Transit, that expand public transportation and ease congestion while ensuring transportation equity. The proposed maglev project speeds through many communities but does not provide benefits to these communities.   

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

Yes.

Investing in our election system is a direct investment in our democracy. As head of the Justice Department's civil rights division under President Obama, I helped lead efforts to protect the sacred right to vote. There is a relentless campaign underway by foreign and domestic actors to make it harder for people to vote and to attack our election systems. As Governor, I will protect voting rights by fully funding our election process, take the necessary measures to protect the security of our voting systems, and make it as easy as possible for eligible people to vote.

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

Yes.

As governor, I would proudly sign legislation to allow the early canvassing of ballots — in contrast to Gov. Hogan’s shortsighted veto earlier this year — so that we can reform the state’s current policy so that ballot envelopes can be processed on Election Day. I would also extend the period of in-person early voting. When we provide more options to eligible voters, we increase turnout. 

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

Yes.

As governor, I will make Maryland a leader in providing economic opportunities for business owners by reforming our antiquated MBE program. The Governor’s Office has failed to update Maryland’s MBE goals since 2013 — we must do better. A Perez-Sneed administration will increase the state’s MBE goals to bring our goals in line with the state’s demographics, ensure that the state implements the state’s MBE program in a timely manner, invests in technical assistance for MBEs in submitting competitive and successful bids and proposals for procurement contracts, and more.

Tom Perez

Tom Perez. (Kaitlin Newman for The Baltimore Banner)

Tom Perez. (Kaitlin Newman for The Baltimore Banner)