As a teenager, I attended youth-mission trips organized by my church, where various faith-based youth groups gathered to share, inspire, and serve the community. We repaired homes for our neighbors in need – those on low- or fixed incomes, with disabilities, and the elderly. We built wheelchair ramps, replaced toilets, and patched holes in floors. After one of these trips, a member of my church sent a note of thanks and asked that we never forget the words of John Wesley, the founder of the United Methodist Church:

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.

This simple but fundamental sentence stuck with me and has become a guiding principle – to do all the good I can, everywhere, all the time. To make an impact on the world through activities big and small – and to help others do the same. To speak up in the face of injustice and be part of the solution.

It is this guiding principle that has driven my work in Maryland and at the federal level to inspire and empower the next generation with the tools to lift every family and person in our communities and the clarity around why we must do so with urgency to benefit the greater good.

Education Equity

We must do more to prioritize future generations in policymaking. For far too long, our kids have been forgotten. We’ve seen local school facilities with visible mold growth, flooding, restrooms without stall doors, rodent problems, lack of ventilation, and more. Classrooms are overcrowded, teachers are leaving our school system, and the bus driver shortage makes some students reliably late to class – sometimes by hours.

In the age of COVID-19, the urgency of these issues is greater than ever before. Every Prince George’s County child deserves a world-class education – healthy and safe school facilities with plenty of space for recreation, health resources for families in need, and teachers who are paid commensurate with the importance of their job. This begins with fully funding our historically under-resourced public schools.

Our state and local leaders must work to fully implement the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future in Prince George’s County and fund the Accountability and Implementation Board to ensure purposeful and uniform oversight. And we should continue to explore and use proven tools already at our disposal, like expanding the public-private partnership (P3) financing program that has allowed us to begin building 6 new middle schools in Prince George’s County, including Hyattsville Middle School and Kenmoor Middle School. And, as we finally work through the backlog of school construction needs, PGCPS needs a workable plan for swing space, so our kids aren’t subject to busing to communities an hour or more away.

It is also critical that we execute education policy and funding through an equity lens to build community-based school systems that provide meaningful support for students and families, connecting those in need with government and nonprofit support programs, helping students navigate mental health challenges, and funding innovative programs at the local level to provide direct supports where needed, like tutoring, aftercare, and mentorship.

Good Government

A truly effective and representative government demands more than skilled policymaking. It requires the kind of ethical public service that reflects our collective values and deepens our democracy. As a nation and often as a local community, we are more anxious, apprehensive, and divided than ever before. We have seen clearly how distrust of our leaders’ fuels divestment from public interest, negatively impacting our ability to prosper and reducing opportunity for everyone.

Patrick has been a champion for campaign finance reform and ethical public service. Our dysfunctional School Board needs reform – they are mired in turmoil and conflict, with nearly half the Board found to have violated ethics laws but the very politicians who are found to have broken the law are blocking enforcement.

Politicians should not be subject to the influence of rich developers whose interests are profits, not people. But too often we see our local elected officials take donations from corporations and vote to support developers over the objections of legal counsel and residents. Patrick won’t take donations from developers or corporations and will support banning corporations and developers from making political contributions in Maryland.

In the General Assembly, Patrick will support measures that protect electoral integrity, increase resident engagement in our government and reduce the oversized influence of money in policymaking. In local development, he will work to change the zoning power structure in Prince George’s County and restrict contributions from developers and corporations. And he will continue to seek additional resources for election access and campaign finance enforcement, using the levers of government to empower community leaders, members, and voters and pursue special elections for statehouse vacancies, rather than the current practice of political back-scratching for vacancy appointments that are made by political insiders.

21st Century Infrastructure

To properly address both the pandemic and our climate crisis, we must take swift and unapologetic action to fully leverage the tools and technologies that exist today and build healthier, more sustainable, and just systems that meet the unique needs and challenges of this time. This includes policies and investments that expand renewable energy infrastructure, promote zero-waste behaviors in our homes and buildings, and reduce the waste we send to landfills.

And it requires us to be more thoughtful on development policy – to plan and prepare for the impacts of population increases with more resources for schools, local emergency services, government outreach programs, affordable housing, traffic impacts, health and environment, and noise mitigation. More reliable and accessible transit options are also necessary to combat the disparities that were present before, but amplified by, the pandemic. Workers and families need reliable connections to city centers, jobs, and childcare.

We can both protect our environment and collective quality of life while pursuing new development that provides world-class amenities, high-paying jobs, and housing for our growing communities. However, the residents of District 22 must be protected from the potentially devastating effects of gentrification – protecting residents from displacement, ensuring that adequate affordable housing options are available, and maintaining a cost of living that allows families to save and thrive.

Justice for Working Families

As families across Prince George’s County and the U.S. continue to struggle through the impacts of COVID-19, we are failing to provide the resources and support necessary for a full economic and emotional recovery. This includes a renewed focus on paid family and sick leave; increasing the minimum wage, affordable access to and increased investment in childcare centers and increased wages for those who work in them; expanded and school-based mental health services; and additional resources and access to capital to help the small businesses that employ so much of our workforce.

While many of our residents have shifted to permanent or part-time remote work, others face unsafe and potentially life-threatening conditions as we begin a return to in-person work. Twenty-seven percent of the people employed in District 22 work in fields that may have required them to report as essential workers during 2020. As a passionate union leader and advocate for many years, Patrick knows that our ability to safely negotiate with employers is especially crucial as more people return to work in person, and others navigate expectations for remote work. And he will continue to be a vocal advocate for protecting our unions and their ability to support a livable wage, comprehensive health insurance plans, sick and family leave, and safe and sanitary working conditions.

Modern Immigration Policy

Prince George’s County’s economic and social well-being has always been strengthened by the cultural diversity present across our communities. We must continue to support modern and common-sense systems that raise up our immigrant populations with community-based resources and programs, and provide pathways to citizenship.

On the day after Trump issued his Sanctuary City Executive Order, Patrick introduced legislation on the Hyattsville City Council to make Hyattsville a Sanctuary City, working closely with the local immigrant-rights advocacy organization CASA, the Hyattsville City Attorney, and the Police Chief to ensure policy both reflected our values and had no negative impact on the city police department’s ability to enforce criminal laws in Hyattsville. He also championed Spanish translation of city communications on the Council when there was no in-house translation capacity, despite Spanish being the primary language spoken in 20% of Hyattsville households.

In the General Assembly, Patrick will continue his work to protect our neighbors through initiatives that prohibit jurisdictions from entering agreements with license plate reader companies who share that information with DHS for immigration enforcement, prohibit MVA officials from sharing/searching databases for ICE, and ban participation in the 287g program, an agreement between local law enforcement and ICE that deputizes local officers to act as immigration enforcement agents. And, he will continue to ensure state programs are available to residents, regardless of immigration status, including increased funding for free legal services and social support non-profit organizations.

Criminal Justice Reform

We’ve made great progress over the last year in Maryland and Prince George’s County towards progressive reforms that eliminate racial disparities and improve transparency and collaboration in relationships between communities and local police departments. It is now incumbent upon us to successfully implement these policies at the local level with an evidence-based and equity-focused approach that expands community-centered solutions, promotes just policing, and makes our neighborhoods safer.

This includes reducing the disproportionate impact that excessive bail and fines have on communities of color and examining the various ways we criminalize homelessness with tactics like fines for sleeping in public places, or laws that require a permanent address to get a job. We must also remove barriers and create more robust pathways for returning citizens while reducing incarceration for minor violations. And we must be exponentially more proactive in identifying and addressing the mental health, substance abuse, and trauma-based issues that, without understanding and proper treatment, result in unnecessarily high rates of incarceration and recidivism.