On the second day of interviews with Maryland gubernatorial candidates, former state senator Bobby Zirkin sat down with Democratic candidate Ashwani Jain, a first-time candidate and Program Director for the National Kidney Foundation in the DC metro area. The hour-long interview, which took place on December 6th at the Inscape Theater at the Stevenson University Greenspring Valley Campus in Baltimore County, was live-streamed, recorded, and is widely available to MSBA members and Marylanders across the state looking to learn more about the candidates’ vision and platform.During his time with Zirkin, Jain, who spent time working in the Obama Administration in both the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, shared his view on a number of hot topics and policy proposals at the core of his campaign platform.

Jain said he was running for governor as a way to “make [Maryland] politics more inclusive and accessible” to residents across the state. As an example, he pointed to his more than 150 policy proposals, which he explains were crafted “by residents who are going to be impacted by those [same] policies” because, as he puts it, “decisions about us should not be made without us.” 

Jain went on to describe a few of his signature policy programs, which aim to “eliminate the state income tax for 95% of Marylanders, make Maryland the first state to make public transit free, create the nation’s very first guaranteed jobs program, [and] legalize marijuana while expunging records,” among other things. On the topic of marijuana and expungement generally, Jain expressed his support for the legalization of marijuana and explained that  “people are still not able to get jobs because [possession] is still on their record” or “they have to pay a fee or go to court . . . and so if we are fully legalizing marijuana . . . then we [should] ensure that no one still has it on their record.”

Zirkin then asked Jain about his position on a number of other hot topics including mandatory prison sentencing, juvenile and young adult sentencing, and increased sentence times for repeat offenders of violent crimes. Responding with his position on the criminal justice system generally, Jain noted that “the goal should not be just to keep people in prison [and should instead] . . . be to really reform folks [and] make sure they’re getting the access to jobs, rehab, [and] whatever else they need.” Jain also touched on the importance of  “investing in local communities,” and better ensuring access to preventive care and nonprofit services  “to really get to the root causes” of criminal justice issues like sentencing and repeat offenders. 

Turning the conversation to policy concerning the judiciary, Zirkin asked for Jain’s stance on Governor Hogan’s recent proposals regarding judicial transparency (which would require courts to report crimes the sentence imposed, and an explanation for any departure in the sentencing guidelines by judges). In response, Jain noted his view that “overall the more transparency we have I think it does lead to more accountability” and on the topic of judicial elections Jain expressed his support for the existing system (in which circuit court judges are appointed and then stand for election one year after their appointment) noting that community members should “have trust and accountability with their elected officials [and] their judges.”  

You can view Ashwani Jain’s entire interview here.