Candidate Survey: Darren Burns for Delegate, District 30A
Office Sought and District
House of Delegates – District 30A
Bachelor’s Degree from Hampden-Sydney College;
Juris Doctor from William & Mary Law School
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First-time Candidate for Elective Office
Social Media Accounts
Why are you running for office?
New leadership is needed in Annapolis. Specifically, we need more Republicans in the General Assembly, in order to break the Democratic control of the legislative agenda and to help Governor Hogan lead Maryland in the right direction in his second term. I decided to run because I want to be part of this change, and I believe I have the background & skills necessary to represent this district. I grew up in Anne Arundel County, I am raising my own family in Annapolis, and I have spent nearly all of my professional life here. I am well-versed in the State & local issues relevant to citizens in the Annapolis area. As an attorney, especially one who has worked on legislative matters ranging from public education to construction, I am familiar with the law-making process. I have an understanding of the need to balance policy goals with constituents’ varying interests and, I believe, enough life experience to know when another law or regulation isn’t necessary. My work with public schools here and across the state for the past 23 years has also prepared me to understand the complexities of how major government enterprises function and how they can be improved.
Who do you consider your political role model, and why?
Governor Ehrlich and Governor Hogan. I believe both are moderate and compassionate on social issues, but they recognize that bigger government & bigger budgets (propped up by increased taxes) are not the answer. Their successes demonstrate what Republicans can accomplish in Maryland.
What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why?
Not sure I can pick a favorite. However, some that have broadened my understanding of history and politics include, in no particular order: Chernow’s Hamilton; Ellis’ His Excellency; Korda’s Ike: An American Hero; Millard’s The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey
What will be your top priority in the General Assembly?
Changing the mostly-liberal special-interest culture that has given rise to 3000+ bills being introduced every year, rather than a conservative governance approach that focuses on prioritized spending & asks what solutions make sense — besides just another law or regulation. Bigger government and greater spending are not a panacea, even on social issues; there are times when government needs to get out of the way and let our citizens’ inherent dreams and abilities lead the way.
What is the biggest issue facing your district?
Ensuring the continued economic well-being of our community.
What are the three biggest issues facing Maryland?
Renewing our investment in transportation and other public infrastructure; balancing economic development, redevelopment and
measured growth with preserving our quality of life in
Annapolis and Arundel County; enhancing resources for behavioral/mental health (including for addressing opioid abuse & addiction)
What is your position on life issues? (abortion, assisted suicide)
I am pro-choice, in that sense that I believe each woman must be free to make choices based on their individual faith and values. At the same time, i support the prohibitions in most states (including Maryland) on abortion when a fetus is deemed viable outside the womb. Further, I believe that if government policy must come into play, it should be focused on the wide range of reasonable alternatives, not promoting abortion. While I see “assisted suicide” as fraught with ethical, moral and legal ramifications, i believe we must also engage in more open and empathetic dialogue about how to ease the suffering endured by those facing end-of-life and terminal illness challenges.
What is your position on taxes and spending?
Less of both, please. Government has become super-sized, and it’s not sustainable.
What is your position on gun rights?
I believe in the Second Amendment and all constitutional rights. At that same time, no right can be wholly unfettered. There can be a role for adopting carefully crafted, reasonable restrictions (such as banning bump stocks); for enforcing personal accountability for anti-social conduct, including carelessness; and for punishing those who break laws in the trade & use of firearms, rather than law-abiding citizens who bear arms.
What is your position on education?
This is quite an open-ended question. I’ll simply say that that a good education, public or private, is fundamentally necessary for each individual to become a responsible, contributing, stake-holding member of society.
What is your position on the legalization of marijuana?
Maryland has barely begun wading into medicinal marijuana (and even that in fits & starts). We should carefully assess this step and its consequences before even considering expanding the scope of legalization. That said, to the extent some degree of decriminalization of minimal possession offenses could free up resources for dealing with violent offenders and more serious crimes, it is worth exploring. Again, we need to proceed very cautiously, especially in an era in which opioid abuse and addiction has reached crisis stage.
What is your position on the current three-tiered system for the sale and distribution of alcohol?
I am not convinced the current system is “broken” in any way that requires focusing significant public energies (and resources) on overhauling it. That said, responsible public policy must promote—or at the very least, not discourage—business and employment opportunities. To the extent the current system is “locking out” innovation and creativity in the marketplace, and driving beverage industry entrepreneurs out of state, we need to examine how to broaden opportunity in the sector.
Legislators can receive $101 per day for lodging and $47 per day for meals during the 90-day General Assembly session. If elected, do you plan to accept these benefits? Why or why not?
No. However, I live near Annapolis, so lodging is not an issue for me. I understand that for those representing more distant areas of the State, there is a practical challenge: for them to be where they need to be during session, they may not be able to go home each night. The meal expense is less defensible; wherever one works, there will be meal expenses, even for bringing lunch from home. Why should legislators expect a break on such expenses merely because they happen to be serving in Annapolis. Several years ago, Sen. Kittleman offered some proposals for addressing these issues. The GA should revisit the topic next year, including looking for a way for those who decline the money to redirect those resources.
There is a culture of depravity and sexual harassment prevalent in the Maryland General Assembly. As a legislator, how will you work to end this culture of depravity and to ensure that those who commit these acts are removed from the General Assembly?
First of all, long-time “power-brokers” in the GA should not be setting the agenda and course on reform efforts. The phrase “too little, too late” comes to mind. Legislators, including the presiding officers, would do well in this instance to follow the lead of the Women’s Caucus, including their recommendations put forth in the 2018 session.