State Senate: Karen Lewis Young | 2022 Primary Voters Guide


Karen Lewis Young

Political party: Democrat

Where you live: Frederick

Current occupation and employers (may also list up to two previous jobs you have held); if retired, indicate your last employment and employer: Retired; Director of Market Research, Capital One; Vice President, Senior Product Manager, Allfirst Bank

Political experience (public office held and when; as well as unsuccessful election campaigns and what years; do not include positions in political parties): Chairman pro tem, Frederick Board of Aldermen, 2009-2013; Democratic candidate for mayor of Frederick, 2013; House of Delegates, District 3A, 2015–present

1 – Why are you applying for this position? (75 words max)

As the granddaughter of an immigrant refugee, I have a deep respect for freedom, justice and opportunity. While volunteering for over 18 community service organizations, it has been rewarding to help others who may not always have a voice of their own. As a legislator, I have been able to implement policy changes that significantly improve the lives of others who have struggled to access basic needs. The satisfaction that comes from these successes motivates me.

2 – What is the most important issue for Frederick County in this race? How would you approach it? (100 words max)

In Frederick County, 37% of households struggle to afford basic necessities. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this situation. These households, also known as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), struggle to afford housing, food, transportation, childcare, taxes, and medical bills. The Maryland General Assembly has addressed all of these topics in recent years, but there is still much to do. Although the solutions are very complex, I will focus on reducing medical costs, providing more affordable housing, increasing our options for public transportation, defending a living wage, expanding the early childhood education and the search for innovative childcare options.

3 – What experience (professional, political or other) has prepared you for this position? (100 words max)

I have worked in the banking and financial services industry for three decades. This perspective has given me the ability to understand the financial ramifications and cost/benefit trade-offs of decisions faced by elected officials. Twelve years as a legislator has given me a broad knowledge of important policy issues, as well as a deep understanding of how to work with all stakeholders to get things done. As President of the Washington Council of Governments and Vice Chair of the Maryland Municipal League Legislative Committee, I have held a leadership position in our state and region.

4 – What is the major problem that the current Senate has mishandled and what would it have done differently? (100 words max)

House Bill 1343 improves existing pay-for-play laws, requiring major state contractors to report to the state Board of Elections contributions they make to campaigning advocacy organizations in favor of a major state project in which the contractor has a financial interest. This practice, known as “astroturfing”, is when an advocacy organization is created to take on the guise of a grassroots movement. The support actually comes from a select group of special interests with financial interests in this project. This bill would have created greater awareness of taxpayers’ money channeling through an advocacy organization and the Senate should have passed it.

5 – What is the most pressing health issue in the state? How would you approach it? (100 words max)

Health care costs are the main contributors to inflation. I have spent the last 7.5 years focusing on this issue. Maryland’s unique health care reimbursement model sets annual caps on hospital services, resulting in lower costs. Our Prescription Drug Affordability Council assesses expensive drugs and offers appropriate responses, including setting caps. The state reinsurance program mitigates the impact of high-cost registrant premiums on carriers participating in the individual market. This keeps premium increases to a minimum. I believe the next steps are to offer a single-payer option and allow Medicare to negotiate prices directly with drug manufacturers.

6 – What is the most pressing public safety issue in the state? How would you approach it? (100 words max)

Mental illness is an urgent public safety issue, complicated by poverty and addiction. Community and law enforcement resources must be coordinated to identify those at risk and connect them to resources to break the cycle of violence. When people are involved in the criminal justice system, we need to better prepare them to reintegrate into our community after their incarceration. Nearly 40% of incarcerated people end up coming back. We need to use incarceration to put people on the path to stability. Education and job training have proven effective in reducing crime, so that people can participate in legitimate economic activities.

7 – To what extent is the State tackling climate change? What would you do differently? (100 words max)

The Climate Solutions Now Act reinforces Maryland’s commitment to mitigating the effects of climate change by setting realistic goals to reduce greenhouse gases and achieve statewide net-zero emissions goals. by 2045. Another legislative effort calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 60% below 2006 levels by 2031, or 20% above current requirements. However, updated information on the Chesapeake Bay indicates little progress in controlling nutrient runoff from farmland. These data indicate that efforts to plant cover crops, install stream buffers, and build manure storage facilities are offset by increased crop production, increased fertilizer use, and more livestock. This must be resolved.

8 – Are you in favor of widening highways 270 and 495 and adding tolls? Why or why not? (100 words max)

I have concerns about this proposal. Given the size and impact of this project, we need a better understanding of the environmental impact and a full economic analysis. Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and the public had very few opportunities to comment. An assessment of the impact of this project on greenhouse gases has not been introduced. Environmental justice analysis was also omitted. Less harmful alternatives should be considered and mitigation measures should be identified. Once this information has been provided, the public should be given the opportunity to give their opinion.


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