Donna Edwards Visits The Washington Informer
Dorothy Rowley and James Wright | 12/22/2011, 5:40 p.m.
DE: That's an excellent question, and as I've said before, I did a lot of work around civic participation challenging this question, trying to figure out how it is you get people engaged in the way that they want to be, as opposed to whatever the cookie cutter is that we as elected officials might want. For example, in the time that I've been in Congress, we've done a couple of different things. I think that anybody who pays attention to my social networking knows that I'm on Facebook and I tweet.
WI: So, what is it that you do hear about from the folks who show up [at your public events]? Which issues have you put the most resources in trying to tackle?
DE: We certainly have foreclosure, as it's an issue that just won't go away. I was speaking at a housing conference at the Gaylord Hotel with national housing agency advocates from all over the country. The D.C. Housing [Authority] was the host, and in talking to them about the challenges of finding affordable housing, that remains a challenge for us and all over Maryland, especially in Prince George's County and increasingly in Montgomery County.
Housing is so unaffordable that people who are struggling have to live farther and farther away from their jobs, because to meet the housing needs - it's like one hand trying to feed the other.
WI: Gov. O'Malley has ambitious plans [on] the infrastructure problems facing Maryland. He wants a 15 cents gas tax.
DE: We have $2 billion deficit for infrastructure spending. We have not raised the federal gas tax in 20 years and that is the principal way we pay for infrastructure.
WI: Are you for the windmill piece, too?
DE: I don't think it is either or. We have to look to multiple sources of energy. We have to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. Make it solar, wind, natural gas. We have wind tunnels across the country but they are not where the electricity is needed. Best places for solar is not where you need the energy. Wind, solar natural gas can convey that energy to communities.
WI: The County suffers from image problems. [Prince George's County Executive] Rushern Baker thinks that Prince George's can be a leader in green revolution, green businesses. How do you propose Prince George's moves toward green revolution?
DE: I think there are a couple of things: Our county has an untapped technology corridor. It's NASA in Greenbelt, NOA [National Oceanic Administration] in Suitland and the University of Maryland and its Science and Technology corridor. We are in a great position to take advantage of the future. As a county, [it] has to make the commitment. We have an education system that is second to none. When a company decides to locate in a particular place it makes sense where there are safe communities and kids can get a great education.
WI: Do you support statehood for District of Columbia?
DE: I have supported statehood for D.C. for a long time. I have reinforced that support as a member of Congress. This city is the heart of our democracy and no other developed nation has a city where the people who live there don't have a voice. It is really an embarrassment.