Candidate Survey: David Lashar for Governor
TheDuckpin.com Candidate Survey
Office Sought *
Political Party *
BA, Dartmouth College. MBA, Carnegie Mellon University.
Political Experience *
CIO, COO, and Chief of Staff at Maryland Dept. of Health, 2016 - 2018. Libertarian Party candidate for Congress (MD - 3rd), 2018.
Social Media Accounts *
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjnyOHBGs1mSkOTsXdrhmWQ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lashar2022
Why are you running for office? *
The American experiment in democracy is in jeopardy. But not for the reasons that the two big parties, the Ds & the Rs, would have us believe. Rather, by reason of the two big parties themselves, which are no longer representing who we actually are... and are no longer taking us where we really want to go. The two established parties are too divisive in their politics. They are too intrusive with their policies into our lives. They are too quick to tell us how to think and what to do -- most especially the illiberal "Progressive" Democrats in recent years. I therefore decided to stand as a tolerant and responsible alternative... as a principled, accomplished, and civil candidate... who is the Libertarian Party's nominee for Maryland Governor. As a Libertarian, I am committed to uphold my party's Non-Aggression Principle, which rejects the initiation of force for pursuing personal, social, and political objectives. In other words: No bullying, no mobbing, and no coercion. No riots or insurrections, either. From my professional career as an IT executive, I bring experience and accomplishment from both the legislative and executive branches of government at both the federal and state levels, including leadership of technology and operations at Maryland's Department of Health. As Governor, I will be committed to expanding opportunity for all Marylanders; promoting accountability amongst individuals & authorities; and extending civility to all fellow citizens. As a practical day-to-day matter, I will use my experience from inside and outside government to make sure that State programs are run efficiently and effectively on behalf of all Marylanders.
Who do you consider your political role model, and why? *
I admire George Washington for having resisted the temptations of power and resigned his commission as commander in chief of the Continental Army, which he did at our own State House in 1783. At that time, he could have asserted himself as an American Caesar. Instead, he yielded to civilian authority. I admire Abraham Lincoln for saving the union and abolishing slavery while navigating a fearsome political environment and brilliantly explaining his principles and hopes. I admire Martin Luther King, Jr, for persuasively and peacefully calling on America to fulfill its founding principles and vision by extending equal civil rights to all; also for making progress toward a beloved community (as he called it) that recognizes the shared frailties and common dignity of all people regardless of color or creed.
What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why? *
For movies and books, I would point to The Matrix for its themes of choice and freedom; for its compelling depiction of the differences between life under conditions that celebrate the collective versus life under conditions that cherish the individual. For similar reasons, I would cite Dr. Zhivago, whether the novel or the movie. In addition, I would point to the HBO series, The Wire, for its haunting depiction of the comprehensive and unconscionable failure of modern-day Prohibition (i.e., the war on drugs), which failure in sum has caused the rise of lawlessness and the decay of hope in urban communities most especially. For reading and speeches, I would point to Thomas Sowell, Niall Ferguson, Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and MLK Jr.
What will be your top priority in office? *
As Governor, my top priority will be to restore hope that we Marylanders can resume progress together.... regardless of anyone's race, gender, sexuality, politics, or circumstances... on our state's and our country's fitful but steady journey toward a more perfect union for all. In other words, I will seek to advance liberty, justice, and prosperity... all three of these social imperatives... for all Marylanders. I will do so by caring about and working with all Marylanders. For specific ideas and examples on policy, please see the rest of this survey and/or visit https://davidlashar.com/ideas/.
What is the biggest issue facing Maryland? *
The biggest issue facing our state and our nation is the practice of divisive politics... and the imposition of intrusive policies... by both the Democratic and Republican parties. As Maryland Governor, I will be different. I will be genuinely inclusive in my politics, because I appreciate and embrace all persons of goodwill regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, politics, or circumstances. I will be restrained in my policies, because I maintain an abiding faith in the ability of individuals to make decisions for themselves and their loved ones. And finally, I will be devoted to persuasion over coercion. Especially on topics of complexity and divisiveness, I will educate & advocate instead of sermonizing & demonizing; instead of mandating and dictating.
What are the three biggest issues facing Maryland? *
As Governor, my top three policy priorities will be school choice, criminal justice, and urban renaissance. 1. For school choice, I will put my force of word and my power of office toward any and all measures that provide students, families, AND teachers throughout Maryland the opportunity to pick from a range of schools for their educations and careers in pre-K thru 12, howsoever they might deem best for themselves and their loved ones. Just as wealthy people can do. Just as college students and professors already do. The public monopoly on education must come to an end (especially for our historically disadvantaged communities). The money for schools must follow the child. 2. For criminal justice, I will strengthen and empower the Office of the Public Defender for genuinely effective representation of indigent defendants who are standing trial. We cannot be proud of our court system, and we cannot be confident of just decisions rendered, if the Public Defender is not funded and staffed to provide effective representation. In addition, I will make a personal priority for responsible and effective implementation of the transparency-and-accountability reforms for law enforcement that the General Assembly passed in 2021 over Gov. Hogan's objections and vetoes. I will press to reform qualified immunity, making sure to safeguard officers and officials from harassment and distraction when performing their jobs reasonably while also holding them accountable for their worst abuses of authority and power. The balance will not be easy to find, but states like Colorado are passing bills to which we can refer. What we need to remember is that the police might well have the toughest jobs in society, exposing themselves to danger and violence in order to keep the rest of us safe. And while it is imperative for the police NOT to be defunded and disempowered (evidence for which is abundant in Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia, etc), they DO indeed need to be reformed for transparency and accountability, which has been long overdue and is a necessary step for restoring mutual trust between law enforcement and the communities that it serves. 3. For urban renaissance, I will first and foremost push for school choice, as already described. In addition, and with equal passion, I will push for an end to the so-called "war on drugs," which precisely like Prohibition a hundred years ago has served only to bring lawlessness while extinguishing hope mostly but far from exclusively in our urban neighborhoods. My approach is to legalize the range of drugs in which gangsters traffic, making those which are most addictive available via licensed dispensaries, much as is currently being done with medical cannabis in Maryland and elsewhere, but with the difference that services and supports for addiction (i.e., substance use disorders) be made available. This way, our streets can be recovered from their reign of gangster terror. And those who are in the clutches of addiction can receive the help they need for recovery from their own personal demons. All of which must be done both with and through the relevant county and local governments. To do any less is to be complicit in an unconscionable abandonment of the innocent youth and the decent residents of our communities that are subject to gangsters and traffickers. Finally as my third key tactic for urban renaissance, I would add the promotion of affordable housing via market-driven incentives and mechanisms. For more on these and other of my ideas for a better Maryland for us all, please visit https://davidlashar.com/ideas/.
What is your position on life issues? (abortion, assisted suicide) *
My position is that individuals need to be trusted to make their own decisions, even on complex, moral questions such as those relating to beginning and end of life. For beginning of life, I believe that a woman who becomes pregnant must possess the freedom to decide through the point of fetal viability whether to continue with her pregnancy. I therefore support current Maryland laws on abortion. In similar manner, I believe that individuals who are terminally ill and are confronting an end of life fraught with pain and suffering must be afforded the right to choose a death with dignity. For this position, I would emphasize the distinction between a suffering end-stage cancer patient choosing to end her life peacefully versus a young depressed individual deciding to commit suicide. For the former, which I characterize as death with dignity, there is an absence of physical self-violence; the patient’s choices are not distorted by mental illness; and the individual does not die alone and in despair. Patients die in the circumstances they choose, most often at home with the comfort of family. Which is what I support. For more on these complex questions, including responsibilities to be recognized and safeguards to be emplaced, please see my longer statements at https://davidlashar.com/ideas/.
What is your position on taxes and spending? *
The fewer and the lower the taxes, the better. But this being Maryland, and the Democrats holding super majorities in the Assembly, I will answer here with that which I would propose and pursue with ambition actually to carry. First, I would abolish income taxes for retirees, in part for relief to those with modest means; in part as incentive to those who are well-off to keep their residency (and taxes) here in Maryland (instead of, for example, Florida). Second, I would seek to reduce excise taxes, especially the sales tax and the gas tax, which taxes fall especially hard on low-income and middle-income Marylanders -- who are the very ones who most need relief from the surging inflation brought to us by free-spending, shutdown-ordering politicians from both the Democratic and Republican parties (albeit mostly from the former). Third, I would save as much of the State's current budget surpluses as possible, at a minimum two-thirds of it, for the rainy-day fund. In part, because the federal government is already... irresponsibly and unsustainably, I might add... deluging state and local governments across the country with money. In part, because the combination of mounting debt and surging inflation in the U.S. bodes a financial reckoning for which we ought to be prepared. Finally, because not many Marylanders appreciate it, I would mention my support and gratitude for our unique-in-the-nation Board of Public Works (BPW), which in short is the institution that keeps our state somewhat fiscally restrained despite its liberal / progressive politics in the Assembly. As Governor, I would seek to continue the kind of collaboration and cooperation in the BPW that has prevailed for a number of years between Governor Hogan, Comptroller Franchot, and State Treasurer Kopp.
What is your position on gun rights? *
Individuals possess an inherent right to defend themselves against aggression, which makes the right to keep and bear arms a fundamental right that must be honored and protected. Maryland already has enacted some of the strictest gun-control laws in the nation but it nonetheless suffers some of the highest rates of homicide by shooting, with Baltimore tragically recording 293 such homicides in 2021. We therefore do not need further ineffectual controls, for example the ghost-gun laws that the Attorney General is advocating. Instead, for those who genuinely care about reducing gun violence in Maryland or elsewhere, we need to do two things. 1. Given that nearly two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides, we need to bolster the availability and effectiveness of behavioral-health crisis services, such as those available via the United Way 211 call network. 2. Even more pressing, we need to end the war on drugs, so as to eliminate the street-level incentives that a policy of Prohibition creates for lawlessness and violence in historically disadvantaged communities most especially. If the goal is to vastly reduce gun violence, and not incidentally to restore lawfulness and hope in our most distressed communities, no other policy could do more.
What is your position on the legalization of marijuana? *
We ought not merely to legalize cannabis (i.e., marijuana), a policy that would do little but to enrich some few dozen Maryland entrepreneurs while creating a new tax stream for Maryland politicians to squander on their pet priorities. We ought instead to bring the entire war on drugs... which has destabilized, debilitated, and demoralized communities from Bangor through Baltimore to Bogota... to an end. Specifically, we must make drugs available from lawful sources along the following lines: 1. Recreational as well as medical: If we are to strike at the revenue stream for traffickers and gangsters, which is my own policy objective and moral imperative, we must make drugs available for recreational as well as medical purposes. For drugs like cannabis and psylocibins, the approach should be similar to that which is being put in place in Seattle (using licensed dispensaries while also legalizing personal cultivation and consumption). For more potent drugs like alkaloids and opioids, which present significant risk of addiction and harm, the approach must provide availability through licensed dispensaries that provide opportunity for supports and services as described in the next paragraph. 2. Services as well as compounds: In order for the legalization strategy to be humane, we must make behavioral-health services available at the point of purchase for highly addictive drugs, focusing on those who for whatever reason are seeking, say, the opioids that their bodies and minds crave. These are the persons who are beset by internal demons and need our help. Which help, with a liberalized and humane policy, offering but not mandating services in a supportive environment, we as fellow citizens can offer. The point here being: Through the war on drugs across the last five decades and more, we as a society have consigned our most vulnerable individuals and communities to the predations of traffickers and gangsters in narcotics. We have also made ourselves culpable for the collapse of law and order… of decency and opportunity… in much of the U.S., Central America, and South America. These policies cannot be overturned quickly enough. And as overturned, they must be replaced by policies that are crafted in cooperation with local communities for delivering humane assistance to those who are addicts. Merely to legalize cannabis is to do nothing to restore hope either for those who live in our most distressed communities or for those who are trapped in addiction.
What is your position on the current three-tiered system for the sale and distribution of alcohol? *
The three-tiered alcohol distribution system in Maryland is a mix of special-interest cronyism and tax-boosting machination, all at the expense of consumers. This system is a vestige of Prohibition from 100+ years ago. Politicians at state and local levels seem to support the anachronistic distribution model because they get to tap the incumbent operators for donations to retain the status quo... which would seem to be the explanation for the average of 16 state-level and 106 local-level alcohol bills in legislative chambers each year. As Governor, I will move to repeal all the restrictions that currently relieve manufactures, distributors, and retailers from competing with another. The goal and the effect will be to bring Maryland consumers the best deals on the widest range of alcohol at the places they most like to shop. Just like in other states across the nation.
What is your position on land use, growth, and development? *
These are... and should remain... mostly local issues. For which in general, county and local governments should consider liberalization of long-standing constraints on the way that individuals and families are allowed to use their homes and properties. For example, zoning laws should be relaxed to make it easier in the modern, post-pandemic world for individuals to run businesses out of their homes. In addition, zoning laws should be relaxed to promote: Multi-family housing in more places than allowed today; smaller homes on smaller lots as part of housing-stock diversification; and rental apartments in basements of established homes. These kinds of ideas to promote affordable housing, of which the foregoing are but a few examples, are finding support even from politicians who stubbornly remain bullish on the kinds of “government first” housing programs that have consistently failed to achieve their objectives over the last several decades, from urban renewal (which created high-rise ghettos) through community block grants (which feed cronyism). These politicians include Barrack Obama with his Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program; Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) with his HOME Act; and even Joe Biden with his “starter homes” idea. Even the state of California, which has blundered its way to an outright affordable-housing crisis via its government-first housing initiatives over the last few decades, is taking some preliminary steps toward relaxing its restrictive zoning restrictions. As Governor, I would sponsor and encourage such measures myself, always working with the relevant local governments and communities.
What is your position on crime and public safety? *
Whether in Baltimore or in other cities across the nation, we are seeing a resurgence in crime. Which in part is from the movements to de-legitimize and de-fund the police. In part from attorneys general who refuse to enforce broad swaths of the law. And in part... very large part... from the on-going prosecution of the war on drugs. The call from Republicans for heavier criminal penalties, along with the "tough on crime" press conferences by Gov. Hogan, will not help. What will? At the most general and powerful level, we need to restore trust between law enforcement and the communities that it serves. As already stated, the police might have the toughest jobs in society. But too often for too long, the rare bad cop has been overly indulged and overly protected by the many good cops. The remedy is transparency and accountability, as is forthcoming from the General Assembly's 2021 reforms, which are overwhelmingly to the long-term good. The responsibility for the police is to work in good faith toward the transparency and accountability that has been legislated and is needed. The responsibility of the community.. and those within it who are the leading voices and elected officials... is to recognize that de-funding the police and suspending the law is not going to make the lives of regular, decent people any better. The opposite, in fact. So, it is time to enter into a new covenant. Transparency and accountability from the police, along with a return to community policing models. Support and engagement from the community. That's what's needed. And as Governor, I will be a committed voice and leader, even if neither I nor any other single person can bring about the requisite restoration of trust on their own. As tactics with potential for making a difference, I will as already stated work toward: An end to the war on drugs, an invigoration of the Office of the Public Defender, an effective implementation of the 2021 reforms (which must include the training for police that has not in the past been either prioritized or funded as need be), and as described in my Libertarian Black Agenda (on my campaign website), a review of non-violent offenders in State correctional facilities for potential release back to the community by gubernatorial pardon.
What is your position on county tax caps? *
As answered above: The fewer and the lower the taxes, the better. Tax caps can help, so I am supportive. But this is mainly a county and local issue.
Was Joe Biden legitimately elected President of the United States in the November 2020 Election? *
Do you pledge to accept the results of your election? *