Candidate Survey: Lisa Burnam for Prince George's County Council, District 9
TheDuckpin.com Candidate Survey
Office Sought *
Political Party *
B.A., Graphic Communication from University of Maryland Global Campus 2 years of African-American Studies, Howard University and was a member of the Kwame Ture Society.
Political Experience *
Currently, I’m a member of Progressive Maryland working with dedicated organizers to urge Congress to enact Medicare for All. I'm also a member of Democratic Socialists of America. And, I’m a part of the Resident Advisory Group (RAG) which is part of Prince George's County Climate Action Commission. I’ve spent my life serving. When I was 9, I started a program to feed homeless families. It was a simple idea but made a world of difference for more than 100 displaced families in my community. At 15, I started a weekly email newsletter (on AOL!) for young people struggling with depression. For years, I volunteered with ONE DC (Organizing Neighborhood Equity) and EMPOWER DC to help organize around worker cooperative development, affordable housing, and public education. I helped found Supporting Prisoners and Acting for Radical Change (SPARC) to provide transportation to families and get media coverage in support of hunger strikes by incarcerated men at Red Onion State Prison. For 1.5 years I was a radio co-host with Netfa Freeman on Voices w/ Vision on WPFW discussion issues of social justice for local and international communities.
Social Media Accounts *
Why are you running for office? *
I'm running for this seat because the magnitude of the crises facing our nation and planet requires radical action at every level of government. We can't wait on federal action or yield to the notion that locally we have no agency to change our circumstances structurally. Right now, I do not see an appropriate level of progressive leadership to meet the needs of the moment coming from the Prince George's County council, especially in my district. The latest example of why I'm running is the attempt to disenfranchise primary challengers through gerrymandering, which District 9 representative Sydney Harrison helped orchestrate. We need more trustworthy people in the office genuinely beholden to the tenets of democracy and transparency. We need someone to fight for better wages in local jobs and worker protections, housing for all, a green economy and green schools, and a more robust social safety net that includes paid family leave and child care for all. I'm a life-long advocate who has worked on many issues in non-profit advocacy for almost 15 years. As an individual, I've been active in local and international grassroots organizing for nearly as long. Yet, in both cases, more often than not, I've seen elected officials reject and indefinitely put off constituent demands and progressive policy recommendations for non-constituent related reasons or only accept them after a long-drawn-out struggle in the press. I believe for local movements to have substantive success, it's essential to have their champions in office. I want to use this office to help leverage the demands of working people in Prince George's County.
Who do you consider your political role model, and why? *
When you want common-sense programs like paid family leave, child care for all, and a $25 living wage with guaranteed worker protections, you have to anticipate opposition from not only the establishment but those you least expect in your community. So, I take a good bit of my inspiration from movements like porter workers who organized for ten years to form the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids, the first African American union to sign a labor agreement with a major corporation. With minimal (though significant) support they organized and weathered internal challenges, staunch opposition from the Pullman company (a major corporation) AND middle and upper-classes within the Black community. While I admire many individuals who made incredible contributions to the cause of social and economic justice, they all were part of and inspired by movements. Like Paul Robeson for his activism, class-conscious internationalist politics, and open solidarity with organized labor despite his superstar status. Nannie Helen Burroughs for her work to promote mutual aid societies and cooperatives, teaching women skills beyond domestic work defying conventions for women at the time. Wangari Maathai for her environmentalism and work to establish the Green Belt Movement as an African woman raised in a small rural village in Kenya. And Vandana Shiva (India) continues to lead the fight across India to empower small farmers and educate the world about ending the commodification and privatization of the planet (water, seeds, land, etc.). It's all about movements and the power of people working together. And there's so many who don't want to see solidarity among the sexes, genders, classes of workers and racial groups.
What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why? *
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. It's an analysis of modern human development from the perspective of a gorilla. Though simplified, I think it's brilliant to tell the story of globalism and it's devastating impact through a non-human.
What will be your top priority in office? *
Paid family leave and child care, ending runaway development, and a $25 livable age.
What is the biggest issue facing your area? *
Improving quality of public education, lack of affordable housing, need for quality and affordable child care, runaway housing development, flooding and lack of responsiveness from local government.
What are the three biggest issues facing Maryland? *
COVID-18 relief, a living wage, climate change.
What is your position on life issues? (abortion, assisted suicide) *
Health care is a human right, which includes abortion.
What is your position on taxes and spending? *
Prince George's County needs to institute a progressive tax, meaning the county's top earning households should be taxed at a higher rate than the rest of us. The county should use union labor and community workforce agreements in its projects to ensure tax dollars are put to the best use and minimize opportunities for waste and creating slush-funds for corporations and current/future donors. Also, not all new spending should come from taxation. The county should create social housing, apartments for rent that are owned and operated by the county. I believe we should also create county-run child care facilities, which would offer quality services at a lower rate for county residents. Finally, we should take ownership of the utilities company as well as establish a county-owned broadband service to ensure schools and residents have affordable, equitable access to internet. These modernization's would bring billions to the county over the next decade.
What is your position on gun rights? *
Given the ongoing and increasing rates of gun violence, I'm supportive of relinquishment programs and policies that work to disarm the public. In addition, I'd like to develop policies that combat gun trafficking, working in coalition with federal legislators and anti-gun violence advocates to strengthen federal licensing laws that govern gun sellers.
What is your position on the legalization of marijuana? *
Recreational consumption and commercial growth of marijuana should be legalized and all criminal records related to the sale and distribution of the substance should be expunged.
What is your position on the current three-tiered system for the sale and distribution of alcohol? *
I'm happy to learn more about this system and its effects on distributors, producers, and sellers. However, I know that in southern Prince George's, we should impose and maintain a healthy limit on the ratio of alcohol retailers to other retail businesses.
What is your position on land use, growth, and development? *
Each year the county needs to set a native plant and tree planting quota. We need to build new housing developments with access to mass transit options and near activity centers to help reduce reliance on personal vehicles to limit suburban sprawl. New housing should also withstand the impacts of floods, heatwaves, and other extreme weather due to the climate crisis. Given the imminent effects of climate change on global food supplies, we need to preserve and encourage the growth of green areas and communal subsistence farming. Finally, we should develop more multi-generational housing that can accommodate aging in place, disabled family members, and a range of needs in a given family. That shouldn't be a privilege for those who can afford to customize their home or expect a family to go into debt to make those modifications.
What is your position on crime and public safety? *
I think it's criminal for corporations like Amazon and Wal-Mart that rake in billions every year while paying Prince Georgian's poverty wages and providing inadequate healthcare. That creates instability for workers and their families, and that's not at all safe. I also believe that the county should create an agency to respond to wellness checks, mental health crises, and domestic disturbances. Finally, the county needs to find ways to disempower police unions from protecting cops who violate the public trust, are found to be white supremacists, liars, abuse their power, and use excessive force against people in my county.
What is your position on county tax caps? *
We shouldn't raise or eliminate property tax caps if we aren't already maximizing the resources they provide. Also, it's crucial to assess the financial health of homeowners before making changes to our local tax code and increasing taxes without a correlative increase in wages in putting a more significant burden on working-class households.
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? *