Deb Jung www.votedebjung.com
Candidate for Howard County Council – District 4
Indivisible Howard County/Immigration Action Team Candidate Questions
- The Liberty Act (CB63-2020) was signed into law in 2020. A referendum to repeal this law is on the ballot for the November 2022 election. Do you support the Liberty Act? If so, will you publicly speak out in favor of it?
Yes, I voted for the Liberty Act and will speak out in favor of it. I have already done so in a number of forums.
- Hate crimes have been increasing in Maryland and nationwide against all minorities and most recently against people of Asian origin. As a County Councilmember, what would you do address this issue and prevent hate crimes in Howard County?
Before becoming a member of the County Council, I served as a member of the Howard County Human Rights Commission for five years and as Co-Chair of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission. Hate crimes and hate bias incidents have been with us throughout history and they have accelerated greatly as a result of rhetoric from former President Trump and others. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a spike in hate-inspired vandalism, social media posts and graffiti at our schools. The Harriet Tubman Cultural Center and an LGBTQ+ friendly church suffered from probable hate-inspired vandalism, as well as four Asian restaurants. Hate crimes and hate bias incidents undermine the bedrock principles of tolerance, inclusivity, and safety in our community and must be loudly condemned by public officials and other leaders.
During my first term, upon learning of hate crimes and hate bias incidents, I have tried to raise public awareness and have often met with leaders of the targeted community to express indignation, solidarity and discuss possible strategies for moving forward. Following the death of George Floyd, I attended the June 5th, 2020, Black Lives Matter protest at the Columbia Mall and Lakefront. In March, 2021, I attended the lakefront rally against anti-Asian hate spurred by an increase in hate bias incidents and the targeted robberies at four Asian restaurants.
I have used my Council Facebook page to raise public awareness of this serious problem. I have also approved appropriations to fund community outreach officers in the Police Department to the various ethnic and cultural groups as well as approved funding of additional mental health professionals and counsellors in the school system. My understanding is that the school system has a strong curriculum to instill tolerance in children as a preventive measure.
It is critical that hate crimes and hate bias incidents be reported by victims and be addressed appropriately by law enforcement, the Office of Human Rights and Equity, and HCPSS. This includes the use of restorative justice techniques (conflict resolution, peer mediation, social emotional learning and rehabilitation) to help all involved repair the damage done and hopefully result in the rehabilitation of the offender and the healing of the victim and impacted community.
In addition to continued use of the bully pulpit to raise public awareness, provide support for the affected communities, and provide fiscal resources to address the hate problem, I think that it would be useful in the next term for the County Council to hold an oversight hearing(s) that would allow the various communities to express their views on the matter and also receive testimony from law enforcement, the Office of Human Rights and Equity, and the BOE/HCPSS as to best practices to prevent and address hate crimes and hate bias incidents. We need to see where we are as a community on this topic and discuss potential next steps.
- What specific steps would you take to help both documented and undocumented immigrants, specifically students and young adults, succeed in Howard County?
With the termination of the ICE contract, adoption of the Liberty Act, and the ballot effort to repeal the Liberty Act, immigration issues have been front and center in Howard County for the past three years. Additionally, there has been a change of leadership at the non-profit FIRN and its reconstitution as Luminous. As you know, I voted to support legislation to terminate the ICE contract and over-ride County Executive Ball’s veto. I also voted in favor of the Liberty Act which basically codified existing immigrant friendly procedures.
In terms of specific steps to help both documented and undocumented immigrants succeed, I voted for CB2-2022, which prohibits discrimination based on citizen or immigration status in the areas of employment, law enforcement, public accommodations, and housing. I also voted for CR104-2020, which prohibits discrimination based on immigration status in the County merit system.
I continue to believe that County departments should strive to increase direct services and equal access to persons with Limited English Proficiency. Howard County has improved its website to provide information about basic services and programs in a multitude of languages and has increased funding to Luminous to provide interpretive and translation services in a variety of contexts. The County grant to Luminous also allows the organization to focus on core issues such as housing, health equity, and family and community services. As it became clear that the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on the immigrant community, the County attempted to reach out to improve health access, including Covid testing and vaccinations.
We need to build on lessons learned in that context and apply it elsewhere. In the FY 23 budget, I voted to fund a maternal health initiative. As I understand it, some of that funding will be directed to the immigrant community to help improve maternal health outcomes. Outreach, access, and trust are all keys to success.
Montgomery County and Baltimore City are examples of local governments that provide high level visibility (and liaison) for immigrant services and programs. Montgomery has a Welcoming Framework in its Office of Community Partnerships that focuses on Leadership and Communications, Equitable Access, Safe & Connected Communities, Economic Opportunity & Education, and Civic Engagement. This includes building relationships and fostering trust with County Government at the highest levels. It requires a focused plan and it requires a coordinated strategy for implementation. We need that type of visible effort in Howard County and should build on the existing “welcoming” grant relationship that exists with Luminous. Job counseling and placement are specific economic opportunity efforts that could be useful here. Job training provides a pathway to success for both younger and older immigrants; HCC and other community colleges in the area have good programs that address these needs but I am not sure if the communities that could benefit from these programs are aware of them.
In addition, Howard County should join Montgomery and Baltimore City in becoming members of Welcoming America. http://welcomingamerica.org. There are many ideas and programs in Maryland and other parts of the country that could have utility here. I pursued this initiative with the Ball Administration early in the term and the Administration did not pursue it. I would again recommend taking this step to the next County Executive.
Likewise, Howard County should also follow Montgomery County and Baltimore City in joining Cities for Citizenship to promote naturalization and citizenship, including voting. http://citiesforcitizenship.com. Former County Executive Leggett joined with non-profit organizations in Montgomery County to launch a Citizenship Initiative. We could launch a similar effort while building on the efforts of the Howard County Library System and invest more in Citizenship programs here.