Joan Pontius

Candidate for Howard County Council – District 5

June 8, 2022

Indivisible Howard County/Immigration Action Team Candidate Questions

  1. 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?

I think both those in favor of CB63-2020 and those calling for its repeal would agree that it is crucial for the county to decide on an immigration policy.  I have read the Liberty Act and support it in its current form.  County officials can’t be held responsible for enforcing federal immigration. Also, the law specifically provides for collaboration for law enforcement according to state and Federal law, so the claims that the act would prevent law enforcement seem unfounded to me. Better than a referendum for repeal would be for those with objections to identify the specific elements of the law that need to be revised and to offer alternatives.

2. 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?  

Our diversity is a reason for celebration. Sadly, when a society is stressed, for example with economic decline or in the consequences of the Covid pandemic, there is a rise in blaming our most vulnerable residents for hardships. This is always unacceptable, and especially troubling in times when we need most to come together. As a county leader, I will speak out against negative comments directed at minorities at my town halls and other social events. I will share announcements in my newsletters of celebrations of diversity such as festivals. Lastly, I will keep apprised of trends in hate crimes in Howard County.

3. What specific steps would you take to help both documented and undocumented immigrants, specifically students and young adults, succeed in Howard County?

Perhaps some of the most important tools for immigrants are legal referrals, job training, and, for non-English speaking immigrants, language classes. I would review the accessibility to these resources, and meet with the county’s immigrant support groups to learn more of their needs.

Other opportunities for improvement in the county would benefit all citizens, not only immigrants. We need to widen the range of housing choices to include more efficiencies and one bedroom apartments. These housing options are crucial not only for low income, students, and young adults but for anyone, regardless of income or age, who would rather not maintain a large living space. 

The Covid pandemic has shown us the importance of access to healthcare for all, instead of only for those who can afford it. We need to better serve the uninsured and under-insured, no matter their immigration status. For adults who are not ready to start a family, and even for existing families, birth control is particularly crucial. In view of the troubling attack on birth control rights by the supreme court, Howard County has to take a stand and guarantee that the decision of when and under what circumstances to have a child will be a private decision between a woman and her healthcare provider.