Steny H. Hoyer, 81

Democrat

Mechanicsville

Incumbent District 5 representative

Chris Palombi, 36

Republican

St. Leonard

Webmaster, H.S. hockey coach

1. Do you think county jurisdictions in this district are handling COVID-19 related reopenings appropriately?

Steny Hoyer: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every single Marylander. Only through listening to our health care professionals and scientists will we defeat this virus. I was extremely disappointed that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) left counties to fend for themselves and implement their own reopenings. This patchwork approach makes it harder to defeat the virus in our state and keep our families healthy and safe. I applaud the counties in the Fifth District for taking caution when reopening. I know many Marylanders are frustrated by the restrictions in place, but we must remain vigilant and work together to defeat this virus.

Chris Palombi: Local and county jurisdictions could only go as far as the state of Maryland allowed. The vast majority of businesses within the district had the foresight and ability to manage their operations in a manner consistent with current good practices of COVID-19 infection protocol. However, certain jurisdictions limited businesses within their districts even after state government had allowed expanded reopenings. Businesses were prohibited from opening solely based on their physical address without consideration of the protocols that they had worked hard to put in place. Small businesses were forced to shutter while larger stores with much more foot traffic selling many of the same goods were allowed to remain open. Amazon, Walmart and Target all saw profits increase during the pandemic while small business owners and employees suffered. I applaud the innovative ways businesses have expanded to stay afloat. Many moved to online sales and curbside pickup; restaurants quickly changed over to carryout and delivery, then to outdoor dining. However, not all businesses could legally or physically make adjustments to remain open and some were unable to obtain needed PPP loan funding. It is extremely disappointing, especially when the difference of weeks could have made a difference to save the now permanently shuttered businesses.

2. How would you strengthen and maintain military bases in the region?

Hoyer: Southern Maryland’s military installations at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Indian Head Naval Surface Warfare Center, and Webster Field are not only some of the largest employers in the region, but support our national security through relevant missions. Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have been instrumental in saving or bringing jobs to these installations through the base realignment and closure process. I will continue to use my position in Congress to advocate for bringing missions that support our national security to these installations.

Palombi: Our district has a proud tradition of active military, veterans, and businesses supporting our national military structure. I wholeheartedly support those who ensure our national defense. Sufficient infrastructure must be maintained throughout our local military bases. Funding to support conventional capability in personnel and material, as well as unconventional capability in the form of cyber security, is a must. Having reliable electronic connectivity is essential for military bases. In today’s environment, teleworking has become more commonplace and we must ensure our electronic infrastructure is secure. Maintaining our data integrity and enhancing server security is a major component to ensure our sensitive intellectual property is protected, while making sure we have the strongest and most technologically advanced military to protect our citizens, property and sovereignty. Our military bases are a major acquisition hub. Promoting and recruiting companies to our district to support cyber intelligence will strengthen our bases, region, and our nation. In order to maintain a good community relationship, encroachment plans for flight routes and more need to be identified and enhanced. Smart growth of the infrastructure near the local military bases will assist in establishing lifelong communities and a strong economy with a public/private partnership with our local military bases.

3. How important is it for Maryland to respond to climate change? What strategies do you support?

Hoyer: Maryland communities are on the frontlines of the climate crisis, and are severely impacted by rising sea levels and more frequent and severe weather. President Trump and Republicans’ environmental policies have made communities here in the Fifth District more susceptible to climate change. We must undo the damage done by the Trump administration, and invest and deploy clean energy technologies to decarbonize our economy as soon as possible. Our nation needs to invest in clean energy infrastructure, such as electric vehicles, public transit, high speed rail, more efficient buildings, and a cleaner electric grid. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we must pay close attention to the impact climate change has on our low-income communities and communities of color, who are all too often marginalized and overlooked. Working together, we can seed the ground for a clean energy economy that tackles the climate crisis and invests in helping Marylanders make it in America.

Palombi: We can all agree that we all want to live in a clean environment and breathe clean air. Whether it is on an individual, community or state level, we all have a responsibility to work toward greater health of our environment. We are stewards to the health of the Bay and the tributaries which feed into it. Environmental conservatism is important in our district and a healthy ecosystem leads to huge economic opportunities. American ingenuity and competitiveness can play a key role in addressing the environment. Doing so while embracing the free market will encourage innovation, energy independence and modernization of our infrastructure, while reducing emissions and promoting a healthy environment. Policies should support businesses and individuals who make a meaningful impact on preserving and enriching the environment, while empowering the private sector without government overreach. I would like to see Maryland become a hub for businesses that contribute to research and development of net-zero emissions technologies, while maintaining a balance between limited government and careful stewardship of our natural resources. Careful use of tax credits, federal opportunity zones and public-private partnerships can become a driving force for expansion.

4. Why should voters choose you instead of your opponent?

Hoyer: Throughout my time in Congress, I’ve put the needs of Fifth District families first. I feel as passionately about the issues facing my constituents today as when I first ran for office. I’ve worked hard to build a record to expand voting rights, reduce disparities in health care and education, advance criminal justice reform, and ensure equality for all Americans. But there’s much work to be done, including fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and repairing our economy, tackling climate change, and making health care more affordable. I’ll continue fighting for Marylanders, and I look forward to receiving their support in November.

Palombi: I’m not a career politician. I have no corporate or lobbyist obligations and if elected I will truly serve the constituents of the district. I’ll work tirelessly for free market principles and embrace entrepreneurship to make sure every American — regardless of race, religion, or creed — has a shot at the American dream. I’ll be an advocate for your Constitutional Rights to ensure every individual has equal rights and liberties. I’ll strive to create a culture of transparency and accountability. I’ll work to rein in out-of-control spending and work to reduce the national debt by being more efficient with taxpayers money. My political beliefs will not be 100% aligned with anyone. We all have unique perspectives and backgrounds. It takes conversations and open dialogue to elevate each other and springboard ideas for meaningful reform.

The congressional approval rating has been very low for years and the divisiveness on Capitol Hill is dividing this country. It is the American people and the constituents of this district that ultimately pay the price for the partisan gridlock that has escalated over the past 40 years. I have been in the workforce both in the public and private sector since I was 15 years old. I am proud to have served as a U.S. Capitol Police Officer, take pride in mentoring our youth as a coach and teacher, and take initiative in building solutions as a self-taught web programmer. Having broad life experiences and first hand knowledge of various industries is a benefit for anyone holding a position in public office. Many career politicians have spent their working lives in the D.C. bubble and haven’t had the perspective of being amongst the constituents with which they serve in a long time. Many constituents throughout the district are not happy that their voices are not being heard or recognized in our seat in Congress. It would be an honor to serve and represent the constituents in Congress.