Family: Son, Jared, 19

Education: Juris Doctor – Franklin Pierce Law Center; bachelor of arts – Wake Forest University

Professional experience: Donna F. Edwards is the executive director, currently on a leave of absence, of the Arca Foundation in Washington, DC, where she directs foundation resources toward non-profit groups fighting for living wages, expanded voting rights and civic participation for people of color, and to protect social security from privatization. She worked on campaign finance reform issues as an advocate for Public Citizen and the Center for a New Democracy. Before becoming a lawyer, Donna was a systems engineer for Lockheed Corporation working at NASA. She also served with the United Nations Development Program. Prior to her position at Lockheed, she was the co-founder and executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, a national membership organization of state domestic violence coalitions from the 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia. Additionally, Donna has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, including the NNEDV, League of Conservation Voters, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and the National Governing Board of Common Cause.

Community experience: Since 2000, as a philanthropist and Executive Director of the Arca Foundation, Donna supported the work of nonprofit organizations in Maryland to end the application of the death penalty, to respond to domestic violence, to improve wages, and to achieve healthcare reform. She supported union organizing as a key component for higher wage jobs and benefits in the construction, development and operation of the National Harbor project. Donna is a longtime community advocate for public transportation, including the Purple Line and bringing Metro Rail over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

Key issues: Environment & Transportation; Healthcare; Education; Labor; Economy⁄Financial⁄Mortgage Crisis; Internet Freedom; War in Iraq; Domestic Violence

Web site: donnaedwardsforcongress

E-mail address: donna@

Telephone: 301-316-1880

Campaign headquarters: Prince George’s County, 3737 Branch Avenue, Temple Hills, MD 20748

Montgomery County, 5540 Norbeck Road, Rockville, MD 20853

Link to state Board of Elections campaign finance database

Congress, Dist. 4

Donna Edwards (D)

Click here to view excerpts of a conversation with Dist. 4 Democratic primary candidate Donna Edwards.

Q. What are your top three priorities for the next two years, if elected?

*Establish a quality, affordable, universal healthcare system. I am a strong proponent of comprehensive, quality, accessible and affordable health care for all. As healthcare costs are skyrocketing and eating increasingly into the budgets of families throughout our district, I believe we need to move swiftly toward a major overhaul of our health care delivery system that does not rely on an employer-based insurance model. Affordable health care access for all is sound social and economic policy that needs to be addressed immediately. I will support and work toward a universal, single-payer health care policy that meets the health care needs of the ever-increasing millions of Americans and the nearly 800,000 Marylanders who are without health care and those additional millions who have inadequate care. In the richest nation in the world, there is no reason why 46 million Americans should have to go without proper healthcare coverage.

*Address educational issues. We are the richest country in the world and yet our educational system is headed in the wrong direction. Regarding NCLB, the next Congress must either fix the deficiencies and then reauthorize or start over from scratch. The education of our children is simply too important and action must be taken immediately. I would also work to secure additional funding for vocational and technical training schools that has been slashed under the Bush Administration. These programs provide a critical opportunity for non-college bound students to learn a skilled trade to increase their earning potential. In the coming years we will need a trained and skilled workforce to fill jobs that will be required to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, from bridges, to rail transit, to water and sewer systems, to a new power grid as we move toward 21st Century energy technologies. We must also provide the proper support for our community colleges that represent an important educational option for so many students.

*End the War in Iraq. I opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning, believing it to be a foreign policy mistake and a potential military quagmire. Nonetheless, we must act decisively now so that a political solution can be achieved by and for Iraqis. I will support legislation to set a firm date to begin withdrawal as soon as possible. The best military estimates suggest that if we begin today, it would take 9 months to fully withdraw personnel and equipment from Iraq. This is why I believe we must establish a date certain and begin withdrawal now. We must simultaneously engage multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and re-establish ties with allies that we alienated in the run up to and conduct of the war to attain a diplomatic solution in Iraq.

Q. How would you rate the performance of the House of Representatives: excellent, good, fair or poor? Why?

I would rate the performance of the House of Representatives as fair. While there has been progress made on such issues as increasing automobile fuel efficiency standards, increasing tuition benefits and increasing minimum wage, I do not believe that the changes voters sought in the November 2006 elections were truly realized. We still have a lot of work to do on such issues as removing our presence from Iraq, moving toward quality, affordable universal healthcare, making our education system work for every child, and reducing our dependence on oil and fossil fuels to improve and protect our environment for future generations.

Q. Do you have a timeline on when the U.S. should pull out of Iraq?

I will support legislation to set a firm date to begin withdrawal immediately. The best military estimates suggest that if we begin today, it would take 9 months to fully withdraw personnel and equipment from Iraq. This is why we must establish a fixed date and begin withdrawal now.

Q. How should the government pay for the War on Terror and is it working?

We need to refocus our priorities on national security. We’re spending billions on a failed policy in Iraq — we must direct these resources toward real security in this country. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are regrouping in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan while we remain bogged down in Iraq. It is important for the US to use our resources for diplomacy, disease prevention, the alienation of poverty and other peaceful alternatives.

Q. Would you make any changes to the way the Department of Homeland Security is run?

The Department of Homeland Security has not resolved the problems of analysis, intelligence, and surveillance gaps that existed on September 11th, 2001. The DHS remains unorganized and the critique made in DHS’s 2005 audit remain true. The organization has still not found a way to integrate ‘‘its many separate components in a single, effective and economical department.” Infrastructure remains fractured and many factions of DHS, including the US Immigration and Customs Bureau, have failed to maintain proper financial records. I also believe that critical areas outlined as the initial causes for the formation of DHS, such as border security and intelligence sharing, have not been met. I understand these types of large-scale initiatives take time but if we are going to be serious about the safety of our citizens then we need to seriously reconsider the steps we have taken in their name.

Q. What should be done to reform Social Security, Medicare?

First and foremost, I will fight to protect the long-term sustainability of Social Security as a critical safety net for Americans. We cannot risk the future well being of our retirees by privatizing the nations retirement system. Inflation, market turns or loss of employment can mean that private accounts may not have enough money to provide adequate benefits. We must take the necessary steps to ensure that Social Security, which has been proven to be effective, is protected sufficiently.

For Medicare, I believe we need legislation that prevents the ‘‘Medicare Advantage” program from overpaying private insurance programs. At an average of 12% over traditional Medicare, these overpayments have shortened the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by two years. According to a Congressional Budget Office report, such legislation could help save $54 billion over five years and $150 billion over ten years. Medicare serves some of the most vulnerable members of our society and we must do all that we can to help sustain this critical program.

Q. Should SCHIP be expanded? If yes, how would you pay for an expansion? If no, how would you ensure that people who need health and dental care get it?

I believe that SCHIP should be expanded and funded by Congress reallocating funds from the War in Iraq and energy subsidies to health and dental care for children.

Q. What is your position on the death penalty?

I oppose the death penalty because of the proven fallibility of the system and the racial and other disparities in its application. Through my work as executive director of the Arca Foundation, I supported the work of nonprofit organizations in Maryland and around the country to end the application of the death penalty.

Q. What is your position on abortion?

I support the right of a woman to make independent and unfettered decisions about her own reproductive health as a fundamental human right that must be protected. I believe strongly that reproductive rights are inexorably linked to empowering women concerning other life choices that impact women’s lives, such as a woman’s ability to improve economic opportunities and education goals.

Q. Do you support same-sex marriage?

I support equal treatment and civil rights protections for all persons as a fundamental human right.

Q. Do you support the federal No Child Left Behind law?

Despite its flaws, the goals of No Child Left Behind may be met if corrective action is taken as soon as possible. This includes:

*Providing the necessary funding for NCLB to enable states and school systems to meet the goals contained within.

*Revising measurement techniques and frequency of adequate yearly progress for schools to allow for a more clear assessment of school performance and quality.

*Implementing measurements to assess progress and growth of each student to be able to track and address concerns on an individual basis.

Furthermore, it is critical that we provide funding to attract, train, and retain highly qualified teachers and support staff. We also need to properly invest in school improvement efforts (i.e., tools, materials, classroom resources) and student services to provide a quality education.

Q. What, if anything, should be done to assist homeowners at risk of losing their homes because of adjustable rate loans?

I would support efforts to crack down on predatory lending, place additional oversight on the mortgage lending industry, and provide homeowners with additional federal assistance.

We must start by scrapping the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 and passing new legislation that allows homeowners to negotiate their mortgages if they go into bankruptcy.

Q. Should slots be allowed in Prince George’s County? Should there be any form of gambling at National Harbor?

I oppose allowing slots and casino-type sharing in Prince George’s County and at National Harbor. We have made a multimillion-dollar investment of critical tax dollars in the National Harbor site and I believe that allowing gambling there would only serve to undermine this investment.

Q. Who should bear the costs of the changes wrought by BRAC?

While the BRAC process provides Maryland with a crucial opportunity for growth and economic development, it also could place a substantial financial strain on many communities. This is a financial burden that the federal government can and should help with. I will fight to increase federal funding for BRAC and other related expenses. I will also work to link the transportation infrastructure through expanded metrobus and metrorail services to contribute to the success of BRAC in Prince George’s County.

Q. What state transportation projects are a priority and how should we pay for them?

In the 4th District the two transportation projects that we need to develop is a Purple Line that links Eastern Montgomery County and College Park in the north and metrorail across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge that connects National Airport, Andrews Air Force Base and National Harbor in the south. These projects will help ease traffic congestion by increasing the use and versatility of public transportation and will improve local air quality. To say nothing of the fact that building, maintaining and running these projects will create thousands of new jobs in our district.

In order to pay for these projects Congress needs to reconfigure its budget priorities. For too long funding for public transportation projects, healthcare and the environment have taken a back seat to an Iraq War boondoggle, tax cuts for the wealthy and subsidies for fossil fuel industries. We must invest in public transportation to improve quality of life, environmental stewardship and economic prosperity.