Maryland's candidates for governor face off in FOX 5 forum

Election day is a couple weeks away and in Maryland, all eyes are on the governor's race. The Democratic nominee Wes Moore and the Republican nominee Dan Cox both agreed to participate in a special forum with FOX 5 in a separated format. 

During the FOX 5 exclusive gubernatorial forum, each candidate was asked the same questions. Some inquiries came from viewers, others were crafted by FOX 5. The candidates spoke openly about violent crime in Maryland, protecting transgender youth rights, schools, and more. 

Maryland 2022 Election Guide: Where to vote and how to register

Find out where Cox and Moore stand on the issues below: 

What would you do to support police departments and reduce violent crime? 

Maryland residents have expressed ongoing concerns about violent crime. From carjackings to robberies and shootings, Moore and Cox both want to put an end to the chaos. Moore believes he will have the support of the police officers who have endorsed him as governor. He said that he wants to address the root causes of crime such as education, housing, economic growth, and development. Cox accused Moore of wanting to defend the police and putting money into a social welfare budget. He said he plans to fund police departments and help them hire more officers to bring safety back to the state. 

What do you think is the biggest priority facing Maryland schools right now, and what is your plan to address it? 

Cox and Moore have different strategies on how to turn Maryland's schools into a world-class education system. Cox said that he wants to expand the boost program and expand school choice, and mentioned that Moore stands in opposition to that. The Republican nominee also said he will eliminate the "divisive curriculum" that consists of teaching gender identity politics from pre-k on up. Moore wants kids in the state to start school earlier. He's a proponent of having pre-K for every single child in need and wants to create better pathways to be able to both recruit and retain educators in Maryland classrooms. 

Cindy in Takoma Park: "I wonder how the governors feel about protecting trans youth rights?" 

The Democratic nominee answered this question about transgender rights for youth by speaking directly to who it involves. 

"To all of our trans youth out there, I see you and I hear you, and I am excited to be your governor too," Moore said. 

He talked about his own son and daughter and how important it is to him for them to feel protected everywhere they go. Cox used the question to clarify his stance on transgender rights. The Republican nominee said that his issue is with educators who "indoctrinate our children" with gender ideology — not with trans students themselves. 

The State of Maryland has racked up a $2 billion surplus – 20% higher than expected. How should that money be spent? 

The candidates sparred over how much money is in Maryland's budget and in the state's treasury. Cox said that projections show Maryland's treasury having over $2 billion. He said that money should be coming back to small businesses in the state and to job creators and employees.

 "That's your money. I'm going to send it back to you," Cox said. 

Moore, on the other hand, is concerned about how the surplus money is invested, not how it's spent. He spoke about investing that money to create the largest societal return on investment. 

"We can create an economy that works for everybody," Moore said. 

As governor, would you work to strike a deal to keep the Commanders in Maryland despite owner Daniel Snyder being investigated by both Congress and the NFL? 

The Washington Commanders currently play in Landover, Maryland but the team is reportedly looking to build a new stadium in either D.C., Maryland or Virginia. For the Baltimore-bred Democratic candidate, this issue is personal. Moore said that he has family members who are Commanders fans, and he wants the team to stay in Maryland. He also wants to make sure that the conversation around keeping the team in Maryland should also be about creating economic growth and economic development. 

While Cox wants the Commanders to continue playing in Maryland, he said he doesn't want to weigh in on the topic without examining the issues and bringing the stakeholders to the table. 

"We don’t need to continue a process of increasing taxation on our businesses and chasing away our sports teams," Cox said.

Do you think the U.S. Supreme Court was correct in overturning Roe v. Wade? As governor what steps would you take as Maryland moves forward into a post-Roe future? 

The U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade this year has put the abortion issue in the hands of state governments. Pro Choice America lists Maryland as a state that has protected access to abortion.

"I am pro-life, and I always will be pro-life," Cox said. 

The Republican nominee believes that the SCOTUS decision isn't impacting Maryland politics because it has returned power back to the people in the state. He said he wants to expand opportunities in healthcare for women and protect "all of our communities." 

Moore was critical of the Supreme Court's ruling. 

"All they did was rob millions of women in this country from healthcare. I believe that abortion is healthcare, and I believe, and I know that in our time in our administration we will ensure that Maryland will be a safe haven for abortion rights," Moore said.

Do you support the approved current version of the plan to expand I-270 and the American Legion Bridge, and would the construction proceed under your administration? 

The federal government approved Governor Larry Hogan's plan to build express toll lanes on traffic-clogged I-270 and a new American Legion Bridge. The next governor has the final say on the estimated $4 billion dollar project. 

Moore said that congestion along 270 is causing a "psychological and environmental economic impact on our state." He wants to fix the American Legion bridge over the next decade, and called it "unsafe" in its current state. 

Cox claims he does not believe in raising tolls and taxes. He said that his administration will lower taxes, and ensure that all tolls and fees are looked at from a perspective of making sure that people in Maryland are not "fleeced by the government." 

"I think we need to do what the constitution says and that is to allow the expansion of our transportation," Cox added.

Chuck in Frederick: "I would ask them about the integrity of the last election and facts related to the results?"

Marylanders are curious whether the candidates will honor the results of the election once the votes are counted. Cox disputed the 2020 presidential election results – on behalf of Donald Trump. He said that election integrity is "crucial" and that he's worked to make sure that audits are done when applicable. 

Moore said that he is thankful that the State of Maryland has had fair and transparent elections. 

"I believe deeply that those election results need to be respected and honored. It’s an important part of our nation's fabric," Moore said. "And I honor and respect the results of the 2020 election. I look forward to honoring and respecting the results of the 2022 election." 

Kerry in Hyattsville: "We see you during election time. Will we see you after you get elected? Will you actually be active out in the community showing and doing what you promised?

Both candidates have spent the last few months campaigning throughout the state, and voters are curious whether the person who is elected governor will remain hands on and visible. Moore responded to the question by telling voters to get used to seeing him in their communities. 

"I have been able to be successful because I’ve done my work in and with communities. And that’s exactly how I plan on governing," Moore said. 

Cox, who is a Hyattsville native, said he believes that all communities should have "the voice they need in the State House in Annapolis." The current state delegate said he intends to represent Marylanders and fight for their issues, but didn't elaborate on whether he'd actually be physically active in their neighborhoods.   

Bonus Question 1: As governor, do you have a plan to fix the affordable housing crisis? 

The national low-income housing coalition lists Maryland as the 8th most expensive housing market in the country - and the D.C. suburbs as the most expensive in the state. 

Both candidates recognize people are impacted by the lack of affordable housing. Cox stated that "it's only getting worse because of the inflationary property tax." He also said he would "audit the system." Moore reflected on his time leading Robin Hood foundation and that the "leading cause of poverty and economic insecurity is housing insecurity" and pledged to work with local jurisdictions to address zoning laws and zoning platforms. 

Bonus Question 2: Do you believe having police officers in schools increases school safety and what would you do as Governor to support your position? 

A 15-year old was shot inside a Montgomery County High School this year and there was a gun scare at a different school just last month. 

On this topic, Moore said that "I don't believe that our schools need to be armed, yet at the same time I also understand that we have got to do a better job of creating safe environments for all of our children." As for Cox, he said in relation to his role on the judiciary committee: "I’ve put bills in and supported the passage of bills to expand our SRO’s in schools and make sure we harden up our schools."

For complete coverage of the 2022 elections in Maryland, Virginia, D.C. and the 2022 Midterm Elections across the country, visit FOX 5 DC's Election page.