I am often asked why I gave up a secure seat in the Baltimore City Council, if any elective office can be considered secure, to run for president of the Baltimore City Council in a highly competitive race.
First of all I believe that public service is a high calling, especially in times of crisis. Baltimore is in the midst of a momentous crisis in public safety, education and economic development.
The fear of crime lowers community participation, diminishes economic development and saps the optimism and confidence of the citizens.
As a member of the City Council, I took the lead on this issue when members of the administration and some of my own colleagues shrugged their shoulders and said that the spiraling crime rate and the appalling murder rate were just signs of the times in America. I said we must take bold and decisive action, and if that means shaking up the police bureaucracy then so be it.
After listening to complaints from citizens and experiencing the deafening noise of dirt bikes in the middle of the night in my own community, I sponsored legislation in the City Council that was signed into law regulating these bikes that were never meant to ride through urban streets.
I worked to pass a curfew law in Baltimore that would satisfy scrutiny by the courts because our young people need to be supervised by adults if they are going to be out late at night.
This legislation was not written in the abstract. I have walked the streets and met the people where their problems are most acute.
It is my belief that the children of Baltimore can be educated as well as those in other jurisdictions if we use our resources more effectively and we raise the expectations for teachers, administrators, parents and students. We can do better and we must do better. It takes bold, decisive and far-sighted leadership to turn this educational crisis around, and it also demands the unflinching exercise of the City Council's oversight responsibilities.
I believe that we can reverse the erosion of the city's job base and its population exodus. We know why people and jobs leave, and it is merely a question of having the will and the imagination to bring jobs to the city that pay a decent wage.
It will take the talent and imagination of a broad cross-section of people to get the job done, and the president of the City Council, as a member of the Board of Estimates and its presiding officer, should be a major player in revitalizing the city's economy.
As an eight-year veteran of the council who has exercised leadership on the Public Safety Committee and the Executive Appointments Committee that has interviewed all persons appointed to major boards, commissions and executive department jobs, I have a wide knowledge of the functions of all aspects of city government.
I have the experience to confront tough issues and the idealism necessary to believe that Baltimore can be revitalized and our problems addressed in effective ways to benefit all the people of this great city.