I am not from Baltimore originally, but have chosen to make Baltimore my home and raise my family here. When asked where I am from, I typically say Baltimore, as it is the place where I have spent the majority of my life. I have been moving in and out of the city for 25 years, and something always brings me home.
I fell in love with this city in 1987 when I moved here to go to college at Maryland Institute College of Art. I thrived in the creative art community and worked my way through college waiting tables. I loved the small town feel with great city amenities such as restaurants, museums and theater. I was unaffected by politics and the state of the city at that point in my life. After leaving (and coming back) many times, I was never back long enough to fully understand how much the leadership during the 1990s was not improving the city. Perhaps in hindsight, that is why I kept leaving.
I moved back in 2005 fully committed to stay. As a middle class voter, I was again, so I thought, relatively unaffected by how our struggling city was shaped by our leaders. Clearly I was wrong. Yes, Martin O'Malley did some good things. However, since his departure there has been no succession plan, no true leader.
Now steps forward Otis Rolley.
Great leaders, great visionaries, and great thinkers are few and far between. These people are community-driven, neighborhood-driven and, first and foremost, people-driven. They don't accept the status-quo. They have a clear vision of where to go, how to get there and what it looks like on the other side. A leader will share this vision with their followers, their supporters and families.
The vision is articulate. The vision is relentless. The vision is real.
Baltimore has yearned for this visionary for over 20 years and while previous administrations have tried and succeeded in varying degrees, the city has remained at a standstill. Continued population decline, failing schools and high crime plague our city, and our leaders past and present are obviously failing at turning around our (internal and external) image as a great place to live.
Baltimore's greatest asset is its people, yet we are not paid attention to. Perhaps that is why so many are leaving. Yet despite our current leadership, it is to paraphrase a friend, a place where people count on each other like men in a foxhole, a place where family and friends always come first and people hang on to their traditions.
Otis Rolley gets all this plain and simple. He is a born leader, not a politician. He understands the value of hard work. He understands that the people of Baltimore make Baltimore and he understands what to do about it. Leaders like Mr. Rolley are inspiring to all of us, even if some his views differ from yours or mine.
I believe that Mr. Rolley has the vision, the thought and the ability to lead this city to greatness, and I will be proud to vote for him on Sept. 13.
Kelly Rosenberg, Baltimore