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Baltimore must ‘ACT now’ to hold its elected leaders accountable | READER COMMENTARY

Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway, Sr., senior pastor of Union Baptist Church, looks through his family bible as he prepares for a sermon.
Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway, Sr., senior pastor of Union Baptist Church, looks through his family bible as he prepares for a sermon.(Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

As a person of faith, I find myself looking upon our beloved city and its current challenges and thinking back to the scripture of Mathew 5:12-16. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?"

For myself, and thousands of my brothers and sisters, one thing is clear: Our beloved city has lost its taste and needs seasoning. Trust in our local city government is at an all-time low, while crime on our city streets is at an all-time high. We are at a crossroads and the question is, how shall our city be saved?

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The answer? Us. We, the people. We are the salt, and it is up to us to restore our city for our families, our children and for our future. At the beginning of this year, I was proud to start an organization called ACT Now Baltimore that is focused on bringing accountability, credibility and transparency to our city government and elected officials and pushing a “people first” platform. As part of this work, we have hit the city streets to talk to everyday residents about the importance of voting based on accountability, credibility and transparency, as well as collecting survey information to determine if residents believe our city government and elected officials are working in their best interest.

The results thus far have been striking. Among some of the findings, 80.6% believe that our city school system is not adequate in helping our children succeed for the future. About 85% believe our city officials need to do a better job in making our city safe and to end the violence terrorizing our city, and over 92% believe that we need new leadership that is accountable, credible and transparent. We have reached a critical point where distrust in government has led people to begin to not believe they have the power to change things. We have become disconnected as well as disinterested, maybe even disgusted, with the status quo.

ACT Now Baltimore will build a web of relationships built upon collective power by instituting the three R’s of community organizing: recognition, respect and relationships. It’s clear that the people of Baltimore must play a role in restoring our city for all of us. But when looking at who will be our partners in this “restoration for all,” we must ask ourselves the question: Do we choose the same partners of lifelong politicians that have let Baltimore’s current problems, crime and crisis go on and on? Or is it time to look toward new leaders and new thinkers who are committed to being change agents in our communities and who will pledge to hold themselves accountable, credible and transparent?

I, for one, will choose the latter and ask my fellow citizens to join me. It’s time to make our voices heard and be counted at the polls. It’s time to restore Baltimore for all of us. Baltimore needs us now more than ever. As the election nears, we will be ramping up our people powered campaign and I ask you to join me by getting involved with ACT Now Baltimore. You can do so by visiting www.actnowbaltmore.com.

Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway, Sr., Baltimore

The writer is senior pastor at Union Baptist Church and chairperson of Act Now Baltimore.

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