Voter guide: Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Mayor, Baltimore City

Bernard C. Jack Young

Democratic candidate for Baltimore City Mayor

Age 65

Residence N Central Ave, East Baltimore neighborhood

Occupation 51st Mayor of Baltimore

Education Dunbar High School

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Previous political experience

Baltimore City Council 1997-2010; President of the Baltimore City Council 2010-2019

Why are you running for office?

I go to bed every night and wake up every morning, trying to figure out what I can do to make Baltimore a better place to live. I have a proven record of steady, progressive leadership improving the lives of the people here. My overall vision is to invest in our youth, reduce crime and clean up the city.


How do you assess the current police commissioner’s performance and the department’s approach to fighting violent crime, specifically murder?

Under my leadership, crime is down in every category. The commissioner has made great strides in reducing crime and bringing accountability and transparency to our police department.

My goal is to reduce crime with a comprehensive approach. Investing in our youth, rebuilding communities, and increasing support for job training facilities are key to reducing crime in Baltimore.

I have a comprehensive crime reduction plan that is focused on stopping violence now, and it will continue the type of forward-thinking leadership I provided in the past, when I led the call back in 2014, as City Council President, to outfit BPD officers with body cameras.

My plan includes more and better training for our officers, but it also includes the creation of a re-entry welcome center for returning citizens that will help them find jobs and provide holistic and wrap-around services to lower the considerable barriers that they often face to finding jobs, housing, and becoming engaged and productive members of our communities.

The strategy uses a data driven approach that established new focused patrol areas and activity zones where the level of crime is highest. These micro-targeted areas and zones represent over a third of all gun related incidents have occurred since 2015. My comprehensive violence reduction strategy focuses on five key areas: Prevention, Intervention, Enforcement, Rehabilitation, and Re-Entry.

Squeegee Kids

How would you address the issue of squeegee kids in the city’s intersections?

In response to the presence of squeegee workers, I tasked Tisha Edwards, who serves as the director of the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success, (MOCFS) with developing a comprehensive strategy to help transition our young people from working at dangerous intersections to more sustainable opportunities for employment and mentorship.

The plan encourages meaningful work through a transitional jobs/earn-as-you-grow program to provide immediate financial relief to the youth, made possible with the help of community partners.

We hired squeegee workers to help distribute food during this pandemic. We have also hired two full-time staff members to lead outreach and recruitment of youth who squeegee into the MOCFS Connect-2-Success program to provide support for the young people.

They are also leading the effort to remove employment barriers, by ensuring youth have the necessary identification and vital records to enroll in school and/or to get a job. In addition, school-aged youth are referred to Baltimore City Public Schools for intensive support, including a mandatory Student Support Team meeting and review of the student’s current school placement to ensure it supports his or her individual academic needs. And finally, in a limited fashion, we will deploy bike patrol police officers to the locations where there are the most reported complaints with the goal of ensuring the safety of commuters and the young people who earn money by squeegeeing.


What strategies would you pursue to reduce drug addiction and associated ills, such as overdose deaths and crime?

In the short term, treatment on demand. In the long term, we are looking at the total family, and the barriers in those families. We are looking at why kids aren’t going to school, and getting parents who are using drugs into treatment. Drug use affects the whole family. We need to connect the dots between social services, the school system, and job training, to ultimately try to figure out how we heal our families. If we do that, we can drive crime down in our city.


How do you propose Baltimore pay for its expected share of the Kirwan education commission ?

I was the first elected official in this race to say that I am all in for Kirwan. Our children represent the best of us, and they deserve the best from us. Throughout my career in public service, providing opportunities to young people has been a passion and a priority for me.

I am actively working to cut down on police overtime. It is a part of my overall plan to increase accountability and transparency in the police department. Overtime cost the department nearly $50 million in the past fiscal year alone.

We have implemented a new system, so that overtime is more closely monitored and regulated. This will help lower the police budget.

Economic Development

What are the overlooked opportunities for economic development and job creation in Baltimore, and how will you encourage their implementation?

Flourishing communities start with our small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy and hire local residents. Creating jobs and connecting people with jobs is the stepping stone to so many other improvements in our communities, whether that’s reducing crime or keeping kids in schools.

We want to drive development into neighborhoods that haven’t seen it.

We are doing major development across the city, including mixed income and affordable unit developments.


Baltimore faces multiple environmental problems, from lead in school water fountains to sewage overflows to illegal dumping sites to Wheelabrator emissions. What are your environmental priorities for the city, and what steps would you take to address them?

Zero waste is a vision I have for this city. We have a long way to get there. But I am actively doing the things whether through legislation or my executive power to lead Baltimore down that path.

As Mayor, I fought for and signed legislation that bans retailers’ use of plastic bags starting next year. I am proud to be leading the way in creating cleaner neighborhoods and waterways. My Clean it Up! Campaign is my effort to clean up this city from the trash in our streets to the trash in our harbor and I am providing the resources to accomplish this.

As Mayor, I launched a new campaign in September to try to get more children tested for lead. Just over 50 percent of the City’s children between the ages of one and two have been tested for it. We believe that testing for half our children is not enough so we are renewing our commitment and increasing our testing numbers.


What transportation strategies would you pursue to help city residents access jobs?

I fully support the creation of a regional transit authority. We need to connect with our surrounding jurisdictions and access all of what this region has to offer. Workers in the city, that live in the county, and vice versa, would be better served with a regional transit authority. I support anything that alleviates traffic and helps people get from point A to point B. I was a supporter of the proposed red line, which could be run by a regional transit authority, similar to WMATA. I am actively leading the implementation of the Complete Streets Model. I was a strong advocate for Complete Streets as City Council President. This will improve our local transit and the overall health of our communities.

Our Dockless scooter program is one of the best programs in the country and I will continue to support it.

I am investing in bike infrastructure, and I am committed to making neighborhoods more walkable.

We are looking at ways to increase service for our local transit. We are increasing reliability with the existing Charm City Circulator, the Water Taxi, as well as the Harbor connector.

I have invested in new Charm City Circulator busses and I am lobbying our state government for more MTA funding so that MTA busses, that so many people rely on, work timely and efficiently.

I am leading to get pedestrian and traffic deaths down to zero, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.


What can the city do to encourage the development of more affordable housing?

We want to drive development into neighborhoods that haven’t seen it. We are doing major development across the city, including mixed income and affordable unit developments.

Thriving communities depend on, and in fact are defined by, affordable housing.

I support a number of measures to reduce evictions in Baltimore City, including potential rent stabilization and just-cause eviction legislation.

We’re using the Neighborhood Impact Investment Fund and Affordable Housing Fund to develop and direct resources and investments to the areas of our city that haven’t seen it in decades. New developments must include employment opportunities for city residents, increased affordable housing and the inclusion of qualified minority-owned firms on city-supported developments.


What is your view of the city’s use of tax increment financing, payments in lieu of taxes and other incentives to encourage developments like Harbor Point?

We cannot raise taxes, I am focused on a tax structure that best serves Baltimore, as well as delivering quality city services that make our residents feel like their tax dollars are working in the best way they can. It is imperative people feel like their tax dollars are being put to good use.

The use of TIF’s always depends on the project in question. Tax increment financing is typically reserved for projects for which other funding isn't available. We have an obligation to leverage our public-private partnerships to bring in development dollars and ease the tax burden on our residents.

Neighborhood Revitalization

What can Baltimore do to encourage commercial and residential revitalization in neighborhoods away from the waterfront?

I played a big role to implement the Neighborhood Impact Investment Fund and Affordable Housing Fund to develop and direct resources and investments to the areas of our city that haven’t seen it in decades. Investing in our schools and redicung crime will go a long way to change this. Once people feel safe and that they can give their children a world class education with art, music, and physical education, in their community school our neighborhoods will thrive.


How will you improve efficiency and effectiveness in city government and encourage transparency and accountability in its operation?

Honesty and transparency are core values of my administration. These are values in which I have a prven record.

I can’t think of anyone better for this job than someone who’s spent his whole life working to make our great city, a home to clean and healthy communities with equitable neighborhood development.

I will continue being a change agent to improve the lives of the people here. That includes increasing water affordability, bringing new levels of transparency to government, making recreation centers open on weekends, and passing the first Children and Youth Fund to improve the lives of our kids.

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