My goal is that we will no longer be a city where your ZIP code determines your future. According to Maryland Department of Legislative Services figures, Baltimore City currently spends less than 15% of its budget on education compared to a statewide average of 36%; that is unacceptable. We need to reprioritize education, and that is not simply putting more money into the school system so it can be wasted. We first would need to evaluate what we are spending on and whether it is working or not:
What are the overlooked opportunities for economic development and job creation in Baltimore, and how will you encourage their implementation?
We need economic development and job creation without gentrification across all sectors of industry. I would use the resources of Section III and Opportunity Zones to create entrepreneurial opportunities getting our abandoned properties back on the books and creating a low income home ownership model to allow families to stay in the City and invest in their own communities.
This is the opportunity to engage HBCUs to position the schools and the City to make full use of the wealth of educational institutions and groom the next generation of thought leaders to move our city forward specific to greener-cleaner energy, technology, and health innovations.
Also, I would:
- Phase in a tax reduction to bring us in line with the national averages, at the same time diligently work to improve the business climate to offset the difference and set us on a path of growth
- Remove TIFs
- Get abandoned properties redeveloped and back on the books
- Offer school vouchers to attract families
- Exert solid, steady leadership to stabilize Baltimore City government and create a culture of integrity, transparency, and efficiency while removing the red tape for business creation, development, and growth
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?
We have had a long-standing problem in the city with inequity regarding the City’s culpability in several of the detrimental determinants to health and general well-being in our city. We must address issues of lead, food insecurity, and the impact of trauma at a minimum. The folks that live here are the heartbeat of the City, and right now our leadership is failing to care for that heart. We need to get the lead out, we need to increase our green canopy through not just trees but with urban farming, and we need to get our youth involved.
I will also address the environment, climate justice, and the climate crisis locally, including not only reducing/eliminating greenhouse gas emissions within the City, but also protecting the people and infrastructure from the environmental impact. I would look to see all available data so that we can properly address the problems and create a real plan with measurable outcomes.
I will work to enforce legislation for greater corporate responsibility. I will work to create a robust urban farming industry in our city. This will help reduce negative health factors and create jobs for our youth.
What transportation strategies would you pursue to help city residents access jobs?
I absolutely support enhanced investment in transportation infrastructure provided we have a thorough analysis and it is structured in the best interest of all the residents. I also think it is important to create a regional authority to oversee the transit network.
What can the city do to encourage the development of more affordable housing?
We would get our abandoned properties back on the books using a Habitat for Humanity low-income homeownership model. By doing this we are removing blight, creating jobs, and increasing a sense of pride and ownership in our communities through redevelopment without gentrification. This will also inevitably lower crime rates throughout the city.
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?
Again, economic development without gentrification. I would call for a moratorium on development for any entity that is not willing to develop projects for areas away from the waterfront that are geared to the City’s current residents. I would phase out incentives that don’t make fiscal sense for the City at this time.
What can Baltimore do to encourage commercial and residential revitalization in neighborhoods away from the waterfront?
We need to partner with our local schools, colleges, and universities to promote local talent to partner with leadership to create a campaign to clean and beautify our city. We need to prioritize making our city look and feel like a place we can all be proud to call home. This will include community cleanups sponsored by City Council in partnership with community associations. We will require City Council to perform quarterly State of the District reports so that problems can be addressed in a more timely and effective manner for residents of all parts of our city.
We will also include:
- Community art
- Community centers and recreation
- Beautification of streets and neighborhoods
- Improving infrastructure
- Trash pickup and recycling
How will you improve efficiency and effectiveness in city government and encourage transparency and accountability in its operation?
I would start with the Board of Estimates as it is dysfunctional. Under the board’s current composition, the two mayoral appointees are too close to the Mayor. These are folks who should be objective and not mouthpieces for the Mayor. There needs to be a selection process. Also, the City Solicitor should only be on the board as an ex-officio member, not a voting member. I would also ask the resignation of every department head, then ask if they would like to re-apply, then ask what they intend to do differently to fulfill their mission mandate.
- Every agency would be expected to reveal monthly what it spent and on what and how that improved the lives of Baltimore City residents
- A thorough and sifting analysis of the City’s procurement process
- Every quarter, the City’s head of finance would be required to give a State of the City address in Education, Finance, Mayoral, and Board of Estimates.