Baltimore is on the verge of a major renaissance. Throughout the First District, we can see clear signs of a city on the rise: through recent improvements to Patterson Park and the promenade, as well as our incredible restaurants, amazing museums, and theaters - it is clear we are becoming a truly world-class city. Yet to reach our full potential, we must directly confront the obstacles that continue to hold us back. As your City Councilman, I will work tirelessly on the following issues facing the First District:
Expand Access to Early Childhood Education
The First District has become home to an increasing number of young families. Yet despite the high property taxes, we are failing to provide these families with adequate early childhood education options. Too many parents face the untenable choice of having to give up their career and stay home with their children or pay unreasonable daycare costs. Research has consistently shown that investing in early childhood education generates significant economic growth. High quality early childhood education programs close the academic achievement gap, reduce incarceration rates and welfare dependency, and dramatically increase academic outcomes across racial and socioeconomic demographics. I will work to increase access to pre-Kindergarten for families in the First District, making staying in and moving to Baltimore an attractive option for families.
Baltimore needs to get its fiscal house in order. Despite legislation demanding fiscal and performance audits, the City has continuously delayed and muddled the process. Tax payers have a right to know how our money is being spent. I will demand immediate annual audits of every city agency. When I served as the Executive Director of a non profit, my organization was audited every year. If I misspent or lost money, I risked losing our 501(c)(3) license. Yet, our three billion dollar city budget does not face this level of scrutiny. As your representative, I will bring fiscal discipline to the City Council and demand that our money is well-spent and fully accounted for.
Create More Job Opportunities
I believe that the lack of job opportunities in Baltimore directly spurs crime and social-dysfunction. Yet, the rapid growth of development in the First District presents a unique opportunity for local hiring. I will work with partners in the private sector, non-profits, and the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development to make sure residents have the first shot at new job opportunities. I will also focus on improving job options for young people who are at risk of dropping out of school and getting involved in crime if they cannot find work. Last year, researchers found that a youth summer jobs program in Chicago reduced violent crime within the sample population by 43%. I will work to strengthen and expand Baltimore’s summer “Youth Works,” and “Hire One Youth” programs. Currently, I am working with a coalition of community partners to improve hiring and job skills training for young people in Southeast Baltimore.
Support Small Businesses
I believe that small businesses are the backbone of our economy. The First District is home to vibrant restaurants, boutiques, farmers markets, and more. Yet, many of our small businesses are struggling under the weight of excessive taxation and fees. I will work to reduce some of the fees on small businesses and offer incentives to businesses that hire locally. I will also work hard to promote and connect the many small businesses of the first district.
Improve Health Outcomes
Despite having some of the world's greatest hospitals, Baltimore's population is disturbingly unhealthy. Preventable diseases like heart failure, malnutrition and diabetes lead to shortened life expectancies and increase the financial burden on taxpayers. I will improve health outcomes in the First District by increasing walkability through green space, improving public transit, expanding access to fresh healthy food, and encouraging hospitals like Johns Hopkins Bayview to be better community partners by encouraging preventive health practices.
Encourage Community Policing
Cities like Boston have made incredible strides in reducing violent crime thanks to their focus on community policing. Yet, in Baltimore, too many residents feel estranged from our police. In order to reduce crime and violence within our community, we must rebuild trust between the police and the citizens they are here to serve. I will encourage positive engagement through increased foot patrols. I will offer opportunities for citizen and police collaboration through “Cop Walks,” “Ride Alongs,” and more public safety meetings. We all have a role to play in keeping our city safe.