In Baltimore, the zip code in which a child is born is most often the determining factor in their future health, education, and career outcomes. As a young immigrant, I was fascinated and allured by America’s promise of equal opportunity for all. For too many in Baltimore, that promise does not exist. We must do more to address the systemic inequities and injustices that have created two Baltimores: the haves and the have nots. We must provide a high-quality education for every child, ensure housing and food security for low-income residents, reform our broken criminal justice system and make certain that every resident has access to quality, affordable healthcare. This starts with improving education outcomes across our public schools.
A High-Quality Education for Every Student
Compared to other large cities and urban areas across the United States – and other jurisdictions across Maryland – Baltimore’s children are falling behind their peers. Our city has some of the oldest school buildings in the state; many low-income high school students must travel more than an hour, often in unsafe conditions, to get to school; in-school primary and mental health care services are insufficient; and our teachers and staff are lacking the tools to adequately do their jobs.
Our education system is in desperate need of transformative change. We must boldly invest in our facilities and teachers immediately. In the 2021 session of Maryland’s General Assembly, the legislature overrode Governor Hogan’s veto of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, allowing us to move forward with Kirwan Commission recommendations that will provide the focus and funding to create an equitable, world-class instructional system.
As Delegate, I will:
- Champion efforts to sustainably fund and implement Kirwan Commission recommendations.
- Ensure the 21st Century School Buildings Program is fully funded and potentially expanded to address aging school infrastructure.
- Advocate for an elected Baltimore City School Board to ensure more accountability.
- Increase funding for full wrap-around services including pre-school, after-school, and sports and recreation opportunities for our students.
Criminal Justice Reform
Our criminal justice system is failing black and brown communities. In 2018, the Justice Policy Institute found that more than 70% of Maryland’s prison population was black, more than double the national average. The countless stories and experiences of black Baltimoreans who experience negative outcomes with law enforcement, often for no other reason than the color of their skin, are unacceptable. The City of Baltimore is under a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice because of a failing City Police Department that systemically violates the constitutional protections and due process rights of Baltimoreans. This system is not defensible and contributes to the racial disparities that exist in our communities.
We have also not done enough to address the critical intersection of incarceration, mental health, and addiction. Too often, we incarcerate, rather than treat those in crisis, exacerbating the social and economic forces that contribute to incarceration and widening gaps in equity and opportunity for those most in need among us.
We must do more to bring more accountability to our police department while providing officers with the tools, education, support, and resources they need to best protect the communities they serve.
As Delegate, I will:
- Prioritize policies that build off of Attorney General Frosh’s reforms to the cash bail system.
- Support reform of mandatory minimums.
- Reevaluate the criminalization of certain drugs.
- Ensure we are spending as much energy and resources on rehabilitation as we are on incarceration.
Community Benefits Agreements
Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) are an often necessary tool for ensuring equitable urban and land use policy that aligns community needs and goals with development project deliverables. These agreements provide a framework for engagement between developers and impacted communities to ensure partnership, job creation, and hyper-local reinvestment.
In the 46th District, the CBA agreed upon between Port Covington and impacted communities provided tremendous benefits for South Baltimore communities in Brooklyn, Cherry Hill, Curtis Bay, Lakeland, Mt. Winans, and Westport, including commitments to affordable housing, investments in park and recreation spaces, and a $50 million commitment from the developer to support local and citywide initiatives.
We should encourage a rethinking and reimagining of our former industrial and underutilized spaces, like Port Covington, and continue to demand direct benefits for proximate communities impacted by development.
As Delegate, I will:
- Strengthen the legal authority and underpinning of CBAs to ensure they cannot be overturned because of a lack of standing in court.
- Create enforcement mechanisms within CBAs to ensure communities have the tools they need to protect hard-won benefits.
- Ensure that as our district grows, enforceable and impactful CBAs are commonplace with new development.