Baltimore communities face a unique set of challenges that are complex and intersectional. To address these challenges — like crime, poverty, access to education, affordable housing, and transportation –, we need an equally unique, collaborative, cross-sectional, and evidence-based approach. We must address the root causes of these systemic issues and commit to long-term, sustainable solutions. Environmental sustainability and job creation must be at the heart of this approach.
An Inclusive and Vibrant Economic Future
It has been nearly a decade since our region has been home to a Fortune 500 company. As our education system fails to meet its potential in delivering a qualified workforce, college tuition costs continue to soar, job-training programs lag, and crime rates continue to make national news. As a result, for the first time since 1910, Baltimore’s population has fallen below 600,000 residents.
Yet, in Baltimore’s not-to-distant past, we were a leading manufacturing and innovation hub. We were home to well-paying jobs that were accessible and sustainable. We must recommit to sustainably growing our employment base and creating living-wage, foundational jobs for families.
Today, we are one of America’s fastest-growing technology industry hubs. We have a tremendous opportunity to attract new residents to our city with 21st-century jobs while continuing to revitalize former industrial spaces with commercial and residential redevelopments that maintain the charm and history of our past. At the same time, we must encourage career revitalization pathways and provide accessible job training resources.
For Baltimore to remain the economic and cultural hub of Maryland, we must do more to grow our city, attract employers, and train and retain workers.
As Delegate, I will:
- Support state-backed job training and digital literacy programs to prepare Baltimore workers for the future.
- Leverage our existing resources to encourage investment into former industrial spaces or buildings that are no longer utilized for their previous purpose.
- Support policies that invest in the emergent biomedical and technology industries in our city and facilitate job growth in our communities
Protect and Empower Small Businesses
In District 46, I have had the honor of representing several of our local businesses and, as someone that ran a law firm for several years and managed all day to day operations of the business, I know what it takes to successfully manage a business. As Delegate, I will continue to approach our collective challenges and opportunities with a small-business mindset: creativity, perseverance, and prudence.
As Delegate, I will:
- Ensure Maryland small businesses receive the support and resources they need to survive through and thrive beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Advocate for entrepreneurship incentives and business support for employers that commit to keep their business in Maryland and to hire locally.
- Provide support for local governments and nonprofits to establish co-working spaces, small business incubators, and maker spaces.
- Create legal aid resources for small businesses starting in Maryland and expedite business permitting.
- Create public/private partnerships focused on increasing investment opportunities in the small business sector, low interest/no penalty bridge financing loans, and short-term/low-risk leasing opportunities for businesses in growth mode.
- Support infrastructure investments that connect our communities and provide consistent foot-traffic for storefronts.
It is incumbent upon each of us to understand the tremendous, collective impact of our everyday actions on the environment. And our leaders must do more to educate communities, facilitate behavior change, and provide access to information and resources that promote environmental resilience. There are many things we can do to change our daily habits – with limited inconvenience – to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay and the quality of our air and to reduce the amount of waste we produce.
As Delegate, I will:
- Support a statewide container deposit law, which would create a $.05 refundable deposit on certain beverage containers, an effort proven to improve recycling rates and provide the state with new revenues to reinvest back into our environment.
- Support efforts to make returning beverage containers as convenient as possible, like creating grants to bring reverse vending machines to communities and gathering places.
- Develop state incentives for municipal-sponsored composting programs and other zero waste initiatives.
- Work to increase recycling rates with greater access to recycling bins, education, and curbside pick-up.
Waste and Air Pollution
We must address Baltimore’s waste problem with solutions that do not worsen our air quality. One area of waste that seems ripe for improvement is organic waste. Organic waste (food and yard waste) comprises 20% of our city’s waste but we do not have a government-sponsored composting program for residents. Studies have shown that our organic waste footprint has the greatest potential for diversion, reducing the amount of trash sent to Wheelabrator and Quarantine Road. Additionally, we must create incentives to diversify the city and region’s trash sites, as it is unfair for one area to bear all of the costs of addressing waste.
As Delegate, I will:
- Promote innovative technologies like anaerobic digestion facilities that allow us to divert unavoidable waste from landfills and incinerators and reduce our carbon footprint.
- End renewable energy subsidies to trash incinerators.
- Engage with the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) to identify sites in the region that could serve as composting centers and expedite MDE’s permitting process.
- Create an incentive program to diversify regional landfill locations, requiring a portion of any state funding committed to expanding the Quarantine Road Landfill be used instead to fund this program.
- Implore the State of Maryland to join the Transportation & Climate Initiative of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States, which offers the potential to fund clean energy and transportation projects in south Baltimore.
Neighborhood Improvement Funds
Since the 1970s, Baltimore has funneled development to Downtown and the Inner Harbor. Many of these projects, like Harborplace and Camden Yards, helped put Baltimore back on the map and drew national and international acclaim during their time. However, Baltimoreans of every stripe know that it is our neighborhoods that put the charm in Charm City. We must reimagine urban policies to promote sustainable, healthy, and clean neighborhoods that attract new residents and encourage families to stay in Baltimore City. Too many neighborhoods in Baltimore lack adequate access to grocery stores, reliable and affordable transportation, and even clean air.
While promoting the importance of Downtown as the business, cultural, and tourism hub of our city, we must better leverage tools like Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to promote an outside-in approach to city planning. The State of Maryland should encourage these efforts by creating programs and neighborhood financing authorities to address blight, food deserts, and other challenges that impact Baltimore City’s desirability.
As Delegate, I will:
- Work with my Baltimore City colleagues to examine Tax Increment Financing and determine whether reforms are needed to ensure financing is available for the revitalization of Baltimore City’s neighborhoods.
- Require a study by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development on existing programs like Project C.O.R.E. and Local Government Infrastructure Financing to identify potential program gaps and recommend policy changes that could serve to enhance neighborhood redevelopment.
- Authorize funding for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to create a food desert program, allowing the State of Maryland to incentivize and encourage accessible and healthy food options for every Baltimore resident.