By Salima Marriott, Special to the AFRO
Tom Perez is no stranger to Baltimore. For seven years, Tom served as a professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in Baltimore where many of his students were first generation African Americans to attend law school, and where he ran the law school’s Community Legal Clinic from 2001 until 2007.
Tom Perez was head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division during former President Barack Obama’s first term, successfully fighting for police reform and protecting voter rights. When President Obama was elected to a second term, he tapped Tom to lead the Labor Department, where he was directly involved in settling the strike of the 40,000 Verizon workers, so that they were made whole from benefits and salary. He has been a champion for worker’s rights since 2007, when he served as then-Governor O’Malley’s labor secretary.
As result of the death of Freddie Gray in 2015, President Obama tapped Perez, then the U.S. Secretary of Labor, to assemble and lead a federal government team to work with Baltimore leaders on a range of issues. From Day One, Tom recognized the need to focus on the root causes that fueled the unrest: lack of access to job opportunities, deeply rooted racial inequality, and institutional mistrust. The Baltimore Federal Task Force brought together many of Tom’s areas of expertise and the values that drive him: civil rights, workforce development, community partnerships, a sense of urgency and results, and of course a passion for and commitment to Baltimore.
Tom’s life’s work has been to get stuff done and fight for justice and jobs. Which is why he has early endorsements from African American leaders from across Baltimore City and Maryland. In addition to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, these Maryland leaders include:
- Former Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett
- Senator Cory McCray
- State Senator Joanne Benson, Prince George’s County
- Charles County Commissioner President Reuben Collins
- Delegate Carl Jackson
- Delegate Robbyn Lewis
- City Councilmember Kristerfer Burnett
- City Councilmember Danielle McCray
- Glenard S. Middleton Sr., Executive Director of AFSCME Council 67 and President of Maryland Public Employees Local 44
- Community Association President Rita Crews
- Eze Jackson, Baltimore Musician/former labor organizer
- Reverend Dantwan Broady.
In the words of the endorsers:
“Tom understands that we need to come together as a community because there are great issues in our community, public education, public safety, the environmental challenges, the health care challenges. Tom is ready for all of this, and Maryland is ready for Tom because Tom can deliver.”
Former Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett
I think if there is one thing we can say about Tom Perez, at any given moment, this man is equipped to lead. In this very critical moment for our nation and for the state of Maryland in particular, our post-COVID-19 nation will require the type of transformative leadership that Tom offers for the state of Maryland.”
Charles County Commissioner President Reuben Collins
“When I think about the person that has the local, the state, and the federal credentials to make sure that we navigate Maryland in the right direction, that is Tom Perez. When I think about a leader on civil rights issues, that’s Tom Perez. When I think about predatory lending, and how he got it… across the finish line, that’s Tom Perez. When I think about labor issues, that’s Tom Perez.”
State Senator Cory McCray, Baltimore City
“Tom Perez is a father. He is a husband. He is a public servant. If you look at his record, his record as starting out as a garbage truck collector, moving on through the ranks, understanding the importance of civil rights of individuals. Working with the President of the United States Barack Obama. He is, without a doubt, the prime candidate to consider as we move forward in supporting someone who cares about keeping Maryland as one Maryland – understanding the needs of the people, not only in Prince George’s County, but in the great state of Maryland.”
State Senator Joanne Benson, Prince George’s County
“Tom Perez grew up, just like me, going to a recreation center. And just like me, he understands how community engagement is not only important for our children, but also our state as a whole. I believe that Tom has the life experience and the vision that we need to create a better Maryland, and I’m proud to support him.”
Delegate Carl Jackson, Baltimore County
“Baltimore is a great city that needs an ally in the Governor’s office. Tom Perez is an experienced leader with a heart for our people and our neighborhoods. He’s the Governor we need and I’m proud to support him.”
Delegate Robbyn Lewis, Baltimore City
“My friend Tom Perez shares my values. He’ll be our partner in Annapolis and he’s ready to get to work to deliver for Baltimore and Marylanders across the state. Together, we can lift up workers, achieve real public transit solutions so people can access opportunities in the region, and we can address gun violence and the mental health crisis.”
Baltimore City Councilmember Kristerfer Burnett
“Tom Perez is a genuine public servant. He understands the issues of Marylanders and prioritizes listening to the voiceless to ensure equity and prosperity for all. He is a proven leader who knows how to make government work and delivers for the people. He recognizes that Maryland thrives when Baltimore thrives and has taken actionable steps to meet with City residents and stakeholders to address concerns and promote innovation. I’m thrilled to endorse my friend Tom. Together, we can elect a Governor committed to jobs, justice, and dignity for all.”
Baltimore City Councilmember Danielle McCray
“When Tom Perez’s name first came up as running for Governor, there was no question of my unwavering support for his candidacy knowing full well that once he’s elected, he’s going to be one of the great Governors.”
Sam Dean, Former Prince George’s County Councilmember
“AFSCME Council 67 members know that we need a leader that will make protecting workers and families a top priority, and Tom Perez is that leader. We are proud to endorse Tom Perez to be the next Governor of Maryland.”
Glenard S. Middleton Sr., Executive Director of AFSCME Council 67 and President of Maryland Public Employees Local 44
“One can tell the character of a man by his actions. Tom Perez has a lot of good actions. Perez is well-prepared with the know-how on Day One to lead Maryland and forge a meaningful partnership with Baltimore City to lift up our communities. He will be a fantastic Governor.”
Belair-Edison Community Association President Rita Crews, Baltimore City
“His whole career, Tom has fought for working people. At every level of government, he’s been a champion for the folks in the shadows. I’m excited to see what Governor Perez will do, and I’m proud to endorse him.”
Baltimore Musician and former labor organizer Eze Jackson
“Tom is an asset to the Maryland community. The investment I believe he will make in our community will be life changing.”
Reverend Dantwan Broady, The Temple Church & Ministries, Baltimore City
These endorsements reflect Perez’s deep support and a growing coalition in the Baltimore region, demonstrating that he is building momentum in and around Baltimore because of his genuine commitment to making the Baltimore region a priority as Governor.
Whether serving as a federal civil rights prosecutor for the U.S Department of Justice, the Director of the Office for Civil Right in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, President of the Montgomery County Council or running the law clinic at the University of Maryland School of Law; as a state delegate, I observed Tom Perez to be a drum major for justice. Therefore, I am honored to join African American leaders in endorsing Tom Perez for Governor of Maryland.
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