Article19 Conversation with Del McCray

Del. Cory McCray and Jason Perkins-Cohen of the Job Opportunities Task Force (standing) address questions from residents of the 45th district in Baltimore City.(AFRO/Photo by Roberto Alejandro)

In a bid to make the representation of his district a dialogue between himself and his constituents, Maryland House of Delegate member Del. Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City) launched a series of monthly events to update residents in the 45th district about events directly affecting them.

Among the topics are legislation making its way through the General Assembly which could impact his district, other issues and efforts related to Baltimore City, and gauging the temperature of those who sent him to Annapolis on his work as their representative.

“On this journey that I’m on, I learn so much information,” McCray said during the opening minutes of his last event, titled “Conversations with Cory,” on Feb. 28. “So much information in reference to housing, so much information in reference to jobs, so much information in reference to safety, but that information is useless if I keep it to myself.”

In addition to discussing the two bills he is currently sponsoring in the General Assembly—one on apprenticeships and another that would expand voting rights for former felons—McCray welcomed Dr. Leana Wen, commissioner of the Baltimore City Health Department, to speak about her priorities for the agency, which she said were focused on addressing health disparities in Baltimore City.

“Neighborhoods right next to each other have life expectancy differences of 20 years,” Wen told a crowd that had filled all the available seating and then some. “How is that possible, right, that if you just happen to live three streets over, that you can expect to live…20 years shorter?”

Jason Perkins-Cohen of the Job Opportunities Task Force also spoke at the event, focusing on the current iteration of the Second Chance Act wending its way through the General Assembly. That act would shield the records of non-violent misdemeanors in the hopes of making it easier for those with such convictions to enter the labor force.

Perkins-Cohen also said that the task force is fighting cuts to adult education in Gov. Hogan’s proposed budget, especially as 25 percent of adults in Baltimore do not have a high school diploma or GED, 50 percent have only a high school diploma or GED, and many jobs require some level of college education.

“In Maryland, we are, by any measure, in the top five wealthiest states in the nation…but we do not invest in our population, in our people like we are a wealthy state,” said Perkins-Cohen. “And adult education is a really good example: 47th in the nation in adult education investment.”