David Warnock wants to change the way Baltimore police conduct business. (Courtesy photo)
As mayoral candidates Nick Mosby and Sheila Dixon released competing plans detailing how they would tackle issues like schools, crime and more – Baltimore businessman and philanthropist David Warnock sat down with The AFRO to discuss his own campaign.
“I think this election is about ideas, it’s about change and it’s about whether we’re ok with business as usual,” he said.
“There are tactical things that are in her plan and in Nick’s plan that we’ll all do. The question is, are you really going to create sustainable significant change for the city?”
Although Warnock is a political newcomer, he’s a somewhat familiar face in Baltimore City. He is the co-founder of the West Baltimore charter school Green Street Academy. He’s a trustee and former board chairman for the Center for Urban Families. He’s also the former chairman for the Greater Baltimore Committee. He stepped down from those two positions to run for mayor.
He is originally from Michigan, but came to Baltimore 33 years ago as a T. Rowe Price executive.
He announced his candidacy in November at a rally at Lexington Market.
Warnock said he would be releasing a plan of his own as well, but that he is taking his time putting it together.
“I’m creating policy groups around these issues so we will be releasing a housing policy, a social change and economic justice policy, a crime policy, an education policy, a transportation policy that will be formed with a working group. My educational policy’s got Nancy Grasmick and Sandra Kurtinitis and a bunch of really wonderful people.”
In his interview with The AFRO, Warnock spoke about what he thinks are some of the most important issues. These includes big changes to how policing is conducted and more access to jobs for people in the city.
“I fundamentally believe that we need to look at our police district offices as centers of community engagement,” he said.
“We need to create working conditions that are respectful of our cops and we need to improve the front of the house of our police districts and renovate to make them places of community engagement so that essentially we have a PAL center and a police department.”
He said that the Baltimore City police department needs to be better at promoting from within when it comes to top hires.
“Imagine if you worked for a company where whenever they hired the top person or division manager they always went outside. You never had a chance to have the top job. That’s the way it’s been in the Baltimore City police,” he said.
He said that this would be an election about jobs and opportunity.
“Fundamentally, if we don’t create economic opportunity for people we are not going to change the arc of crime in our city.”
“That’s what I’ve been doing at the Center for Urban Families…We’ve had 25,000 people go through that program on their way to a better life and jobs. The same thing at Greenstreet Academy, my charter school, we want to have all of our kids graduate high school with a tool kit of certifications that will allow them to go to work, the job of their choice.”
Warnock said that this is the most important election in a generation. “I really do think city government in many ways is in crisis. It certainly hasn’t fulfilled promises on many levels.”
He said that he is running for mayor because of his children, and the grandchildren he hopes to one day have.
“I want to be able to tell my grandkids that I took all the skill that I had, all the experience that I had…all the good fortune I had in this city…and at a time of crisis their grandad put his hand up and said ‘I can do this.’ I can do what I did in other situations surrounding myself with a really great team and we changed the arc of a great American city.”