Elizabeth Embry, Nick Mosby, Catherine L. Pugh, Carl Stokes and David Warnock were guests on the Larry Young Show. (Photo by Deborah Bailey)

Five of the 29 mayoral candidates for Baltimore answered the call to “rise and shine” for Radio One’s mayoral forum on March 24. The event was put on by WOLB -AM 1010 radio host, and former Maryland State Senator, Larry Young.

Young believes Radio One represents a unique outlet that needed to give voice to the candidates in spite of multiple mayoral forums and debates that have already been held during election season in Baltimore. “I feel that the community still needs more access to the candidates. We are (Radio One) going to ask questions that other news outlets will not ask,” said Young before the program began.

Elizabeth Embry, Senior staff in the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, 7th District City Council Member Nick Mosby, Maryland State Senator Catherine Pugh, 12th District City Council member Carl Stokes and David Warnock, businessman and philanthropist joined the live broadcast aired during the 8:00 – 9:30 a morning drivetime slot.

True to his word, Young did ask about the specific neighborhood concerns that some other forums may not have emphasized. In addition to the large scale issues of criminal justice reform, the future of Baltimore City Schools, inclusive community development, taxes and accountability, candidates were asked about improving trash pick-up and other blockby-block resident concerns.

Young also gave the candidates the opportunity to respond to the urgent issue of their choice with a specific improvement plan for the city. For Embry, the issue was housing. “Federal housing police created segregation so Federal policy should have a role in ending it” she said. “I will immediately invest local dollars and seek state and federal support for the North Avenue and Penn Avenue corridors. These are two of the greatest sectors of our city and should be restored to their historic significance.”

Stokes believes Baltimore’s failing K-12 system needs day-one attention from the Mayor’s Office. “As mayor of the city, I will be the CEO of Baltimore City Schools. Every other jurisdiction gives at least 50% of its budget to schools. Baltimore gives 3% of its budget. I will seek to immediately raise that to 30%,” Stokes said. Mosby also felt strongly about youth and education but differed from Stokes in approach. “It’s about being responsible to Baltimore’s most valuable asset – our children. We need to go after Baltimore’s lead paint manufacturers. We must do a paradigm shift from a schools-to-prison pipeline to a schools-to-work pipeline.”

Pugh said there was need for municipal tax reform. “I don’t believe we should reduce property taxes irresponsibly. Let’s make our city’s boarded up houses available through a dollar house program. Let’s give those homeowners willing to buy and repair these homes a lower tax rate and get the properties back on the tax rolls.”

Warnock, took on criminal justice reform and job creation as the most urgent need the city faces. “I’ve been fighting for automatic expungement for non-violent crimes in Baltimore. We need to look at our housing program as a job opportunity” he said, emphasizing the need to create opportunities for entrepreneurial youth and young adults. “We need to give our students the tool kit their need to get a job in this economy.”

Radio One/Praise 106.1 and WOLB 1010AM will follow-up the Mayoral forum with a live studio debate between U.S. Democratic Senatorial Candidates on Tuesday April 5th from 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 am. Young believes the city is focused on the upcoming elections. “If you would have asked me about community involvement 30 days ago, I don’t know. But now, the interest is definitely increasing.”