Sheila Dixon and Nick Mosby (not pictured) say they have a plan to fix Baltimore. (Courtesy photo)

Mayoral candidates Sheila Dixon and Nick Mosby announced competing major campaign platforms this week that seek to address essential quality of life issues for Baltimore, a city that was saw riots last April and ended the year with 344 homicides, a near record.

On Jan. 4, Dixon released a four point plan to create a safer Baltimore. In an interview with the AFRO, Dixon stressed that she has experience in creating a safer, more livable Baltimore. “We focused on a holistic approach (in contrast to former Mayor O’Malley’s zero tolerance approach to crime). Crime rates started to decrease. Brutality rates were going down. We didn’t tolerate the mentality of officers coming onto the force and ignoring the extensive training they received.” Dixon said.

Dixon would require more training for all police officers and work with the anticipated consent decree that will be provided by the US Justice Department as a result of the agency’s current investigation of the Baltimore Police Department. “Whether or not the consent decree comes with funding, we will do what it takes to train our officers to engage 21st Century Community Policing,” Dixon said. “I will enhance the Civilian Review Board and ensure it has the support staff needed to function in an efficient manner.”

The Baltimore Police Department’s Civilian Review Board, established by the Maryland General Assembly, is often criticized for being irrelevant and ineffective, in spite of efforts by current Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to revitalize the board.

Dixon’s approach focuses on detaining the most violent offenders, requiring community policing and extensive training, while developing alternative approaches to restoring non-violent offenders to productive community life and supporting disconnected youth.   Dixon would use local, state and federal data currently available to target violent offenders.  “We know who the violent offenders are” she said.

Dixon advocates a collaborative approach to working with the city’s large population of disconnected youth.  “We need to monitor them and work with both youth and their families.  I am not advocating programs that will cost the city more money. We need to maximize the programs that we have. We would evaluate our own city agencies as well as organizations that partner with the city. We would bring in foundation s to help us”, Dixon said. “I have examples of how I have already done this with Promise Heights.” Promise Heights is a US Department of Education Funded program that partners with community and faith-based non-profits in the Druid Hills/Upton Heights neighborhoods.

Nick Mosby laid out his vision for the city. (Courtesy Photo)

Mosby Focuses on Future

On Jan. 5, Nick Mosby presented the press with what he called “A 15 Point Plan for Baltimore’s Future.” Speaking from a sidewalk near the corner of Howard and Franklin Streets, the contrasting images of the city’s blight and emerging signs of urban development were striking. “This is one Baltimore and if we come together now more than ever we can be and show the world what true urban revitalization is,” Mosby said. His plan focuses on five major initiatives including, eliminating gaps in the city’s educational system, investing in safe and healthy neighborhoods, economic development and attracting new businesses, a comprehensive transportation plan and enhancing government accountability and transparency.

During the press conference, Mosby praised Police Commissioner Kevin Davis for his leadership during the 2015 unrest. “He has been unafraid to go after the bad actors on the police force. But there is no way we can ever return to a year like 2015”, Mosby said. Mosby has pledged to ensure all officers wear body cameras within the first 100 days of his administration, require community policing, and combat addiction.

Mosby’s plan would also create universal pre-kindergarten, lower property taxes for all properties and provide livable housing for low-wealth residents, place stiff financial penalties for owners of vacant buildings, overhaul the Baltimore transportation system and expand the Charm City Circulator.

Mosby did not provide details on how his plan would be funded or implemented but indicated that “in the coming weeks we will roll out the economics of the plan.”

Both candidates focused on Baltimore’s future in discussing their vision for improving the quality of life for city residents.  Dixon focused on her experience with city government and connection with the city’s youth. “Most people understand I know the city and city government. I know how to run city government and I can take this city forward by and with the support of young people who will work with me and who want to see Baltimore succeed,” she said.

Mosby, in contrast, pointed to the future. “This election is not about the past, it’s about the future. This election is about new ideas, new energy and a fresh commitment to providing real opportunity for all Baltimoreans and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.” Mosby said.