Mayoral candidates for Baltimore City gathered together early Tuesday morning to debate the issues on WOLB 1010 AM Larry Young Morning Show. Noticeably present, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings -Blake joined the conversation to share her plans to combat the tough issues facing the city.
“I’m not running away from my political record,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake, as candidates blatantly criticized and bashed her current policies. Hot button issues discussed included lowering the crime rate, increasing funding for city schools, and as current Clerk of the Court Frank Conaway always stresses, “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”
“Small business is the backbone to our society,” said state Sen. Catherine Pugh, whose stance on investing in smaller local businesses was a common interest among the candidates. “Eighty-five percent of all jobs are made by small businesses,” said Otis Rolley, “Slots and car races are not enough.”
Property taxes are another concern for many of the candidates. “Baltimore City has a property tax rate double of those in surrounding counties,” said Jody Landers. With over 47,000 boarded up houses and thousands of vacant buildings, Baltimoreans heard plans on how each candidate plans to address the problem with Mayor Rawlings-Blake promising a 9 percent reduction in the property tax by the year 2020.
Also discussed were plans for an entertainment district within the city. Most candidates agreed that this type of district would be vital to a city that is predominantly African American. “It should be a top priority to represent the population of the city,” said Wilton Wilson in support of the idea. Still, some candidates, such as Rolley, deemed the idea “insane” while Jody Landers questioned whether this type of district would “draw attention from other businesses scattered across the city.”
“Whether it’s a district or a few people, we need to be partners with the community,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake, hitting on a central theme of working hand in hand with neighborhoods to better Baltimore. All the candidates were in favor of working in conjunction with faith-based institutions and leaders of the community to foster better relations between the citizens of Baltimore and those who represent and protect them.
The race for mayor of Baltimore City will come to a close with the Sept. 13 primary. Registration is open until Aug. 23.