Democratic gubernatorial hopeful John King unveiled a broad-based plan on Tuesday that he said would cut crime and improve overall quality of life for the residents of Baltimore.
His nine-page “One Baltimore” blueprint seeks to tackle many of the city’s most endemic challenges — including its public safety crisis, subpar educational system, unreliable mass transit network and its environmental woes. He also pledged to “break the cycle of mass incarceration.”
Speaking to reporters at East Mt. Vernon Place, King said his list of policy prescriptions flowed from conversations he and running mate Michelle Siri have had with Baltimore voters. The duo become the latest candidates to offer a plan addressing the city’s many challenges.
“We will reimagine public safety by recognizing that policing alone is not enough,” he said. “We need ‘policing plus’ mental health and addiction services… real investment in Safe Streets and other violence prevention programs… re-entry programs for formerly incarcerated people… and rec centers and summer jobs programs for our youth.”
A former U.S. Education secretary, King is one of nine Democrats running in the July 19 gubernatorial primary.
His plan includes:
- Boosting pay for Baltimore teachers and fixing broken heating and air conditioning in school buildings
- Support for a regional transit authority for the Baltimore region, “so the area has more autonomy over its transportation decisions”
- Creation of a state bank to help people purchase or renovate a home
- Closing the Curtis Bay Medical Waste facility
- Legalization of recreational cannabis and expungement of the records of “all nonviolent offenders incarcerated for cannabis-related charges”
- Ending qualified immunity for police and accelerating the city’s body-worn camera program
Other candidates have introduced Baltimore-focused campaign proposals. Most have tended to focus on public safety concerns. King said the city has the third highest police-to-civilian ratio in the country and that city residents pay $956 per person, on average, for policing. Baltimore’s homicide clearance rate is below the national average, however, and most arrests are for “minor and nonviolent offenses.”
Shortly before King spoke to reporters, rival Wes Moore (D) snagged two more big-name endorsements on the opposite side of town.
Rep. Kweisi Mfume and state Senate President Bill Ferguson, two high-profile Baltimore Democrats, threw their support behind Moore, a best-selling author and former non-profit CEO, during a news conference in the Cherry Hill neighborhood.
Mfume said Moore “represents a new generation of leadership, with the absolute courage to fight and to fix the problems that we face every day.”
The lawmaker, who was first elected to the Baltimore City Council at the age of 30, said he was dogged by many of the same criticisms, that he was too youthful and idealistic, that have trailed Moore. “They said, ‘Don’t worry, politics will change him,’” Mfume recalled. “And I said, ‘No, I will change politics.’”
Ferguson said Moore and his running mate, former state Del. Aruna Miller “are deeply committed to public service, transformational change, and solving problems today that expand opportunity tomorrow.”
Ferguson said Moore has “a magnetic ability to inspire and attract great people. I am confident he is ready to bring a talented group together to lead Maryland as we emerge from a once in a lifetime global pandemic.”