Elizabeth Embry: I’m Elizabeth Embry, I’m running for Mayor of Baltimore City. Well, I’m a daughter of this city. I was born and raised here, I’m a proud product of the public school system and after, thanks to the teachers I had at City College, I was lucky enough to go to Yale and Columbia Law School I came back after to Baltimore and I worked as a public servant in the city, primarily as a prosecutor but also working in the area of workforce development, housing, and in policy issues generally throughout the course of my career, and my experience in management and leadership is uniquely matched to what the city needs right now because we have so many of the most important ingredients in this city, But, we’ve had a real lacking of leadership, and that’s where my skill set matches the needs of the city. I spent a lot of my career focusing on eradicating violence in the city, which is part of the solution but long term, the only way to eradicate violence and crime is to bring jobs into the city and build the city’s business community. That will take too large pieces, one is bringing jobs to the city and that means the Mayor has to be a salesman and a cheerleader and a proselytizer for the city. That means going out and convincing businesses, for instance, that are in DC and are paying three times the rent of Baltimore, why they should be here, they could still have access to DC but they can be located here and employing people here and paying taxes here in Baltimore City. It means looking at the jobs around the region, figuring out which jobs could be brought into the city or alternatively how we get people in the city to those jobs and remove the obstacles to the employment of people within the city to the jobs in the region. That means looking at our public transit system, which is wholly inadequate. It means looking at our educational system, both secondary and post secondary, and understanding how to align those systems with the jobs that exist now and the jobs that will exist in the future. It also means looking at people’s former records and seeing how we can be more aggressive as a city in expunging them and removing unnecessary obstacles to employment.
The biggest challenges we face are the concentrations of poverty in the city and the crime and the lack of safety and the educational system that is failing our students. Those are problems that are driving people out of the city and are reasons that people do not want to stay and build their lives within the city. I say that painting the most negative side, but we also have enormous positives. We have schools that are functioning at very high levels and we have neighborhoods and areas that are thriving and doing very well but we have to address the crime in this city and we have to address the educational limitations of our school system. We have a government that is failing in the basic job of providing services to citizens of Baltimore and that means fixing potholes, that means picking up trash, that means responding to 911. It means holding our agencies accountable through audits and through systems of accountability that start from the top, and we need management that puts the best people in place and keeps them going, going, going, and feeling inspired and feeling like they’re part of a common solution. So part of it is accountability and restoring trust and effective government. Safety is another piece, we can’t move forward if we can’t stop people from being killed on the streets of Baltimore and there is no candidate in this race who has the credibility or experience to bring safety to Baltimore.
The third thing is economic development and jobs and that’s by far the most important overarching piece of it and it’s making Baltimore a business friendly climate where businesses want to come, where they want to grow, and part of that is providing access to capital, to neighborhoods, to businesses large and small. Some of that the government can do, some of that government just needs to promote and support efforts in the business community and really get out of the way. So we have to bring jobs to the city and we have to help businesses grow in the city and part of that is having an aggressive strategy, working with the business community, of how to go out and find businesses that should be here and convincing them to come here. Part of it is immediately expanding access to capital, again whether it is the city doing it directly or supporting efforts to bring access to capital so that small businesses that want to be in Baltimore feel that Baltimore is a receptive place where they can grow.
Hopkins University every year creates maybe, lets say, a hundred new jobs that are born out of the labs of Hopkins, out of the research institutions of Hopkins, and only 10% end up staying in Baltimore City. We’re losing out to cities like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Buffalo and Boston because we do not have a climate and the leadership in Baltimore that says we are committed to you, committed to you starting here, staying in here and having the resources you need to thrive here. I think there are very simple things that we can do like answering the phone and returning phone calls. It also means having effective government. What I hear from business leaders and owners large and small is that they feel that the city does not provide effective services and that means when they are expanding, whether it’s in terms of construction permits or in terms of any kind of ___________4/57____. It’s not that they want special treatment, they just want the city to run effectively, they want predictable rules, predictable outcomes, fairness and transparency and hard work within city government, and that’s what I will provide.
Well the great tragedy of the Red Line of course is that the state gave up almost $1 billion in federal funding that of course could have been used for the Red Line, it could have been re-purposed to other public transportation projects so that is a mistake in judgment and a mistake for the city of Baltimore. We need an adequate public transit system. We will ultimately have one, I know that, because every modern city demands a public transit system that works and we need a robust east-west connection. One of my top priorities will be sitting down with the Governor, with the state and saying this is our plan for a transit system in Baltimore from mass transit, light rail and heavy rail connections but also a rapid bus transit system that really gets people to jobs within the city and outside of the city.
Baltimore is a great place, we’ve tremendous assets, we’ve institutions like Hopkins and Maryland, and other colleges and universities that are producing a top flight workforce. We have amenities, we have incredible neighborhoods that are getting better and better, we have the harbor, we have easy access to DC, to the Northeast corridor. There is so much that exists in Baltimore right now, part of it is just telling that story, because businesses want to be where their workers want to live and that’s one of the greatest appeals and attractions of Baltimore.
So, the second thing that I would focus on as Mayor, one is building on the strengths of the city and that’s our biotech industries, our healthcare industries, our largest employer, of course, is Johns Hopkins University and Maryland is a close second, those are our strengths. We also have strengths in the cyber industry, in the tech industry, and so growing from our strengths is a smart strategy to increase jobs in the city. Another part of that is fostering, there’s a social entrepreneurial energy in this city that I’ve not seen in any other city and that’s shown in places like the Impact Hub that just opened in North Avenue. It’s seen in places like Station North and the creative class that is driving not just arts but also creative entrepreneurial efforts that are very exciting and I think unique to Baltimore. So, it’s supporting the traditional standard business sector but also really encouraging the young people of the city to continue to be, to feel like they’re part of the solution and to build this network of social entrepreneurs across the city, which again has started with Impact Hub and is spreading into West Baltimore and East Baltimore and it’s very exciting.