University of Baltimore
Republican Mayoral Candidates Forum
March 23, 2016

Opening Statements

My name is Brian Vaeth and I’m the “anti-corruption candidate.” I was a member of the Baltimore City Fire Department for 13 years. I broke my back in the Line of Duty and I lost my pension because of incompetence and corruption. Now, in my fight I met other activists…well, I’d say I was more of an activist in the beginning but now, (you know) people need to know what’s going on inside the government and how their money is being spent and what’s happening and how they are destroying the government from the inside out. So, I’m here to talk about what people may not know or understand and let you know what happened to me and hopefully we can get some of these problems fixed. That’s all I got to say.
My wife and I came to Baltimore 28 years ago from a large city north of here, and never looked back. We fell in love with Baltimore and still are in love with it. We regard it as not only our home but a great city. It’s also a good city and my campaign so far has been directed at those two issues, not the problems necessarily, although those are important, not the issues that have to be resolved but the greatness and the goodness of Baltimore that should be embraced, the things in Baltimore that should define the city to the nation and the world and to itself and allow people to understand like all families this one has problems and can be solved.
Thank you (inaudible), Thank you to the Baltimore Sun, and thank you to the League of Women voters for the invitation. My name is Larry Wardlow, Republican candidate for mayor. I was born and raised in this beautiful city but I, also like the majority of the City of Baltimore has suffered the stale policies for 50 plus years whose also tired of one party control. I’m the only candidate who can reach out to African American voters, to the voters of Baltimore City who I’m just like. I suffer just like them, I walk just like them, I talk just like them. I’m the only candidate on this stage who has experienced the City of Baltimore, born and raised in the City. Went to school in the City, and raised a family in the City. Thank you.
Yes, again. Thank you very much for recognizing that there’s a Republican party in Baltimore. I’m here, 4 years ago there was no real candidate for mayor. We’ve come a long way and I’m delighted to see that we have 5 good candidates to choose from. So, we’ve made a huge amount of progress. That is the only reason I’m running…to make sure that in the general election there’s a viable candidate that will challenge the democrats. There’s a huge amount of issues that needs to be discussed. Baltimore is not in good shape and I think a rigorous debate, one-on-one, is very important. Thank you very much for having me.
Multiple reasons of running for Mayor of Baltimore City and to start off is that growing up here in Baltimore City and living through so much over my 28 years, I feel the compassion. I feel we’re headed in the wrong direction and we have to change on looking for politicians to make that change. So, I’m involved to show forth that effort of whether I’m elected or not, I will go out here and effortlessly make a change with Baltimore City. It starts with us, as residents. It starts with us as a community and I’m pushing to have that involvement in my candidacy, so that’s where we need to go in Baltimore City. Thank you.

Question 1
What would you do as mayor to help increase public safety in the city?

Public safety is an issue that requires the cooperation of not only an administration but also law enforcement and the public at large. The biggest problem that I see that has to be addressed is the relationship between the police department, the law enforcement officials and the public at large that’s mutual understanding and mutual respect. Right now, most of the onus seems to be on the police department and the opinion generally seems to be that the police misbehave more times than not. That’s simply not true. Most of the men and women who are part of the Baltimore City Police Department do their jobs very well and take them very seriously. How to deal with the issue is to re-deploy forces where they are needed the most. Send them where they are needed without them behaving like they are some kind of an army. They are not invaders. Their job is to preserve and to protect. If the police understand that, if we can make the police and the community understand that they have a mutual interest in protecting the City and protecting its neighborhoods, then we will have succeeded. We have to bring them together, the people, not just the officials.
The crime in Baltimore City is caused by repeat offenders. I consider criminals with a badge…if you have a badge and you are a police officer and you commit a crime, you’re also called a criminal. Baltimore City has problem of protecting criminals from elected officials down to the citizens. We have to actually break that chain and the way to break that chain is letting people know this is not a war on any problems we have in the City. It’s actually a war on the people that live in Baltimore City and my first golden plan is consult with the police commissioner by advising the cadets to live and work in the district that are going to be service. I do not want to see police in police cars. It’s time to bring police back to the streets in Baltimore City. The only ones who should be in police cars are lieutenants. I will also going to hire me a police liaison that’s going to be inside of each district to relate the community to the police and we will also build a bond between community activists and also the police department because that’s where it starts. It starts with the City, it starts with the people.
Yes…public safety. One thing that stands out when I was at a forum with the mayor and the police commissioner and I mentioned that Boston last May had 2 homicides and that we had 43 homicides. The mayor said, “My commissioner will answer that question”, and he didn’t really answer it. Afterwards, he said, “I really don’t believe it.” So, I showed him the statistics of Boston…Jan 1…Feb 3, so forth. So, you have a city with the same population and the murders are 1 & 2 & 3 a month. The same thing with NY with 8.5 million. Now, what would I do? You notice that Hopkins had 2 homicides here a few years ago and they panicked. So, they all around that area now they have a huge amount of security guards and they haven’t had a homicide in 8 years. So, I would do the same thing. I wouldn’t hesitate to call in the National Guard to help the police. To have a benign presence. That’s all it takes. You don’t have to be aggressive but when you’re present, when the criminals see the police there, they go somewhere else or they don’t do anything. So, that’s one of the suggestions that I would least do and I’ll stop there.
Yes, automatically I stress that we have to have our residents involved and going into that we have [a] issue where we have to earn that trust back with our law enforcement agency. That law enforcement agency, we have to indulge into our community where we have block associations doing “block watches” is what I’m trying to say. We can involve training to make our citizens aware of what’s going on and how we can react to an incident before it even occur. There are studies that we don’t need to go outside of this great City to do when we have the residents input whose living through the issues. They want to be heard and they ought to be heard. Thank you.
When I was a kid, we knew all the cops in the neighborhood. They stopped by where we were playing ball, watched us play ball. We knew them by their names. Now, the turnover rate in the City Police Department is so high these guys aren’t in the neighborhoods that long anymore, so they don’t even know the communities they’re serving in. The first thing that we need to do is start recognizing police officers more and adjust their salaries, so we’re not a launching pad for them to go to other jurisdictions after they are trained. We need to get the community involved. We need to re-establish the community advisory boards with full authority to make moves they need to make in order to have the police department that they need but I think we need to recognize and raise the morale of the police department first. Get the officers back out on the streets, walking the patrols, and get them involved in the neighborhood again and open up the Police Athletic Leagues to let them get involved with the kids again like they did with us. I think it went a long way, so…I’m done.

Question 2
Protests after Freddie Gray's death demonstrated a significant level of mistrust with the
community in the police dept. What do you think is the cause of that mistrust and
what do you think can be done to fix it?

When I think of April 29th, it’s a tragic time for me also. It’s 50 years of stale policy. It’s 50 years of forgotten neighborhoods. 50 years of brutalized minorities. What you see on April 29th was very simple. It was people in the City speaking, yelling but still to this day, no one is listening and it’s about time to not just look at Sandtown because if we do not listen, it’s not over and the problem is elected officials forgot that there’s a City that they are representing and not a corporation, not a development. But until we realize that people in this City and not businesses is going to keep on interrupting and at the same time, like I said before, I want a community liaison police officer who can actually figure out whats the neighborhoods needs are how to conduct a safe environment, beautiful City.
Yes, with Freddie Gray. Whether we have trust or not. My observation is that if you go, you know my only experience was when I was in the army. We were down in Cambridge. We were instructed to treat everybody very professionally, very courteously, and I don’t understand, I have no idea why you would want to give a rough ride for somebody. The police has to be trained just like in the military to treat people professionally correctly. Tough, you have to be tough because Freddie Gray kicked a window out of a police car a few months before, so he was a tough customer. I’m not going to judge it too tough but I think you have to be professional courteous, not courteous but you have to be disciplined in handling prisoners or people you have to arrest. As far as trust and the community for me, I don’t know. Maybe I live in another world but I’ve always trusted the police. I’ve never had any problems with them. We don’t have a trial yet, so we don’t have all the information. All I know is he kicked a window in when he was arrested a few months before. Of course that shows there’s two sides to it. Thank you.  
Yes, as I previously, just said that there’s a trust base and it goes way back before Freddie Gray. I wish that the administrations and officers at the time would have approached a lot of issues where young men, Tyrone West was killed in handcuffs. My brother, for instance, who was killed in the Line of Duty and the point is a lot of issues when there’s a mistrust in that agency, you have to allow a different agency that has already gained the trust of the community and how do we gain that trust back to the community is having our community involved by having that transparency. By changing where it benefits officers, they are citizens, they have to, they’re US citizens and we’re not at war and although their training has been the issue over the prior years, I believe we’re going in the right direction. We have to have our community involved in that training, to share their experience with the police. Share their knowledge with the police because none of us know it all. So, it has to be again, push back the government and enforce our people. That’s first. It has to be. Thank you.
We re-establish trust by holding bad officers accountable. We need to get back access to the grand jury to submit issues to them for investigations. You know the grand jury is made up of citizens, so that would be sort of a community advisory board that would look into these cases, cases where the State’s Attorney refuses to bring them. There’s a lot of covering up for each other and the State’s Attorney doesn’t bring the charges that they should. The people should be able to bring these charges themselves and have the bad cops investigated, just like any other crime and be able to hold those officers accountable correctly and that way we will be able to be assured that these officers are coming out are not killers and aren’t out to kill people. So, accountability and punishing bad officers is what we got to do, so it’s what needs to be done.
We hear a lot about brutalized minorities and the police being trained to do certain things in a certain way. Well, for one thing the police are trained. They’re trained to do the right thing in the right way. Not all of them do it but they should and it’s up to the police department to see that they do. The deployment of police resources is based upon the crime rate. You’re going to see more police activity in West Baltimore than you do in North Baltimore because the crime rate is quite different in those two places. So, the dispositions of resources has to be different. How do you deal with it? A lot of this is up to the communities themselves more than to the police department. The people who live in the communities where they feel the police are not serving them well, have to engage with the police on a one-on-one basis. Cop on the beat to person on the street. Local merchant to police officer. Local resident to police officer and when something is wrong, the people must understand, or try to understand, call 9-1-1. Call the police and let them do their jobs. That’s what they’re there for.

Question 3
Please explain why you would be the best candidate to provide ethical, transparent leadership at City Hall.

Well, right now, I don’t think there’s been…wait. Who’s the best candidate for me? Why would I be the best candidate? Well, I have to think about that a little bit. Well, in my own personal life, when I was teaching at Poly or Boy’s Latin, I never had any problems with integrity. I think dealing with students, and that’s been my career. I think integrity is very important. The students, the young kids they see right through you very quickly. You can’t fool them very easily. So, I think my experience, as far as a teacher in the public schools and private schools will certainly give me some advantage, as far as being honest and having integrity. My service in the army, as an officer, that’s one of the big things they stress is integrity and honesty. They want people they can trust, so I passed that test very well, as an officer and I got my honorable discharge. For my past experience, those 2, I think, would be good examples of integrity and honesty.
I truly believe honesty is number one but however, due to that polling, I have to look at it as a sense that although you’re coming off to be honest and sincere about any issue, a lot of things seem to change. You opinion and that’s because you have to think more of the resident’s best interests and when it comes to that issue, that is number one for me, so I cannot see me making any decision in my administration that would not fit the community in going forward, so I believe I’m the best candidate, as well when it comes to honesty because I’m really sincere. By growing up here, I really do want a change for Baltimore and I’m an active member in my community and it’s not a price you can put on it, you know. I would do this any day and mentor our youth because that’s who we have to grab, our young people. We need our elders involved and help guide us and not force our thoughts upon anybody. We have to allow our young people to have open minds and make sure that we take what they know and benefit and make it the best for them. Thank you.
One of the best ways to achieve transparency is to re-establish the community members back on the agency boards for the City. Over the past 20 years we’ve slowly gotten rid of the citizens out of the process and loaded them up with appointees of the Mayor. So, if more citizens are sitting in the board rooms dealing with the business that City is conducting, they…it would lend people to being a little bit more honest in their dealings and I think things would be a little more ethical, so we definitely need to put members of the community back at the table and have them making decisions in their community and that will permit us to be a little more transparent and re-establish trust with the government again.
Members of the community are at the table. They are called elected officials. They were put there by the voters, so they are members of the community. Now, I’ve been to a lot of these forums so far and this issue keeps coming up. Ethical government, transparent government, accountable government, as though it’s a new idea. It isn’t. Where has it been up until now? Government is supposed to be ethical, transparent, accountable. I’ve been in private business most of my life and in this town I have been highly visible for a long time. Cast as wide a net, as you want and ask about my ethics, my transparency, my willingness to share my thoughts with other people. Go ahead. As wide a net as you want. Then you will find out why I believe I’m the person for the job.
Whew, I don’t know I’m going to go after all 4 of them. Can you repeat the question one more time please? If anybody knows me in Baltimore City, they know I’m one of the most honest people you can personally find and the reason why is cause sometimes it’s a hard decision by being honest but you have to continue to do it. When I changed my party affiliation from democrat to republican the first thing on the republican platform was the word God. I fear God and I hope other people fear God. I’m not worrying about what the City may think. I will always worry what the Father may think and that’s why I say when it comes to honesty, I’m a little nervous about Him. I’m not worried about anything else. Transparent government. Before I became a republican, I didn’t even know I was able to go to City Hall and review the budget, just to review anything that was going on in the City. But as a transparent government, one of the main things I was planning on doing as Mayor, advising my City Council, once or twice a month, to go to each district and find out what the City needs. When it comes to a bill, I would love that bill to be on facebook, twitter, town halls, it’s not hard. Open the door of City hall to the people. They are the ones who elected us in the first place and the problem is City Hall has forgotten the people. Ethical government. I can go all day long because half of them are un-ethically sitting in City Hall right now and I’m going to leave it at that note before I get in trouble.

Question 4
What would you do as mayor to stimulate Baltimore's economy and create jobs.

Well, we seem to do a lot of contracting out and we don’t hold our contractors to the initial deals that we ask them to hire residents in Baltimore City but we have to go back to years where you come in training, where you can actually receive a job, come on board and train. I find that a lot of great employees come in with little knowledge for that job, to pursue that job correctly and to fit what the administration would like but, however, there are also a lot of education…educated young people out here that are having a hard time finding jobs, as well and that’s a big issue where they have financial debt that they have to pay for college and you know, to expand that from my control, I would sincerely look to expand jobs in Baltimore City but however, I would ask those who are capable to invest in themselves and there’s a lot of work out here in Baltimore City. Demolition work, there’s a lot of accountants that are needed for these jobs and I would hope that we would step up and go towards investing in ourselves. We do a lot of spending outside of the City and outside of our country, of course, and (inaudible) is if we hold our best interests at heart, we come and focus on each other that’s right here in Baltimore City.
I think we got a problem in Baltimore City where we need an infrastructure and people need to work. Our government has driven business out, the manufacturing base isn’t here like it was when I was a kid. You had blue collar jobs that we could work to get into. We didn’t worry about going to college because we were going to be hard workers just like our dads were, but now those jobs are gone. People need to work and we can get them to work re-building the infrastructure, build a City that attracts business here because we have a strong infrastructure that can handle the business and really give these people training in jobs that they can carry on in construction, laborer positions, masonry, all kinds of jobs, so I think we need to put a lot of people to work and that’s one of the ways we can get that started.
We have two related issues when it comes to unemployment and you said the rate is 7.4% and higher in some areas of the City. In order to create the jobs, or to fill the jobs, fill the jobs that are already created, we need a change in the way we think about education…public education in the City of Baltimore. We have dozens of high schools here but only five of them are purely vocational schools. We have lived with a myth for too many years that everyone has to have a college degree, whether or not they will ever use it or not, or they cannot succeed and that just isn’t true. We need a re-expansion of vocational education at the public school level, to teach the crafts, to teach people how to be electricians and mechanics and iron workers and steel workers and bricklayers. Those skills they should have when they graduate from high school and have the skills to fill the jobs.
On the site of Amazon was one of our financially stable companies. It was General Motors and if anybody remembers General Motors, General Motors hired 70% of our citizens in Baltimore City. That was a good thing. Also, if you look at the Inner Harbor, former site of McCormick’s another hiring. I hear people say, especially up here on this stage, manufacturing jobs. If Baltimore had manufacturing jobs, we would have no jobless problem because everybody in Baltimore City is not qualified for white collar jobs. Most people who wants to do work are manufacturing. That’s what made Baltimore, so beautiful. That what made Baltimore so strengthened. You have the steel plant, you have plants. Now, they are condominiums, apartment complexes. They’re building more apartments and condos of course, and less jobs. And also, we have to have the developers come into our City that gets these TIF’s, the tax credits, to invest back into the community. Hire minorities, not just minorities, hire the City of Baltimore. With the “Hire Baltimore” credit, that’s how I would implement jobs for not just minorities but the City of Baltimore.
I think the young African American is around 40%, is that correct? Anyways, it’s very high. I worked with these kids at Harbor City High School and more and more I realized that what they need is not so much, some of them are limited as far as education is (inaudible) they’re not intelligent, so what you have to do is offer them something else when they’re 14 years old and that’s what they did in Switzerland. In Switzerland, if you’re not qualified to go to high school, you have a very rigorous apprentice program. You work every day and you have a mentor and after three or four years, you can learn a trade, whether it’s a garage mechanic, whether it’s a mason, whether it’s an electrician. My friend I have over there was a chimney, cleaning chimneys and in his forties he had two trucks and four men working. He was doing very, very well without a high school diploma. That’s what we need to have is a good, another choice, rather than just going to high school and learning a trade, so that you can become a productive person.

Question 6
Some community leaders have called for City Schools CEO Dr. Gregory Thornton to be replaced and legislation
is advancing in Annapolis to add some elected members on the School Board. I have two questions.
Do you have confidence in the leadership of the school system and
what should be the relationship between City Hall and North Avenue?

Question 5
What role do you see for anchor institutions like hospitals and universities and economic development as a community?

Well, I see hospitals and medical clinics, as the anchors of the communities, so I think we should keep up our investment in those because we’ve trained a lot of people to work in those fields. Baltimore seemed to be on a shift where we’re focusing more on healthcare jobs and jobs in tourism, where my thing is we want to bring more of that investment back to the community, back to the neighborhoods and have people shop locally, so my plan or my intent is to get people more motivated to shop locally that way they can build up their own neighborhoods, shop at the mom & pop stores in those neighborhoods and hope fully we can keep the money here that’s spent here and not sent to other state’s headquarters of companies that are just here to make money. We need to use that money here, keep that money here.
We have some of the finest hospitals and healthcare facilities in the country here in Baltimore. Not everybody can take advantage of them for a variety of reasons. One is transportation, the other may be cost. In any case, there’s another contribution, the greater contribution that the health, I hate to call it an industry. It sounds like we’re building something but healthcare is something more than that. There’s something more that can be done by those working in health and that’s to take healthcare to the neighborhoods, to a greater degree than has ever been done before. We need small healthcare facilities in the neighborhoods that require healthcare, where people can go easily and get what they require. They don’t have to take buses. They don’t have to take long drives or cab rides, even if they can afford them. Right there is where healthcare’s needed the most. It has to be taken to the neighborhoods.
A very fine program University of Baltimore of Baltimore did last year, and I would loved it very seriously because it helped me out. They chase you down. University of Baltimore had an African American men’s program to lower men’s high blood pressure, was one of the most serious problems besides killings in Baltimore City. With Johns Hopkins working with the City Police to figure out a way to calm the crime, to find out the behavior situation. We have two anchors here in Baltimore City. You have the University of Maryland. You have Johns Hopkins and both are spanning out into the neighborhoods. We have never had that before and I’m grateful and glad because my blood pressure actually went down but it’s probably going to go up higher because I’m standing up here right now but on the same note, the City of Baltimore need to make investment more and more into the smaller places. You have Bon Secours. You have also Total Healthcare. These community clinics are targeting poor African American neighborhoods. Majority of Baltimore City is African American. If we can invest in African American’s health, it’d be a better City and I guarantee you it also could lower the crime rate. Thank you
Well, I went to Hopkins. I got two degrees from there. They’ve already done quite a bit. I think they take in high school seniors with a certain qualification and they have no tuition whatsoever, so that is a wonderful opportunity for them to reach out to the community. They do the same thing with the Henderson School where they take K-6 or something like that and they do a wonderful job there. You have to reach out because we’re tied, Hopkins is tied to Baltimore. We don’t have much choice. We can’t move out. So, we have to remedy it. I just discovered that one member of the Board of Education is from Johns Hopkins. Before they ignored Hopkins for many, many years at their own expense. So, I think being on the board, reaching out and giving jobs at the same time is very important. Thank you.
I think jobwise is an awesome opportunity in Baltimore City. It’s an issue of certain large hospitals, as such, that we’re talking about here today such as Johns Hopkins and University doing one researching study for, a lot of people don’t have that trust, where they’re going to the hospital, they feel as such maybe they’re being experimented on but there are some people here in Baltimore City who are also getting paid for their experiments, I do know that but to benefit our community doing the research on why we’re going through so many health crisis, when we look into our communities and see the reflection and the lack of, we have multiple churches but lack of healthy stores in our communities. We have multiple liquor stores and so forth but we don’t have healthcare as far as like I said. Mini-markets that sells healthy food. We have an issue with that, so I’d like to see us to invest more into economic things that can keep us healthy instead of having to go far and wide into our good areas of the City that receives good healthy eating so, as far as the hospitals again, as I said, if they are also, we build that trust in the community, where we also have us investing into pharmacies owned by our community is what (inaudible). Thank you.
Oh, let me answer those in reverse. Baltimore City should have more direct control over its schools. It cannot be allocated, as it has in the past, simply to Annapolis and to others to take care of. Do I have confidence in the Baltimore City School Board and that’s what North Avenue and the answer is absolutely not because as far as I’ve been able to determine we’re teaching the wrong people, the wrong things, in the wrong way. We’ve done it the same year after year after year. We have a five tier public education system. Pre-K, K, Kindergarten, Middle School, High School. Layer upon layer of bureaucracy. Perhaps we don’t need five layers. We maybe able to get away with three. More than that, one of the things I mentioned earlier is that we have to start focusing more on teaching young people how to work, not just how to learn, how to use their heads but also how to use their hands. It’s about work. The suggestion was made that we don’t have manufacturing jobs. We do. Everything that’s built is a manufacturing job. Every high rise is a manufacturing job. Every new factory is a manufacturing job. We have the jobs. We need a young, educated workforce with the skills.
On November 29, 96, is when the City-State partnership started and that was because of a lawsuit that the State of Maryland was filing because of the failing schools. Before 96, we had a, we didn’t have any elected school board but we had a school board appointed by the City of Baltimore and it ran pretty smoothly just because of failing schools. Instead of giving the City of Baltimore a chance to fix them failing schools, the State of Maryland just came in and swooped up and they thought they was the hero. I am all for fully elected school board, not a partial elected school board. The School Board should represent the City of Baltimore. It should not represent Annapolis. It should not represent the lobbyists. It should represent the City of Baltimore. It should be apparent on that board. It should be anyone who is from Baltimore City elected to the School Board. How can Hopkins kick out and spend 34% of the school budget? That’s like, that’s like renting a house. You can invest all this money on this home but you will never own it. You have really no idea of which you can do with it. Until Baltimore gets that School Board back, we all, we have to do is listen to the State. We have no choice. We need a fully elected School Board and I never would been satisfied with a School Board because the first, the last thing you ever do is close a City school.
Well, I was in the public school system in Baltimore for twenty five years but, I guess I was inside the belly of the beast in a way. Many things were wonderful about it, somethings were horrible about the disparity. When I, do I have confidence in the leadership? It looks like I wouldn’t have because…it reinforces my experience with it that they counted the number of students incorrectly. They were very sloppy in their accounting and that implies that they don’t care and that’s the feeling that you get there. What relationship should there be between City Hall and North Avenue? I don’t know. I was in the army and one of the things I learned is that when you want to get something done, you have one person in charge, the unity of command. You can’t have the State financing most of the money and then the City trying to appoint things. So, I think it should be a, you should have School Board that’s elected. That would take some of the power away from City Hall but I don’t know. It’s all I can say. Thank you.
You know, at this point, replacing Dr. Thornton is the question. It’s a very tough job and there’s been a history of poor schools in Baltimore City, lack of materials in Baltimore City and even seeing my teachers and still seeing teachers that are going to these schools and coming out of their own personal pockets and help for these young people. I believe I can’t answer as far as getting rid of Dr. Thornton. He has a tough task ahead of him. But I would support an elected School Board. It is a very hard task that we are facing. It doesn’t just stop at school. It goes to the homes, so I feel as though my leadership in City Hall, transparency amongst City Hall and the School District would absolutely have to be a better system of finance of making sure that each child is getting the right amount of money for that particular student in that school and having the materials that is much needed. That is an issue where I’m interested and where we have the lottery and we have the casinos. We have to make sure that infrastructure is going, that finance that we promised. Our citizens are going in that direction so, thank you.
There seems to be a prevailing opinion in the City that the experts are anyone who isn’t (inaudible) from Baltimore. I think we need to show confidence in our own system by promoting from within. Our leadership should come from within the system that we’re trying to improve. As far as our relationship with City Hall and North Avenue, I think that relationship is going to be dictated by the people who demand the changes that they need in the schools where it’s important for their children, so what the people need, they’re going to direct me. My relationship is going to be based on what the community needs and not just what the Board of Education needs.

Question 7
How high a priority would you place on reducing Baltimore’s property tax rate which is double
that of jurisdictions in the region. Can significant cuts be achieved and if so, how?

I will love to sell Baltimore City a dream that I could lower property taxes. Unfortunately, with the deficit that Baltimore is faced with, $75Million, it will be almost impossible even with the budget cuts from any agency and even without an audit to every agency, even City Hall, we will never come up with the money to cover the deficit. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to lower the property taxes. At the present, my first, first term, I really couldn’t…I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t even try to lower it because we have too much other problems to fix than lower the property tax. I would love, I’m paying high property taxes right now but I live in the City of Baltimore, I have to deal with it. I don’t want to sit here and let people know in Baltimore City, yes, I’m going to get in office right now and drop your property taxes down to 2.5% because I’d be lying. No one in the City of Baltimore can lower the property taxes with the deficit we’re facing at the present time. And can those agencies, even though, I’m not lowering property taxes, There’s a lot of cuts in agencies, some agencies can actually be combined and that’s one of my plans to look into every agency and find out what can be combined because the City of Baltimore is wasting money on administration heads.
Yes, I’ve paid property taxes for 43 years and so for me running for mayor is one of the critical issues. With a high tax, all you do is drive out the middle class, then you’re left with just poor people and very wealthy people. So, it should be the same level as the county. We voted a long time ago to have casinos, so as one of the reasons is to have the revenue of the casinos to lower our property tax. So, the revenues from there from that and we can find other sources of revenue but you don’t want to tax home ownership, you want to encourage home ownership. You want people to have a small home, the way I have, so that you have an investment in the City. So, I would, I’ all for lowering the property tax at the level of Baltimore County. Incidentally, I had a house at the beach. I sold it to help myself retire. The taxes were $722 a year and it was a very valuable house and they do very well in Delaware. So, yes. Let’s reduce the property tax.
There’s multiple other ways to lower the issues in Baltimore City, as far as, the property taxes. There’s a huge issue where equal is not being shared amongst the homeowners, fair share should I say and it’s kind of sad to sit here and say that we have an issue of finance where we’re misusing that funding where it comes from our property taxes. We, again, go back to audits where when we don’t know exactly what we’re told and we want to have actual spending facts of where it’s going. But I will say this, there’s a lot of other revenues coming in to this City that is suppressed on the City and I looked into that as an issue where we have parking tickets and we don’t see great streets and we have citations where people own their home and you cannot feel comfortable in what they do in their home or how they build up their home in that community so, they’re also cit[ated] in a lot of ways and we have small businesses that are unequally cit[ated] as well. We have big corporations and even Baltimore City’s not holding them accountable for their residences or vacant homes yet someone whose private tries to come up or a community person that’s trying to build up their community, they’re taxed, or their cit[ated] even harder so, I recommend anybody to go to the Schaefer Building and get their property re-assessed and….
I think we got to move toward tax relief somehow for people. I mean, we can’t keep taxing them at the rate we’re going before they’re in the poor house. We got to take the casino funds, funds from the hotel that we’re supposed to be profiting from and use them for what they were intended to do and that was to give tax relief, property tax relief for the citizens. So, yea. We got to work towards tax relief to encourage homeownership. Without it, we’re not going to have it. One of the ways we’re going to do that is strengthen the economic base. I don’t know but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of manufacturing jobs available in this City to me that we need to put people to work. If people work, they can pay taxes. We got to encourage tax relief for people absolutely.
There’s no doubt that Baltimore’s property taxes are far higher than they are in any other jurisdiction in the State of Maryland and that pulling them down is not an easy job, although attempts in all fairness, have been made to reduce them in recent years. There are alternatives. Not all of them are pleasant. As a matter of fact, none of them are pleasant. Baltimore is a unique City. It is surrounded by counties but is not part of a county. Only one other city in the country has that distinction and that’s St. Louis. Many cities, (inaudible) little cities like ours, 81 square miles, impose commuter taxes on the county, on the residents that come into the city to work. That’s one possible option to help lower property taxes. There’s also the Value Added Tax. Oh, that’s a horrible idea but it’s something that cannot be ignored because it would help take the burden off the property owner. That’s the important part. Property taxes in Baltimore City are too high. We also have to be careful about the tax relief. We give to companies that want to develop in Baltimore, so that we don’t give away the store while we’re hoping for the return.

Question 8
As you all know, you are Republicans running in a City that has a large Democratic majority.
Looking to the general election, how you will appeal to Democrats in the general election and
why should Democratic voters look for a Republican in November?

Assuming I win the primary, how would I attract Democrats, as far as the voters are concerned? That’s a very important question. The more I talked, I’ve been to several forums with the Democrats to find out what’s going on. I don’t think our approach, whether it’s the property taxes or whether it’s making the City safe. Those two things everybody has some issues whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican and that’s what I’d stress that have the same issues. We’re on the same side only we want to make our City safe. That’s the most important thing, as far as I am concerned and the property tax for me because I’m a property taxpayer is the second issue. I’ve been in the publics for 25 years. That certainly gives me some idea of what’s going on in the public. That’s it. Thank you.
Yes, I’m first and foremost you compete with a bunch of people at a lot of different forums and you hear after the forum on when a lot of people walk up to you and say, you know what, I feel that you are more sincere than any of the ones up there, however, it comes to the point where you have to push for the people and I truly feel loyal and accountable whenever I’m in Baltimore City and my involvement. So, my, once successful of the primary, the way I reach out to any of them is to work together and go on the point you push your agenda and that’s the people and, it…that’s all that matters. It’s not about bringing tourism into the City. That will come when we have home straight first. So, that’s how I will be successful in the general election.
I think the ways that I will appeal to Democratic voters is practice on my public speaking. I’m nervous right now. Most guys aren’t but I don’t have the experience doing this. One of things that I’ll do is just keep pointing the Democratic failures of the past 40, 50 years and how we’re going to keep running ourselves into the same brick wall if we keep electing the same people over and over again. I think the voters are looking for a change and I think they’re looking towards the Republicans to do that and we’ll give them less government and see how they like that and we’ll try to do what we can for people and make this City great again.
I have to go back to something that Mr. Wardlow said earlier in our discussion today why he’s the best candidate because he looks like the African American and he talks like the African Americans and he lives with the African Americans. I found that distressing because that assumes that only African Americans would vote for Mr. Wardlow and none would vote for me, for example. Here’s the answer. Why would they vote for me? Why can I overcome this ten to one ratio of Democrats vis-a-vie Republicans? Because I believe that 624,000 people who lives in Baltimore City, including about 400,000 registered voters have asked the same question of themselves and of others is, or reasonable to assume that the same people, doing the same things, in the same way will produce a different outcome? I don’t think so. I think the outcome has to be different and in order for that to happen, the person in charge has to be different with a different view and different ideas and a different approach. That’s what it’s all about.
The last Republican in office was, the last Republican Mayor in office was McKeldin. My party was not in office when we had 343 homicides last year. My party was not in office when we had the April 29th uprising. My party was not in office when we had the homeless population bigger than almost every city in the country. My party was not in office when we had streets and potholes that you could play Grand Theft Auto on. My party was not in office when we have crime, brutalized minorities. My party was not in office at the present time but what makes me the best candidate in the general election is very simple. I live and breathe Baltimore. Only difference between me and the citizens of Baltimore, I have an “R” at the end of my name. Thank you.