Issues

Public Safety

Baltimore is in the midst of a violence and crime crisis. Having grown up in Cherry Hill as one of five boys, I experienced firsthand the detrimental effects of poverty, addiction and violence. My family faced the challenges too many young people and families in Baltimore are still facing today — a parent in recovery, jobs that did not pay enough for us to secure safe housing, a need for welfare and food stamps just to barely get by, heat and water cut off because my parents couldn’t pay the bills even though they worked hard. These are my roots and they’re what drives me to make Baltimore a better, fairer, safer place for all.

Violent crime is tearing communities apart, driving families and business out of the city, and cutting the lives of our loved ones short. Last year alone, we saw the highest per capita homicide rate in our city’s history. This cannot continue.

Being raised in Cherry Hill, I saw first-hand the root causes of various levels of crime and violence in our city and how they destroy lives, families, neighborhoods, and communities. Our crime fighting strategies need to consider this dynamic and allot the appropriate resources in a targeted manner. My public safety platform will take these current realities into account as we identify the most effective ways to combat crime and identify additional resources to be brought to communities.

Our current elected officials are not being held accountable or acting with the urgency we need to address the crime crisis plaguing our city. It’s time for us to act rather than continue to sit on the sidelines.

As mayor, I will make it my top priority to end the violence in Baltimore. While sustainable reduction in violence will take a systemic approach, we must act immediately with tactical and strategic initiatives to reduce the crisis of violence today.

Crime Crisis

CHALLENGE: Baltimore faces highest homicide rate in the city’s history and a pervasive sense of hopelessness on our ability to impact crime levels
VISION: Reduce homicides by 25 percent in first term
OUR APPROACH: Build a coalition of experts

Building safer communities starts with rooting out gun violence. My most immediate action will be to pull together a coalition of leading crime fighting and public health experts across the region and work with them to build a plan to end this cycle of violence.

Ending the crime crisis can’t wait. Lives are lost every day. That’s why I will begin building a solution even before I’m sworn in. Immediately after I win the election, I will work with my coalition of thought leaders and changemakers and develop a tactical plan to address the immediate crisis of crime facing our city. The plan will focus on real solutions and tactics that can be implemented immediately. To ensure I and my team are held accountable, the plan will include the ongoing measurement of results, which I will share with all the citizens in Baltimore through a real-time, online dashboard.

Our coalition of crime fighters, thought leaders and experts will be open to all possible solutions to address the immediate crime epidemic, as well as longer-term solutions.

The current crime-fighting strategies being used in our city clearly are not working and have not worked for prior administrations for many years. You only need to visit our hardest hit neighborhoods to know that and to see the human toll of this failure. By employing strategic partnerships, we will introduce innovative solutions to combat the city’s immediate crises.

A cohort of cities, including Oakland and Philadelphia, have implemented comprehensive gun violence reduction strategies that have proven effective in reducing violent crime. As soon as I win the election, I will meet with leaders from these and other cities to tap their experience and expertise and learn what proven strategies we can adapt to the challenges we face in our city. We must bring those strategies and resources together to make a difference from day one. I know Baltimore has the funding, resources and brainpower to make this happen.

As a successful businessman and entrepreneur, I have a more than 30-year history of building successful partnerships, coalitions and strategies to get things done. This will be the most important coalition that I have ever built, because it will save lives and move Baltimore in a new, better direction.

 

CHALLENGE: Lack of trust between police and minority community

VISION: Rebuild trust between the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) and the minority community

OUR APPROACH: More feet on the street and improved BPD policies, training, recruiting and accountability

For realistic and successful change to happen and endure, the Baltimore Police Department must earn the trust of the residents who live in the communities they serve – especially in those communities that are most heavily impacted by poverty, crime, addiction and violence. Conversely, residents of the communities that the BPD serve must appreciate the difficult and dangerous job that police officers are confronted with and recommit to respecting them and allowing them to do their job. Additionally, we must emphasize the accountability of not just the leadership of the BPD but also every individual officer to ensure residents feel they can trust and rely on the police who serve their communities. There exists an inherent mutual dependency between the police officers and citizens. Neither can be successful or safe without the help of the other.

Growing up in Cherry Hill, I witnessed and experienced the debilitating cost of racism, racial profiling and other corrupt actions by those who should have been protecting, leading and building up our communities.

I will work closely with Commissioner Harrison to ensure that BPD has the proper funding for training, more foot patrols in communities that will provide opportunities to build trust with our citizens, and for programs to support and protect people who come forward to report criminal activity. I know that without improved policies, training, and recruiting efforts, residents will continue to feel justly distrustful of BPD. But, by strengthening the relationship between police and communities, we can work together effectively to end the crime epidemic destroying so many lives in Baltimore.

I also understand that trust is a two-way street. The lack of connectedness in the city today has fueled crime and violence. For change the come, there must be connectedness within communities and an effort to bridge connections between communities and BPD. We must establish an environment across our city and in our neighborhoods that fosters mutual trust and communication between the police and our residents. We must create more opportunities for police and residents from all communities to interact in a positive way and build mutual respect and long-term relationships that will allow us to tackle the complex issue of crime in Baltimore.

Crime Systemic Focus – Crime as a Public Health Crisis

CHALLENGE: Lack of police living in the communities they serve

VISION: Establish relationships between BPD and the communities they serve

OUR APPROACH: Incentivize BPD officers to live in the city

In the past few years, BPD has lost hundreds of officers, resulting in an inability to fight crime effectively and creating a lack of appropriate coverage that our communities need to be safe.

As a business owner with more than 30 years of experience, I have a successful history of creating hundreds of jobs in Baltimore and beyond and I will bring those skills to bear on this problem. I will work diligently to identify best practices and use tax policy to make our communities safer. I know this change won’t happen all at once but working together we can transform our communities.

As mayor, I will fill BPD’s vacancies and create incentives to encourage officers to live in the communities they serve. When officers have a real stake in the community, they can build meaningful and lasting relationships with those they are sworn to protect across the city. I will incentivize officers by working with the city and state to offer significant tax breaks and home ownership opportunities to those who choose to live in the communities they serve. My goal will be to place at least 25 officers in homes in high-crime communities in the first year of my term.

 

CHALLENGE: Lack of mental health resources for communities plagued by gun violence

VISION: Create long-lasting solutions to end the cycle of violence

OUR APPROACH: Expand trauma-responsive mental health and drug addiction resources

To create long-lasting solutions to end the cycle of violence in our city, we must address the root causes of this violence. Communities with the highest levels of poverty, crime and addiction face the greatest exposure to trauma caused by gun violence and violent crime. Historically, Black and Latino communities in Baltimore have been disproportionately affected by this trauma, which can lead to the development of mental health issues. This trauma can be especially detrimental to young people. The problem is compounded when access to resources are limited or non-existent, as they currently are in Baltimore.

As mayor, I will expand the availability of trauma-responsive mental health services and drug addiction resources in the communities that need it most. These services are needed now more than ever in all underserved communities and we will address these needs, providing the resources required to keep our citizens safer.

Stay tuned for more details…

 

CHALLENGE: Squeegee kids unsettle residents and deter visitors

VISION: Create opportunities for these young people

OUR APPROACH: Prohibit squeegeeing, provide better alternatives

The squeegee kids' phenomenon is a classic example of motivated but misguided entrepreneurship.  Many residents and visitors are deterred from visiting our great city's harbor because of the "Pitbull" sales tactics of some of these individuals.  Beginning on the first day of my term, squeegeeing in visible areas will be prohibited, specifically on designated routes in and out of downtown.

At the same time, I recognize that this is a complex issue and will be vigilant about addressing the root causes that lead to young kids working in the streets. I will create a task force that includes downtown business leaders, commercial property owners, educators and non-profit organizations to create and fund a comprehensive plan to get squeegee kids off the streets and either into steady jobs that provide a fair wage or provide a path to get them back into the education system.

When I was growing up, the Police Athletic League and Big Brothers and Big Sisters provided activities and mentoring that helped young people like me, young men and women living in neighborhoods where finding the right path is difficult. Through partnerships with these types of organizations, we will connect young people with ongoing opportunities to build the interpersonal skills and habits of mind that are essential for long-term success and stability.

Educational Excellence

Investing in our Youth for a Better Future

CHALLENGE: Operational inefficiencies in Baltimore City Public Schools

VISION: Position our youth for academic success

OUR APPROACH: Audit existing financial system to clarify sources and uses of funds

As a product of Baltimore City Public Schools, I know that education is the foundation on which we build strong, resilient communities. The teachers I had at Poly helped me see and follow a path that I had never imagined for myself, and they provided me with the strong educational foundation I needed to succeed in college, grad school and business. That’s what I want for all of Baltimore’s children and that’s why I’m committed to investing in our youth and positioning them for academic success.

Our city schools have historically been severely underfunded. As mayor, I will work closely with the state’s elected officials to ensure that our public schools get the funding our youth deserve and that these funding dollars are used strategically and thoughtfully to achieve the best results for our young people and our city.

Baltimore City Public Schools must improve. I will enact a new holistic approach to educating Baltimore’s young people that prior administrations have neglected to put in place or even envision. We will work with regional and national resources to create a first class, accountable, fully funded system that will help our young people achieve higher test scores, attendance and graduation rates and will open the door for more students to go on to higher educational and skill training opportunities.

This starts by working with the governor and others to appoint influential, effective leaders to the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners. I will appoint city leaders from all walks of life, people who understand the challenges that impact the ability of many of our young people to learn and succeed. These leaders will demand performance and better guide the superintendent on ways to deliver results.

Expanding youth initiatives to provide more opportunities for young people will be a top priority under my leadership. This includes investing in our recreation centers, expanding mentorship opportunities, like the Police Athletic League (PAL) Program and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and creating better access to jobs and resources for young people. With better access to these resources, graduation rates will go up and college and trade and technical school attendance will increase. Through increased funding and expansion of youth initiatives, my goal is to increase high school graduation rates by 10 percent in my first year as mayor.

The ongoing struggles of Baltimore’s education system are a long-term issue that will require thoughtfulness, determination and innovation. Our policy platform must be fluid and develop over time to truly meet the changing educational needs of our young people. My experiences as a student, educator and businessperson make me the best person to bring a new dynamic to the city’s education system and make the much-needed changes that have been sorely missing under prior administrations.

Transparent Leadership

Government Accountability and Efficiency

CHALLENGE: Cycle of mismanagement and corrupt leadership in City Hall

VISION: Transparent, accountable leadership

OUR APPROACH: Undertake financial audit of every city agency

Sadly, Baltimore has faced mismanagement and corrupt leadership within City Hall for decades. Baltimore City residents deserve accountable, efficient and transparent leadership that works at every level.

It’s time to hold elected officials accountable and root out the systemic corruption that has run rampant in the city for too long. I will create a new position focused on ethics and transparency—the city manager/chief ethics officer, who will work hand in hand with me to create more accountability and transparency at all levels of city government. Together, we will oversee the ethics of the city’s employees, budgets and elected officials.

In my first 100 days in office, we will undertake a complete forensic financial audit of every city agency to see how and where budgets are being spent and how well they are being managed. We will root out mismanagement to ensure that each agency is doing its best to carry out its duty to serve the needs of the citizens of Baltimore City.

Stay tuned for more details…

Infrastructure, Transportation & Quality of Life

City Beautification

CHALLENGE: Inadequate infrastructure and unreliable services leave our streets and neighborhoods uncared for

VISION: Make Baltimore clean, green and livable

OUR APPROACH: Expand maintenance and beautification services across the city

All Baltimore residents deserve to live in a clean and healthy city. I will ensure that people living in underserved communities in our city have access to safe, clean, family-friendly affordable housing and medical care. I will collaborate with non-profits, community organizations, and local, regional and national foundations to ensure access to the services they need and to create a better quality of life for the people of these communities.

I will make Baltimore a world-class destination. That starts with cleaner streets and neighborhoods, improved and more abundant green spaces, addressing blighted neighborhoods and cleaning our harbor and waterways. An increased focus on maintenance and beautification of our communities will attract people and businesses to our city.

I will create a public-private partnership to clean up our city focused on landscape enhancement, removal of litter and graffiti and the addition of public art installations in neighborhoods and parks across the city. The partnership will be powered by collaboration between the Department of Public Works, Department of Recreation and Parks, individual volunteers, and sponsorships of streets, neighborhoods, public parks and gardens.

Stay tuned for more details…

Public Transportation

CHALLENGE: Transportation doesn’t meet the needs of working-class citizens

VISION: Make Baltimore accessible for all residents

OUR APPROACH: Expand public transportation to reach all neighborhoods

Baltimore residents deserve safe, sustainable and accessible transportation. Our current transportation system is broken. Many residents are unemployed or underemployed because they lack access to public transportation that makes it possible for them to get to their jobs. Improved public transportation increases access to jobs, schools, community centers and other resources for residents of all neighborhoods.

To address the lack of accessible transportation, I will implement a plan to expand public bus routes to reach historically disinvested neighborhoods to better connect the city. I will also work to expand access to e-scooters, bicycles and ridesharing services.

My experience as a business leader who has built several successful companies will be a key asset as we allocate financial resources to accomplish this goal. Where public dollars are lacking, we will build private-public partnerships to provide funding for these essential transportation improvements.

“Connectedness” Through Strategic Partnerships

Technology Investment, Entrepreneurial Proliferation, Global Presence

CHALLENGE: Baltimore has the resources necessary to be great but lacks connectedness

VISION: Unite Baltimore as one

OUR APPROACH: Use technology and strategic alliances to move Baltimore forward

With more than 30 years of business and entrepreneurial experience, I will bring innovative strategies to move Baltimore forward as a hub for business and technological investment.

My mission as mayor is to create an environment of success and opportunity where citizens, small business owners, entrepreneurs, corporations, faith-based institutions and non-profit organizations thrive through the delivery of quality, customer-focused municipal services.

My global network of contacts and proven track record as a successful Baltimore-based business owner will allow me to create essential relationships with people who want to bring business and services into Baltimore and power the growth of our economy. That work will begin as soon as I am elected so we can hit the ground running when I’m sworn in.

To achieve our mission, we will use data, technology, strategic alliances and proven best practices to make decisions and measure progress based on the achievement of stated objectives and measuring our progress toward achieving those goals based on the movement of Key Results (OKRs).

In upholding my commitment to transparency in city government, I will create an online public dashboard that measures the success of key city agencies and strategic initiatives. This dashboard will also report on important indicators of the city’s economic standing.

Strategic Partnerships

CHALLENGE: Lack of unity across the city

VISION: Unite neighborhoods, schools and families across Baltimore

OUR APPROACH: Create strategic partnerships to increase equal access to resources across the city

As mayor, I will establish public-private school partnerships, family-to-family partnerships and affluent-working class partnerships to unite the city. I will build a taskforce of leaders from public and private schools in Baltimore City and surrounding communities. This taskforce will create partnerships between public and private institutions to provide greater access to mentorship, educational resources, best practices and recreational programs for students in underserved communities.

Bringing public and private institutions together will not only expand resources available to youth but will also enhance connectivity across the city – neighborhood to neighborhood, school to school, family to family, student to student. In my first term, I will establish 25 public-private school partnerships, 100 family-to-family partnerships and 100 affluent-working class partnerships.

Economic Development and Job Growth

CHALLENGE: Baltimore City will face a severe budget deficit and record levels of unemployment following the coronavirus pandemic

VISION: Protect jobs, support local businesses, expand the economy

OUR APPROACH: Assess damage and identify resources to support most impacted industries

The coronavirus pandemic was unforeseen and unplanned, but unfortunately will not be the last time this city faces an unforeseen crisis. Baltimore’s next leader will need to be able to bring together the best and brightest to address the issues facing the city and be prepared to act swiftly and efficiently in preparing for and responding to future crises.

Small businesses, minority- and women-owned business will face difficulty recovering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. As a city, we must find ways to restore cash to these businesses and assess city policies that will ease the transition to the ‘new normal’ post the COVID-19 pandemic. We can create an environment where our businesses can thrive and give them more flexibility as they recover from this difficult and unprecedented time.

As mayor, I will assess the damage that’s been done to the city’s economy, including what industries have been most severely impacted. I will work to identify resources that we can bring to provide support to the most impacted industries and businesses, while simultaneously expanding the economy and growing it.

 

CHALLENGE: Difficulty attracting entrepreneurs and businesses to Baltimore

VISION: Attract $1 billion of investment into Baltimore City

OUR APPROACH: Make Baltimore a place to live, work and thrive

As an accomplished entrepreneur and Baltimore business owner, I have built numerous businesses from the ground up and created hundreds of jobs in the community.

Drawing on that experience, I will be the city’s first “Mayor-Preneur” and will bring an entrepreneurial mindset to solving Baltimore’s economic issues.  I will support big and small businesses alike, making Baltimore a safe city where middle class families can live, work and thrive economically.

One of my primary objectives in my first term will be to attract $1 billion of investment into Baltimore City. I will do this by making Baltimore a self-reliant city, working with CEOs across the city, state and country to brings jobs to Baltimore and open businesses in Baltimore. Small and medium-sized businesses are the heart of the city’s economy. By focusing on emerging industries like artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, robotics, and biotechnology and middle-market businesses, we can make Baltimore an attractive city that young families will want to call home for the long haul.

Power of Faith-Based Community

CHALLENGE: Faith leaders and their parishioners receive few resources and little direction from the city’s elected officials

VISION: Leverage the power of the faith-based community

OUR APPROACH: Build relationships between city officials and faith communities across the city

As an ordained Elder in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, I understand the importance of faith-based institutions in connecting with and providing support to residents in their own communities. Many of Baltimore’s faith-based institutions are on the frontlines in communities plagued by crime and violence where they are the only source of hope for a future that is better than the present. As a young man growing up in the Cherry Hill community, it was our active and very present faith-based community that provided me moral guidance at a time in my life when I was torn between doing what was right or pursuing a path of crime and hopelessness.

Not only is it necessary for faith-based institutions across the city to come together to make a better future and help construct a “path to success” that young people can believe in and follow, but it is also necessary that city government officials collaborate with these institutions and their parishioners to transform Baltimore and the lives of all the people who live here. As mayor, I will make it a priority to connect with faith leaders across the city and work closely with them to achieve communal goals that benefit all our citizens.

“If people believe in their future, they are more likely to invest in it.”

-Bob Wallace