TRNN correspondent Taya Graham previews our upcoming coverage of the 2016 race with a focus on policy issues intended to benefit residents of Baltimore City
TAYA GRAHAM, TRNN: The Baltimore mayor’s race is wide open for the first time in years. Over 20 candidates have stepped into the ring, with challenges from every district. And without an incumbent mayor running, it’s anyone’s race, which means whoever’s elected mayor of Baltimore could change the destiny of the city. That’s why the Real News Network asked candidates’ views on specific policies, [key] to improve the lives of the people who live here, meaning tax breaks, policing, crime, and housing. Questions that focus on a central idea, that seems to define one of the most beleaguered, if not divided, cities in the country. Why does Baltimore appear to be run for the benefit of people who don’t live here? From the hundreds of millions of dollars of tax breaks to improve the Inner Harbor to fuel tourism, tax breaks that are unavailable to the bulk of city residents who pay the highest property taxes in the state, to the city’s massive law enforcement industrial complex, that sucks up three times more money that education, and is staffed primarily by outsiders. It is all part of a fiscal ecology that seems predicated on the economic wellbeing of nonresidents, which has in part fueled much of the frustration in 2015. DONNA GUINN: There’s, it’s so many people out here sleeping on the ground and stuff like that. They got empty buildings and stuff. They could have, you know, fixed them up for these people and stuff. They got money going every which way but toward them. GRAHAM: To the protests over decades of zero tolerance and aggressive policing, after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, to anger inside City Hall over a sex-for-repairs scheme, which preyed upon the vulnerable women living in city housing projects like Gilmor Homes. CITY RESIDENT: I had to agree to sign something under duress stating that I would willingly give up my apartment so that I could continue to get subsidized housing. LUCKY CROSBY: I notified the leaders personally about what I have found out in my investigation at Gilmor Homes. They did nothing but rebuke me, and suspend me. GRAHAM: And even in our city’s court system, which the Fair Housing Alliance recently revealed processed the highest number of evictions in the country, leaving many residents insecure in their own homes and unable to get landlords to make repairs. CITY RESIDENT: I have to worry about being evicted. Being threatened, being dragged into court and being threatened that you’re going to be put out. You know, when I had actually begged my landlord, you know. It’s, it’s just been one big emotional roller coaster for me. GRAHAM: All examples that residents say point to a city government that has not served the residents well. CITY RESIDENT: Stop getting police commissioners from New York City. That should be one thing. Like the last couple of ones we got that came from New York. And I really haven’t seen a difference. GRAHAM: Which is why over the course of the following weeks we will be airing unfiltered interviews with a wide range of mayoral candidates on these specific issues. Interviews which are intentionally focused on policies that would benefit not just developers and politicians, but the people who comprise a city looking for change. CITY RESIDENT: They can help these people more than what they’re doing. GRAHAM: This is Taya Graham, Stephen Janis, and Megan Sherman for the Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.