At community forums during the Baltimore mayoral campaign season, David Warnock often told voters that he is a candidate who delivers on his promises. As the race was entering its final weekend before the April 26 primary, he sought to show that his campaign delivered on a promise even before votes were finished being cast.
Warnock rolled up on a Remington sidewalk in the old pickup truck that he’s used as a centerpiece in his TV campaign ads, and announced that he made visits to 276 neighborhoods. It marked the end of what he dubbed the “Turnaround Tour.” The final stop was Parts and Labor, Spike Gjerde’s butcher-focused eatery that would surely provide a fortifying meal following the many days on the streets.
A venture capitalist who founded Camden Partners, Warnock is among a group of self-identified City Hall outsiders vying to become the city’s next mayor in an election that’s seen as a big opportunity to bring change to Baltimore’s government.
Speaking at a podium and surrounded by supporters, he echoed this sentiment.
“Someone smart once told me that you need to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything,” he said. “We’ve been falling for anything for too long in this city. It’s time to stand for real change.”
Warnock talked about coming to the city in that pickup truck before the mayoral campaign, and he’s not a stranger to civic involvement, either. He’s a longtime board member with the Center for Urban Families, the founder of Green Street Academy in Northwest Baltimore and his foundation’s backing of the Baltimore Social Innovation Journal. He said that work has been about solving the city’s “jobs and opportunity problem.” And when we asked, that’s what he said jobs was the issue that was most on the minds of residents during the tour.
In a city that saw record crime last year, public safety is often considered that issue. But for Warnock, jobs are connected to public safety and other issues like housing. Plus, he said, most candidates in the race generally agree about police department steps like increasing foot patrols, body cameras and encouraging more cops to live in the city.
“At the end of the day, we will only solve the crime problem in Baltimore, when we solve the jobs and opportunity problem in Baltimore,” he said. “To give people real alternatives, young people, returning citizens and adults as well.”
Within City Hall, Warnock has talked about applying customer service practices from the business sector to City Hall and requiring independent audits of city and public school system finances to be conducted each year. He also wants the school board to be partially elected, and supports a modified version of the Red Line.
At the event, he also sought to address the matter of his chances for winning. A recent University of Baltimore/Baltimore Sun poll showed him running fourth, and recent campaign news featured a lot of Democratic politicians (and one former candidate) backing the frontrunner in that poll, State Sen. Catherine Pugh.
Warnock said his own internal polls showed him with “momentum.” He was asked about how to go from third to first, and started ticking off the names of many of the neighborhoods he visited.
He said he was aiming to “have the broadest group of voters — not just from one constituency, but people from all over this city.”