Former Democratic candidate Liri Fusha answers our questions on jobs, crime and more

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This candidate has suspended their campaign for mayor of Baltimore, but we are publishing their responses to our candidate questionnaire below:

Liri Fusha immigrated to the United States from Albania. Since launching her mayoral campaign, Fusha has spoken in support of providing housing and mental health resources to people experiencing homelessness.

1. What will your administration do to help residents, businesses and nonprofits after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed?

My administration will immediately prepare an emergency plan to help residents and businesses after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed by aggressively using the budget stabilization reserves to help businesses by putting in place bridge loans and help employers who are not getting access to the federal and state programs.

2. Baltimore mayors have grappled with the city’s violent crime for years, and since 2015, the annual homicide rate has surpassed 300 people killed. Why is your plan the best to solve violent crime in the city?

My plan for Baltimore to solve violent crime is the best because we will be leadership who are unafraid to do the right thing over the a popular one or compromise with the police and Justice Department. One of the reasons Baltimore’s crimes are rising is because we are not transparent with constituents. Until we get this type of justice regulated, we are always going to get innocent police hurt and innocent citizens hurt.

People are frustrated with the current climate in Baltimore City. These stories are disturbing. There needs to be more humanity on everyone’s part, especially the police in so many circumstances. If we do not expose these stories, crime in Baltimore City will rise. If I am mayor for Baltimore City, I would work with law schools and expose these situations to restore the community’s trust.

3. The current mayor and police commissioner say the Baltimore Police Department’s plan to curb violent crime is working, and yet homicides in 2020 around the same level as 2019. Do you feel the plan is working?

The Baltimore Police Department’s plan to curb violent crime it is not working. In order to reduce the violence, we will work to minimize homelessness, joblessness, training the police how to be more humanitarian, and fight the corruption which has infected city officials. All current and future staff will be thoroughly vetted before taking office.

4. How would you improve and expand access throughout Baltimore to public transit, bicycling, walking and other transportation options not based around single-occupancy vehicles?

The City of Baltimore will commit to provide smart and sustainable transportation solutions for its residents. Popular among tourists and locals alike is the Charm City Circulator, which provides absolutely free daily bus service to Baltimore’s most popular areas. We will expand Charm City Buses to less popular areas. The City of Baltimore will invest in new and renewing bicycle friendly communities toward more vibrant, healthy, sustainable, safe and connected places.

5. The area has been transfixed with the “squeegee kid” debate about window-washers on Baltimore streets. What would your administration do to connect people who are eager to work with well-paying jobs?

Our administration will not approve of this, where kids, most of them black, are endangering their lives for a few bucks in busy downtown intersections. They dart among cars stopped at traffic lights and wash windshields unsolicited in hopes of a tip. Together with the community and the city council, we will find training for jobs suited for the squeegee kids to be safe and practice the youth free enterprise.

6. While many major cities have seen population growth in recent years, the number of people living in Baltimore continues to decline. What are your main strategies for building healthy neighborhoods throughout Baltimore, and making sure that investment is not concentrated in just a few areas so that current residents can participate in any resurgence?

As Mayor for Baltimore City, I’m looking to regain population by 6 percent. Improving the local economy in a way that’s inclusive to all residents and compare annual population growth with three economic indicators: per capita income, poverty and unemployment rates. A growing population means an expended work force. We will have new residents which means new customers for local businesses, which in turn increases tax revenue. With more revenue, we will invest more in roads, public transit, schools, the arts and parks.

To promote open government and transparency, we will attend community meetings. We will use the Office of the Inspector General to ensure accountability with city agencies. We will have vacant homes renovated to one-bedroom apartments for homeless and underprivileged individuals with funding from city bond sales. These individuals would then be employed paying rent to pay off bonds.

We will lower property taxes and water bills by using the mayor’s influence to legalize and tax cannabis. The new tax will generate more revenue than the reductions we propose. Neighborhood development and improving its local economy is the key. Baltimore still has a growing homeless population, particularly among young people.

Baltimore has struggled to gain and retain citizens like many cities built on an outdated economy. We will lead Baltimore City with strong, equitable, accessible, and representative democracy for every Baltimorean. We will grow the economy and reduce unemployment.

7. The acquisition of Legg Mason by Franklin Resources Inc., and the merger of WillScott Corp. and Mobile Mini Inc., signal the end of two corporate headquarters in the city. While that may not mean much to a lot of citizens, the city’s big companies, as the Baltimore Sun editorial board noted, populated the boards of many city arts, education and charitable enterprises, and had been leaders in the business community. Should the city be concerned by these transactions? And what will your administration do to attract the next Legg Mason and keep it?

Baltimore City has a potential for renaissance and even becoming a magnet for large corporate headquarters if we would reduce poverty and unemployment rates, vacant and blighted housing, violent crime, racial segregation and police brutality.

8. A bill to build new facilities at Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park recently became law. Aside from keeping the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, what, if anything, should the city push for when the new Pimlico is being developed?

The city should push for the new Pimlico being developed to leverage additional private investment, creating employment opportunities and dramatically impacting a wide swath of the city.

9. We’re coming up on the five-year anniversary of the Baltimore Uprising. What lessons did you learn from that?

The first lesson is to have an emergency plan and staff in place with trained officers having equipment like riot shields, helmets and full body suits. We need to have a SWAT team in place and ready when needed. I will support our police commissioner and give him or her the resources that they need to succeed in their job to use scale-proven strategies to stop the uprising.

Marcus Dieterle


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