The sixth in a series of questionnaires answered by candidates running for their party’s nomination for mayor. Catalina Byrd was the only Republican candidate who submitted responses to our questionnaire.
Catalina Byrd is a co-chair for the Women’s Commission of Baltimore City, and chair of the commission’s domestic violence committee. She has appeared “Square Off with Richard Sher,” Roland Martin’s “NewsOne Now” on TV One, Radio One WOLB, WEAA and WURD. Byrd first ran for mayor of Baltimore in 2011, but was unable to collect enough signatures to appear on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate.
1. What will your administration do to help residents, businesses and nonprofits after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed?
There has never been a public health crisis to this magnitude in my lifetime so let me preface by saying that my perceived strategy is based off science and instinct. I am not a public health expert:
Residents: Rent/Mortgage relief, self-employed/full-time artist support, and small-biz owners (to include those that operate from “home”), mid-size business will be connected to resources offered by state and federal agencies with city attempting to bridge the gap where possible via BDC (Baltimore Development Corporation).
Nonprofits: any and all nonprofits both currently in line items of city or state budgets for funding are to be convened and assessed to determine sustainability through redevelopment.
The platform already called for dramatic refocusing for economic development and equitable funding. Please see the West Baltimore Redevelopment Plan, located at www.Byrd4Baltimore.com.
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?
I did not create a “crime plan” when all others did. My public safety plan is on my website and has been since I launched in August 2019. It highlights redirecting some of our budget to better support the Baltimore City Fire Department, incorporate the University of Maryland Medical System’s School of Social Work’s trained clinicians, and embedding within the Baltimore Police Department.
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 are around the same level as 2019. Do you feel the plan is working?
I do NOT!
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?
As the question relates to public transit, I would have to work with MTA. As far as cycling, walking, etc.–I’m willing to discuss with Bikemore and other like groups if the conversation is centered in lowering carbon emissions and traffic calming and not anti-car, in which case I will still meet but I doubt they will go well if they seek to make another disciple.
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?
While I was quoted on Fox 45 for saying more attention should be paid to the panhandlers – the reality is there are people working with the actual “squeegee kids” that deserve institutional support: Kim Trueheart and Michael Scott.
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?
The census is done every 10 years. The fact that correctional facilities are allowed to count inmates as part of their population is a problem. Yes, Baltimore looks to have declined but it is because of the number of people in our system counted elsewhere. Let’s start there and then we can discuss recruiting new homeowners.
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?
These departures of outside entities give way to increased local inclusion.
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?
An equestrian training facility to be connected to Baltimore City Public Schools and the BPD Academy.
9. We’re coming up on the five-year anniversary of the Baltimore Uprising. What lessons did you learn from that?
Too many than can be explained in this format. I’m born and raised in 21217, had met Pepper prior to, and did bail watch with Todd Yeary, Jill Carter and Chris Ervin at the time. Still hits too close to home for me to surmise.