Tag: mayoral campaign

Baltimore Mayoral Candidates Discuss Policy at OSI Forum

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DeRay Mckesson. Photo courtesy OSI Baltimore.
DeRay Mckesson. Photo courtesy OSI Baltimore.

The police budget, city school police, and subsidies for developers were front and center at Wednesday’s mayoral forum at West Baltimore’s Union Baptist Church– as candidates answered questions focusing on criminal justice and human rights.

Big Fish Q&A with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

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When Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake presided over Harborplace’s 30th anniversary ceremonies in July 2010, she unabashedly declared, “I remember being here when I was 10 when Harborplace opened. It was a fantastic day. I also used to work here as a puppet master at the Puppet Master.”

As a rule, politicians should probably avoid uttering the phrase “puppet master.” Even more important: best not to confess to operating as one in public. And yet, in this case at least, the admission was entirely harmless. While the job does not appear on Rawlings-Blake’s resume, as a young woman she worked as a puppeteer. Conjure in your mind Punch and Judy, Lamb Chop and Hush Puppy, and the Muppets; banish from your brain guileful, covert political manipulator.

The daughter of Howard “Pete” Rawlings (chair of the Maryland House of Delegates’ Appropriations Committee) and Dr. Nina Rawlings (a pediatrician), Rawlings-Blake was born in Baltimore and raised in the city’s Ashburton neighborhood. After graduating from Western High School in 1988, she earned an undergraduate degree in political science from Oberlin College in 1992, followed by a law degree from the University of Maryland in 1995. At that point she embarked on dual careers in public service and legal services: elected to the Baltimore City Council from the 4th District in 1995, two years later signing on as an attorney with the local Legal Aid Bureau.

From 1998 to 2007, Rawlings-Blake worked as a staff attorney for the Baltimore Office of the Public Defender, while continuing to serve as a council member, moving to the reconfigured 6th District in 2004 after the city switched to single-member district representation. She ascended to City Council president in 2007 and mayor in 2010, in both cases succeeding Sheila Dixon.

Rawlings-Blake, 41, lives in the city’s Coldspring neighborhood with her husband, Kent, and their daughter, Sophia.

Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.  

Make it happen.

When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?

I defined my goals at a very early age. I have so much love for Baltimore that I grew up knowing that I would use my skills and talents to make our city better. My most important goal is to make Baltimore a better place for my family and all of our families. Our city should be a place where families can choose good schools for their kids; where our streets are safer and families feel more secure in their homes; where neighbors work together and businesses choose to invest and create jobs.

What is the best advice you ever got that you followed?

Watch and listen to everything around you. Know your community and neighbors, and get involved in anything that can help you make the lives of others better. 

The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it?

“Quit politics.” I heard that right after I was elected [to the City Council] in 1995 and started studying for the bar exam. An older lawyer told me that I could be one or the other, and people wouldn’t respect me as a lawyer while I was in office. I studied hard, passed the bar on my first try, and practiced for about 10 years on behalf of indigent clients in Baltimore.

What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime?

I’ll name two. 1) That the squirrels that my mom named Michael and Suzy weren’t the same two squirrels every day when we saw them. 2) Unfortunately, that your metabolism really does slow down after 30.

What is the best moment of the day?

When I wake up and see my family.

What is on your bedside table?

My BlackBerry.

What is your favorite local charity?

 The Maryland Food Bank. 

 

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing?

Work hard, be honest, and protect your integrity.

Why are you successful?

I’ve been a successful public servant because I have a passion for helping others. The people I serve know that they can count on me to be honest.

Which book, film, TV show, or video game have you introduced to your daughter that has had a profound, positive effect on her? Describe that effect.

Sophia loves black history books, and a biography of [Olympic gold medal winner] Jesse Owens inspired her to begin to run track.

Orioles’ players have “at-bat” music, a song snippet–personally chosen by each team member to represent him–that plays over the Camden Yard sound system when they step into the batter’s box. What would be your at-bat song?

DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win.”

If re-elected mayor, which item will be foremost on your agenda–the specific initiative you immediately strive to accomplish?

My top priority for the next four years is addressing those issues that have the greatest impact on all of Baltimore’s families. We must redouble our efforts to create more jobs, make our streets safer, provide children with a quality education, and empower our neighborhoods. All of these issues hold equal value and must receive equal attention in order to move our city forward.

Big Fish Q & A With Baltimore Mayoral Candidate Catherine Pugh

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State Senator Catherine Pugh understands both the literal and figurative distinctions between distance racing and sprinting. An avid runner herself, 10 years ago, Pugh helped establish the city’s annual Baltimore Marathon, which in 2010 attracted more than 22,000 participants. Right now, though, she’s completely consumed by the breathless two-month-plus dash–early July filing date to mid-September primary election–that constitutes the Democratic mayoral campaign.

Though not a native Baltimorean–she was born in Norristown, Pa., grew up in nearby Philadelphia–Pugh, 61, has immersed herself in this city as a public servant, businesswoman, and civic activist since moving here in 1969.

After earning undergraduate and master’s degrees in business administration from Morgan State University in 1973 and 1977, respectively, Pugh embarked on a go-go working career that includes founding Baltimore’s first African American business newspaper and serving as dean and director of the local branch of Strayer Business College (now Strayer University). In 1988, she launched the public relations and consulting firm C.E. Pugh & Company, which she still runs as its CEO and president.

Elected to the Baltimore City Council from the 4th District in 1999, Pugh focused on planning, economic development, and urban affairs issues, before moving on to the Maryland General Assembly as a delegate (2005 to 2007) and state senator (2007 to the present) representing the city’s 40th District. In the latter capacity, she has championed legislation that secured scholarships for Baltimore students and increased the state’s minimum wage, while also backing a bill to sanction same-sex marriage in Maryland. Currently, she chairs the Legislative Black Caucus.

Outside of public office, Pugh has worked to boost city tourism, raise literacy rates, and promote healthier kids’ lifestyles. A resident of Ashburton, she announced her candidacy for mayor in June.

Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.

“But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” Matthew 19:26

When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?

Early in my childhood I was drawn to the idea of making a difference in the world. I believe we all have the potential to make the world a much better place for all people.

What is the best advice you ever got that you followed?

My father instilled in me a strong work ethic. He said I could do anything I wanted to do as long as I was willing to work hard to achieve my goals.

The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it?

I don’t spend much time on dwelling in the past. If someone has given me bad advice, I have long since moved on. I follow my instinct, and that has served me well so far.

What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime?

It’s not how many times you fall down in life; your true measure is getting back up.
Prayer really does change things!
We are the change we’ve been waiting for.
 
What is the best moment of the day?

I am a true believer in the powerful healing power of laughter. When I can share a good laugh with a friend or a stranger, it’s a good day.

What is on your bedside table?

The book Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Revival by Paul Grogan and Tony Proscio.

What is your favorite local charity?

Wow, there are just too many wonderful charities in Baltimore to choose just one. I serve on nearly 20 nonprofit and organization boards.

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing?
 
Study hard, get involved in your local community, dream big, and never, ever give up on yourself!

Why are you successful?

I recognize that my strength and success come from a power much greater than myself. I always put God first in everything I do.

You’re a longtime runner, even participating in marathons. Typically, how often–and how far–do you run each week? What’s your favorite place to run in the city? What running shoes do you currently wear?

I run every morning and average about five miles a day. I run through my neighborhood, Ashburton, and make my way all over the city. I own a lot of shoes but lately have been using a pair of New Balance.

You’ve written about–and advocated for–healthy children through exercise and proper diet. What’s your best tip for the parents of picky eaters?

Be creative and think out of the box. Focus on the healthy foods your picky eater will eat, and jazz it up by finding new variations in preparing their meals. The goal is to keep your child healthy and happy.

If elected mayor, which item will be foremost on your agenda–the specific initiative you immediately strive to accomplish?

On day one, I will begin working on my plan to employ every young person who wants a job in Baltimore. With public and private sector partnerships, I believe we can truly make a difference in the lives of our city’s young people.

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