Baltimore Fishbowl asked candidates running in this year’s election to share their views on the three most important challenges facing Baltimore and the region, and solutions they support to make progress.
We asked candidates to submit a video answering that question, so you can hear their ideas and goals in their own words. Non-profit executive and lawyer Jon Baron, a Democrat and Montgomery County resident, is running for governor, and highlighted education, workforce development and public safety as three critical issues he would address as governor.
Hi, I’m Jon Baron. I’m a former non-profit executive. Before that I headed a billion-dollar technology program in the Clinton administration. I’ve been an appointee of Democratic and Republican Presidents. I’ve gotten major federal legislation enacted into law that’s benefited Maryland and other states. My running mate is Natalie Williams, who’s an accomplished political leader, communications professional, healthcare advocate and mom.
Natalie and I are running because Maryland is not making progress on major problems that damage millions of lives. And we’re offering a fundamentally different approach in education.
More than a quarter of eighth graders in our state cannot read. At a basic level, those numbers are no different than 20 years ago. In Baltimore, specifically, a quarter of kids never complete high school. More than half a million Marylanders live below the poverty line and our state has made no progress reducing our poverty rate.
In more than 30 years in public safety. Baltimore has seen seven straight years with over 300 homicides. These are levels not seen since the crime wave of the 1990s. Fellow Marylanders, we cannot just keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing for decades – rolling out one unproven government program after another and expect a different result. Because many programs, no matter how well meaning they are, just don’t work.
To make progress, we have to expand solutions that don’t just sound like good ideas but have actually been tested in the real world and shown to improve people’s lives. That has been the mission of my career, and of the bipartisan reforms that I’ve gotten enacted into law.
Now it’s time to bring this evidence-based approach that I’ve spearheaded to Maryland so when I’m the governor of Maryland, we’ll do what’s proven to work.
I’ll give you three quick examples in education. We will provide high quality tutoring to every struggling first and second grader in the entire state. Because that has been shown to move them up toward grade level early before the problems get serious and later grades.
We’re going to do this by recruiting an army of people from the community including retirees and recent college graduates to become tutors for a modest stipend as a public service.
In workforce development, we will partner with Maryland businesses to provide effective job training to every young adult in the state who wants to advance. If it’s done right, job training has been shown to increase earnings as much as 40%. But the key is to focus that training on fast-growing industries like IT and health care and to work hand in hand with employers who provide paid internships to the trainees.
Under our plan, the state will pay for the training the employers pay for the internships. Our economy gets skilled workers. Everyone benefits.
And public safety will partner with Baltimore officials to expand focus deterrence, which is a crime fighting approach that recognizes most violent crimes are committed by a relatively small number of individuals who are repeat violent offenders.
These individuals are invited to meet with community leaders, social service agencies and law enforcement. The meetings offer them positive supports, such as jobs and counseling, while also making clear that if they continue to act violently, there’ll be the focus of extraordinary attention from law enforcement.
In other cities, the strategy has been found to reduce homicides as much as 50%.
These are just three examples of what I do as governor. But here’s the key theme: If we simply continue on our current path, we’re going to be here in another 20 years and nothing will have changed.
To make progress, we have to zero in on solutions that are tested and shown effective. That’s why I’m running for governor. Let’s do what works.
Name: Jon Baron
Education: bachelor’s degree, Rice University; masters in public affairs, Princeton University; Yale Law School
Political party: Democrat
Professional background: vice president of evidence-based policy at Arnold Ventures; founder and president of Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy; program manager at Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research Program; counsel to House of Representatives Committee on Small Business.