Baltimore Fishbowl | Peter Franchot on Baltimore’s challenges and solutions

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot is a Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

Baltimore Fishbowl asked candidates running for office this year to share their views on the three most significant challenges facing Baltimore and the region, and the solutions they support moving forward. We asked applicants to submit a video answering this question, so you can hear their ideas and goals in their own words.

Peter Franchot, Democrat and Comptroller of the State, is running for governor and nominated public safety; improve city schools; and infrastructure and jobs as the three most important issues he would address as governor.

Transcription

The three most significant challenges facing Baltimore in the region are, in my opinion, for the City of Baltimore: the number one priority is public safety; priority number two, almost as important as improving the city’s schools; the third priority is to develop infrastructure and jobs in Baltimore and the Baltimore area.

Let me address these three questions. And thank you for the opportunity to do it on Zoom.

Obviously, we can’t have a great state of Maryland if we don’t have a great city. As Governor, I am committed to investing in Baltimore to make it the epicenter of epic economic opportunity, and I will take an integrative approach to ensure Baltimore becomes the local focal point for our entire state.

public safety

I will fight violent crime across the city by working alongside local government and the community. As a former military veteran, I will have zero tolerance for any type of crime. I will also have zero tolerance for any type of police misconduct. I was in the army; I was a professional. I expect law enforcement to be professionals as well. But I’m not at all interested in crime hotspots affecting the economy.

And I will be extraordinarily vigorous. I will coordinate local, state and federal resources to target repeat violent offenders. On a regular basis (I) will work with U.S. Marshals and State Troopers to enforce outstanding warrants for violent offenders statewide, to ensure that every person in Maryland, regardless of zip code, feel safe in their community.

I actually believe that we need to broaden our understanding of crime, not only in terms of the causes that lead to it, but also the impacts it creates within a community. It steals the economic vitality of a Main Street neighborhood by creating trauma for children, creating fear and creating shoppers. And for all those who are close to the crime of violence. It is both a product and a driver of the negative social context that exists in certain neighborhoods.

I will also promote community policing of addiction treatment as a public health crisis by piloting a statewide pre-arrest diversion program for arrestees who suffer from addiction. I will support returning citizens with temporary job placement in housing, one-stop-shops.

Improve city schools

On the issue of improving schools in the city of Baltimore, throughout my tenure as comptroller, I voted for $2.3 billion to expand and renovate schools, fought to better maintain our facilities and nurture and lead efforts to teach financial literacy in high school so that all of our children can lead financially stable lives.

For more than a decade, I have demanded answers and action regarding the lack of healthy, air-conditioned classrooms in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Many of them have no heating. Many of them do not have air conditioning. The vast majority of classrooms I’m concerned about are located in the region’s poorest communities and neighborhoods, while modern climate-controlled schools are enjoyed by more affluent communities in Baltimore County and even the city of Baltimore.

After hearing stories from students, teachers and parents of the inhumane conditions in schools without air conditioning or heating, I used my seat on the Public Works Board to shed some light on the issue. I worked with the Maryland State Chapter of the NAACP to write a joint letter to the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice, requesting an investigation.

Thanks to my advocacy, the city of Baltimore accelerated the installation of air conditioning units and heating units in public schools. I will continue to push for accountability and taxpayer dollars to provide our children with safe and healthy classrooms where they can learn and succeed. It is completely and utterly unacceptable that tens of thousands of school children in the Baltimore area have to go home when the temperature rises. Just as I was an education-oriented controller, I will be an education-oriented governor. I have visited over 500 public schools across the state and have frequently spoken with students, teachers and administrators about how we can improve our education system.

These visits and interactions with students and teachers made me realize that the joy of teaching and learning has completely disappeared due to a lack of an engaging curriculum, adequate resources, and post-graduation opportunities.

In Baltimore City, my goal will be to make the classroom a place for students to come and learn, because not only will they enjoy the content, but they can also see how they will actually use the information they get in class to realizing economic opportunities.

This means moving away from reliance on standardized testing and instead focusing on experiential learning linked to professional training and immediate career opportunities, both as students and after graduation. Also, make sure each school has a mental health professional.

Infrastructure and jobs

Third, when it comes to the economy, infrastructure jobs in the Baltimore area, public transit in the Baltimore area, only 9% of jobs in the city of Baltimore are accessible by public transit. I believe we need to do better for our residents, with a thriving economy and the good quality of life they deserve. This will be a top priority for my administration.

And beyond the red line, we will seek to provide fast, safe, sustainable and reliable public transit throughout the Baltimore area dedicated to creating 100,000 family support jobs with pensions, health care.

And by joining a team bigger than yourself, I will create those jobs in the industries of the future. And I don’t think the state will partner with the private sector.

And finally, on the issue of economic growth, we’re going to attract young people from across the country and retain young people in their 20s and 30s who are already here in the state, saying that if you live, work and pay taxes for five years in the state of Maryland, we will repay your student loan.

It’s going to be a big draw for those young people we desperately need to win the economy of the future. We compete with our other states. We are very well placed geographically; we are going to be a rich state. But I intend to unify this state. I intend to unify the state around the concept of competent government.

And I will use the trust that people have in me as controller to have that trust in the state government.

And above all, I will use unification and competence to produce economic prosperity shared by all I can do. I’ve been your controller for 16 years. You entrusted me with your money. You could trust me with your money as governor. Thanks a lot.

Biographical information

Last name: Pierre Franchot

Age: 74

Education: Amherst College; Northeastern University School of Law

Political party: Democrat

Professional experience: state delegate representing Takoma Park and parts of Montgomery County from 1987 to 2007; Comptroller of Maryland from January 2007 to present; President of the National Retirement and Pension System and Member of the State Council for Public Works.

David Nikin
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