I love Baltimore. This city has made me the man that I am.
Like an old friend, I've seen it at its best and its most challenged. From Ms. Rainey's second grade class at Rosemont Elementary School to the mixes of K Swift & Miss Tony on 92Q, to the nights at Afram, Shake N Bake and the Inner Harbor, I was raised in the joy and charm of this city.
Like many others, I know this city's pain. As the child of two now-recovered addicts, I have lived through the impact of addiction. I too have received the call letting me know that another life has fallen victim to the violence of our city. Like so many other residents, I have watched our city deal what seems like an endless series of challenges and setbacks.
Perhaps because I have seen both the impact of addiction and the power of recovery, I hold tight to the notion that our history is not our destiny. That we are, and always will be, more than our pain. What we choose to do today and tomorrow will shape our future and build our reality. It is why I believe so strongly that Baltimore is, and has always been, a city of promise and possibility.
"I look forward to earning your vote and working with you to change the trajectory of Baltimore."
I have come to realize that the traditional pathway to politics, and the traditional politicians who follow these well-worn paths, will not lead us to the transformational change our city needs. Many have accepted that our current political reality is fixed and irreversible -- that we must resign ourselves to accept the way that City Hall functions, or the role of money and connections in dictating who runs and wins elections. They have bought into the notion that there is only one road that leads to serve as an elected leader.
It is easy to accept this, because those of us from Baltimore live and experience the failures of traditional politics and pathways to leadership. Too often the elected individuals we put our public trust in, disappoint us. We have lived through lofty promises and vague plans. We have come to expect little and accept less. When we rely on this traditional model of politics we are rewarded with consistent, disappointing results.
In order to achieve the promise of our city and become the Baltimore we know we can become, we must challenge the practices that have not and will not lead to transformation. We must demand more from our leaders and local government.
At its core, being the Mayor is about having a vision for the city that is both aspirational and grounded in reality. It is about demonstrating the ability to turn intentions into reality and maintaining the fortitude to see our ambitions met with strong implementation.
I am running to be the 50th Mayor of Baltimore in order to usher our city into an era where the government is accountable to its people and is aggressively innovative in how it identifies and solves its problems. We can build a Baltimore where more and more people want to live and work, and where everyone can thrive.
It is true that I am a non-traditional candidate -- I am not a former Mayor, City Councilman, state legislator, philanthropist or the son of a well-connected family. I am an activist, organizer, former teacher, and district administrator that intimately understands how interwoven our challenges and our solutions are.
I am a son of Baltimore.
I understand that issues of safety are more expansive than policing, and that to make the city as safe as we want it to be, we will have to address issues related to job development, job access, grade-level reading, transportation, and college readiness, amongst others.
I also understand that transparency is a core pillar of government integrity. We deserve to know where our city services -- from housing and sanitation, to schools and police -- are doing well and falling short. To this end, we must invest in a broad range of systems and structures of accountability and transparency, including the release of the internal audits of the Baltimore City Public School System along with annual and timely audits of all city agencies.
I am not the silver bullet for the challenges of our city -- no one individual is. But together, with the right ideas, the right passion, the right people, we can take this city in a new direction.
In the weeks ahead, I will release a policy platform and a plan for Baltimore that is rooted in these beliefs.
I look forward to earning your vote and working with you to change the trajectory of Baltimore.
Together, we will win.
This post was originally published on Medium.com