Connor Meek sent out an introductory email that contains his ideas and platform. The email is below:
If you’re waiting for a mayoral candidate with dedication, experience, morals, charisma, sincerity, and expertise in several relevant fields, that’s perfect. Because you and I are waiting for the same thing. But we’re just waiting.
We can wait, or we can use any and all public forums to come up with our own plan, collectively, on our own time. It should not be my platform. It should be open for adoption, revision, or derision by any citizen of our city. It should improve every day. And if it doesn’t appeal to you, I sincerely encourage you to write your own. What matters most to you, personally? If you think that no one will read your statement, you’re wrong. I will.
We should each give what we can instead of waiting for one person to give their all.
There are very few actual requirements for mayoral candidates, with good reason – Leadership is not something that can easily be defined. It’s fluid – it adapts to meet the needs of the times, and means different things to the many diverse individuals who seek it. I am not claiming to be a true leader, but I believe if we give this initiative our best effort, an honest attempt to collectively bring about change in our city, we will find that many of us are.
My recent AMA interview was an emotionally taxing process. It was a positive experience, through which I have already grown in many ways. This campaign is a learning process that’s only just begun, and I’d like to sincerely thank everyone who took part, and encourage others to contribute to this discussion in the future.
I have constructed a platform with help from numerous citizens. This is version 1.0, and hopefully we will make many improvements over the coming months. Many of our issues are too complex to be expressed in bullet points. But more voices must be heard, opinions considered, in order for this document to truly take on a life of its own, truly represent the people of Baltimore. Organizing this project will be a tremendous task, especially if we can muster the magnitude of response I’ll be praying for, but I will do my best to live up to the challenge.
I may have missed some small points. I also may have missed some massive issues that any mayoral candidate with any sense at all would include on their platform. I need help. Please be my, our resources. Contact me with any information, concerns, or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The success of any endeavor depends ultimately on our ability to embrace it as a learning experience.
If you support this initiative, please do what you can to spread this concept beyond this forum in an attempt to seek input from those currently suffering in our city.
I will collect the signatures required to appear on the ballot. You will have the option of voting for me in November. But if a more qualified candidate enters the race, they will benefit tremendously from a platform written for them by the citizens of Baltimore. We will all benefit tremendously.
I do hope some of you embrace this idea, but I thank you all very much either way.
In many ways we have become three opposing forces with the same goal. In the recent months we have seen ample evidence that there is a lack of communication and cooperation between the police, the citizens, and the Mayor’s Office. At the Central District’s recent public safety forum there was without a doubt the potential for change and growth. The Mayor and the Police Commissioner sat front and center, vulnerable, deer in headlights. Citizens packed the venue, with many police officers present as well. We asked, they answered, we spoke, they listened, we laughed, and at times we cried. Regardless of the questions, the answers, the tears – we felt a positive energy. It was powerful, and I was touched by every person who spoke that night, and I left with more respect and more appreciation for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis than I had ever had before. Let’s build on that.
We must also each take personal initiative to get involved in our local community organizations. Every person has something to contribute.
The common solution overheard on the streets of Baltimore is that we must start from scratch. Fire everyone on the police force. Not only is that unrealistic, it’s unfair. We need to treat police officers as individuals. Learn their names. Hold them accountable as individuals, not as a group.
And they need to target crimes – not corners, not neighborhoods, not races, not genders, but crimes. Arrest offenders and only offenders. Do not violate our rights and expect us to comply. Do not murder us.
Also, more training, more psychological support, more vetting, less militarization, less paid leave, transparency into disciplinary actions, more accountability, more police walking the beat, less cops waving guns at crowds, improved public relations, qualified dispatchers, more cooperation, take off your sunglasses, introduce yourselves, patrol the parks, and some of us think civilians should be able to issue parking tickets to police cars. And the police department should have a highly developed whistle-blower protection policy, or even a promotion policy. The fraternal nature of the department is not conducive to gaining our trust or serving the community.
I have not heard many specific issues from professionals in this field, and encourage input from any parents, teachers, or students. The city’s students and educators need more funding, support, and appreciation. I’d like detailed suggestions on ways to bring that about.
Public Image and Tourism
It will not be an easy task to restore Baltimore’s public image. We’ve done so much damage. We can restore our public image and tourist appeal by becoming more active. We have so many events – outdoor movies, sculpture races, book festivals – but why stop? There are more venues, neighborhoods, parking lots, and afternoons to use for community engagements. Instead of trying to convince the world that we’re a friendly city, let’s try harder to be a friendly city.
We have no choice but to rebuild Baltimore. We can wait for private investors to do it for us, but they’d really be doing it for themselves. Vacants to Value is an admirable initiative, but I can’t help but think that whatever fund we’re pulling all of this police brutality settlement money out of could probably be put to better use. Someone offered what I considered an excellent idea. He suggested fixing up some of the abandoned houses and giving them away in a raffle. I suggest we give them away to good Samaritans. You can nominate someone that you feel has benefited the community, and we can give them a house if their income is below a certain level. Not only would we be restoring Baltimore and rewarding good deeds, but we’d also be encouraging kindness and strengthening the community. And if we’re really really nice about it, I bet we can talk Kevin Plank into funding the renovation of few houses to get us started. He’s a nice guy. Let’s ask how many houses he’ll give us if we give him the Baltimore Hilton. Like playing Monopoly in reverse.
And also, one gentleman mentioned the issue of blighted neighborhoods as well, suggesting that properties left vacant for long periods of time “should have the ever-loving holy hell taxed out of them to create an incentive to sell to people who will actually do something constructive with them.” I like it.
No one can address this in a paragraph. After three hours, I realized I was a fool to try.
Personal Economic Opportunity
Make it easier for our unemployed to find jobs. Encourage businesses to accept walk-in applicants or provide computer terminals on site for applicants.
We need to raise the minimum wage in Baltimore. Praise, appreciate, and frequent the businesses that pay their workers fairly.
Our city has several valuable resources for the unemployed, but we can always create more, and they should always be staffed by qualified and caring HR professionals.
With our Water Wheels in place, and with a swimmable harbor planned for the relatively near future, we are making an effort as a city. We can always do more. If the cost, environmental impact, horrendous traffic, and death-defying jaywalking displays haven’t already deterred you from driving a car in this city, you probably won’t be swayed by a platform initiative. But we can each do tremendous good for our environment if we simply stop littering. The city does not have nearly enough public trash cans. That wouldn’t hurt. And in Sydney, Australia they have reverse-vending machines to collect recycling: insert a few plastic bottles and receive a free bus pass.
Unreliable public transportation does untold damage to the city’s residents. Many have lost jobs or missed interviews due to lateness. Many prospective employers now ask if you have “personal” transportation. The city must do a better job of keeping a schedule, especially as we raise bus fares. The Charm City Circulator should always remain free. Charge for it and it’s just another bus.
There was much disappointment over the cancellation of the Red Line, which at least means we are aware of the problem. We have target areas and specific corridors that need easier access to the city. Hopefully we can draw some information from those scrapped plans to put toward another initiative.
Baltimore’s status as a sanctuary city has come up in the discussion. I support our current status, and would like to hear more discussion about the issue, as long as no one suggests we build a wall.
Baltimore is home to world class hospitals and the finest doctors, and the Affordable Care Act has made coverage more accessible than it had been before. But one concern recently expressed was the need for free mental health care, particularly for homeless or transient individuals. If these services exist please contact me with more information. Baltimore might also benefit from a well-advertised and free anger management program.
Campaign Finance Reform
I’ve committed myself to a cost-free campaign. Regardless of the outcome, every conversation, every signature, every email, and every vote in support of this campaign will be proof that communication is entirely free when it is direct. Campaign advertisements are intended to influence people without having to meet them. I’d rather just meet everybody. Don’t let any candidate buy their way out of talking to you.
I encourage anyone interested to run for office.
What do we have to hide?