PoliticsWilliam J. Ford

Del. Barnes: ‘Disappointed’ by Black Agendas of Some Gubernatorial Candidates

Del. Darryl Barnes asked for each Maryland gubernatorial candidate to post a Black agenda on their websites by Monday, Nov. 1.

Barnes, a Democratic lawmaker from Prince George’s County, said the candidates who complied with a plan included state Comptroller Peter Franchot, Wes Moore, John King Jr. and Tom Perez, all of whom count as Democrats.

Barnes released a statement to express displeasure with the seven other candidates who didn’t have a specific plan posted on Monday morning.

“I will urge Black Marylanders to look seriously at those bold and courageous candidates enough to have provided real agendas that address essential issues in our community like public education K-12, criminal justice, the environment and Black businesses,” said Barnes, who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland.

“For those who have dismissed the opportunity to address our community, this may be the time that Black Marylanders exercise their need to vote for a governor who is willing to be held accountable, rather than one who is already disappointing and disrespecting our families, neighborhoods and businesses.”

Libertarian candidate David Lashar of Annapolis wasn’t mentioned in Barnes’ letter but he posted a “Libertarian Black Agenda” that includes expansion of school choice in the elementary and secondary schools, promoting affordable housing by working with local communities and potentially releasing non-violent offenders at state correctional facilities, especially those impacted by the “war on drugs.”

Although the legislative Black caucus doesn’t endorse candidates, the letter summarized how Franchot became the first candidate to present a cohesive plan with new ideas that considered the whole Black community.”

Members of Franchot’s campaign distributed the document Oct. 14 at a candidate’s reception in Anne Arundel County. His plan calls for 40 percent participation by Minority Business Enterprises (MBE) in the cannabis industry. He chose Prince George’s County Council member Monique Anderson-Walker, a Black woman, as his running mate.

Five days after the reception, Moore released his plan that calls for the state to evaluate how climate impacts transportation decisions that often harm low-income and Black and Latino communities, ensure community college orientations provide information on housing programs and remove barriers to state financial aid for individuals with criminal records.

In his plan, King, former U.S. education secretary, suggests investing $4 million annually for a historically Black college and university teacher recruitment and preparation program; creating a permanent task force to analyze racial disparities in the state’s health care system; and requiring that landlords pay surcharges when filing for civil cases in eviction proceedings as a way to deter “unnecessary eviction action.”

Perez, former chair of the Democratic National Committee, notes in his plan that the state should invest in school construction to alleviate overcrowding; leverage federal state and local and private sector resources to inspect, test and remediate lead paint in homes and schools; and connect the MARC train with the Virginia Railway Express to boost transportation in the Baltimore-Washington in a move that he says would triple MARC ridership.

At least two other Democratic candidates posted a Black agenda Monday – Jon Baron and former state Attorney General Doug Gansler.

Baron, a former nonprofit executive, has outlined a proposal to offer tutoring to struggling first- and second-grade students statewide. His plan recommends pairing barber shops with pharmacists to offer blood screening for Black men and offer drug treatment courts for those convicted of non-violent, drug-related offenses.

Gansler’s plan, labeled “Sunlight of Opportunity,” would require police officers to hold at least a community college degree and would bring every police shooting before a grand jury. Other parts of the plan indicate he would work with the state Commission for Civil Rights to assess the enforcement of fair housing laws.

Baltimore businessman Mike Rosenbaum released an economic plan Thursday, Oct. 28 that proposes creating a program called “Transform Maryland 2030 to help 100,000 Black residents. It focuses on careers in technology, health care, manufacturing and trade jobs, providing at least a $15 an hour wage when a person begins a skills development or apprenticeship program.

Former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III said at last month’s candidate’s reception he would produce his plan in a few weeks but added one was unnecessary because of previous elected Black leaders’ plans. Baker and his running mate, Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro, announced Oct. 29 the campaign will only accept grassroots contributions driven by local donors “and not take a dime from special interests, corporations, or PACs (Political Action Committees).”

The ninth Democratic candidate, Ashwani Jain, who works as program director for the National Kidney Foundation serving the DMV region, has said part of his campaign platform represents a Black agenda. Specifics include guaranteeing free public transit, eliminating the state income tax and removing school resource officers and replacing them with school psychologists and guidance counselors.

As of 8 p.m. Monday, a Black agenda had not been posted online from the three Republican candidates: Robin Ficker, Del. Daniel L. Cox, who represents parts of Carroll and Frederick counties, and Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz of Frederick County, the only woman in the race.

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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