BALTIMORE FISHBOWL: The candidates on Baltimore’s challenges and their solutions: Peter Franchot

David Nitkin

JULY 6, 2022

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.

Peter Franchot, a Democrat and the state’s comptroller, is running for governor, and named public safety; improving city schools; and infrastructure and jobs as the three most important issues he would address as governor.

The three most important challenges that are facing Baltimore in the region are in my opinion for Baltimore City: Priority number one is public safety; priority number two, almost as important as improving city schools; priority number three is developing infrastructure and jobs in Baltimore and in the Baltimore region.

Let me just address all three of those. And thank you for the opportunity to do this over Zoom.

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

Public Safety

I’ll address violent crime throughout the city by working alongside the local government and the community. As a former Army veteran, I will have zero tolerance for any kind of crime. I will also have zero tolerance for any kind of police misconduct. I was in the Army; I was a professional. I expect law enforcement at equally to be professionals. But I am not interested at all in crime hotspots affecting the economy.

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

I actually believe we must broaden our understanding of crime, not just 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 neighborhood Main Street by creating trauma for children, by creating fear and shoppers. And for everybody who is proximate to violence crime. It’s a both a product of and a driver for the negative social context which exists in some neighborhoods.

I will also promote community policing treat addiction 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 housing job training placement, at one-stop shops.

Improving City Schools

On the issue of improving Baltimore City Schools, throughout my tenure as Comptroller, I voted for $2.3 billion to expand and renovate schools, fought to better sustain our existing facilities and maintain and led efforts to teach financial literacy in high school so that all our kids can lead financially stable lives.

For more than a decade, I have demanded answers and action on the absence of climate controlled healthy classrooms in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Many of them have no heat. Many of them have no air conditioning. The vast majority of the classrooms that 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 in Baltimore City.

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

Thanks to my advocacy, Baltimore City accelerated the installation of air conditioning units and heating units in public schools. I will continue to push for accountability ensure that taxpayer dollars provide our children with safe and healthy classrooms that are conducive to their learning and success. It is completely and utterly unacceptable that tens of thousands of school kids in the Baltimore region have to go home when the temperature rises. Just as I’ve been an education oriented controller, I will be an education oriented governor. I visited over 500 public schools across the state, and frequently engage with students, teachers and administrators and how we can improve our education system.

These visits and interactions with students and teachers have made me realize that the joy of teaching and learning has completely been taken away 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 who want to come to learn, because they will not only enjoy the content, but they also can see how they will tangibly use the information they gain in the classroom to achieve economic opportunities.

That means moving away from dependence on standardized testing, and instead centering on experiential learning that ties to skill training and immediate career opportunities, both as students and upon graduation. Also ensure that every school has a mental health professional.

Infrastructure and jobs

Thirdly, as far as the economy, infrastructure jobs in the Baltimore region, transit in the Baltimore region, only 9% of jobs in Baltimore City are accessible by public transit. I believe we must do better for our residents, with a thriving economy a 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 transit throughout the Baltimore region dedicated to creating 100,000 family supporting jobs with pensions, health care.

And joining a team that’s bigger than just yourself, I am going to create these jobs in the industries of the future. And I don’t think I’m going to have the state partner with the private sector.

And finally, on the issue of the economic growth, we’re going to attract young people from all over the country and retain young 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds who are here in the state already, by saying that if you live, work and pay taxes for five years in the State of Maryland, we will forgive your student loan.

That’s going to be a big attraction to these young people who we desperately need in order to win the economy of the future. We’re in competition with our fellow states. We’re very well placed geographically; we are going to be a wealthy state. But I intend to unify this state. I intend to unify the state around the concept of a competent government.

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

And most of all, I’m going to utilize the unification and the competence to produce economic prosperity that is shared by all I can do that. I’ve been your controller for 16 years. You’ve trusted me with your money. You could trust me with your money as governor. Thank you very much.

Biographical information

Name: Peter Franchot

Age: 74

Education: Amherst College; Northeastern University School of Law

Political party: Democrat

Professional background: state delegate representing Takoma Park and portions of Montgomery County from 1987 to 2007; Comptroller of Maryland from January 2007 to present; chair of the State Retirement and Pension System and member of the state Board of Public Works.