City Council candidates speak at public forum

Written by on October 15, 2015 in Featured - No comments

On Thursday, October 8, the six men running for the 1st district council seat gathered for a forum at Thames Street Park in Fell’s Point.

Each candidate was given ten minutes to speak and then the audience was allowed to ask questions. The event’s organizers gave the candidates a list of pre-arranged topics to discuss, such as zoning and transportation mitigation.

Baltimore City Council candidates Matt McDaniel, Ed Marcinko, Zeke Cohen, Mark Edelson, Mark Parker, and Scott Goldman. | Photo by Gianna DeCarlo

Baltimore City Council candidates Matt McDaniel, Ed Marcinko, Zeke Cohen, Mark Edelson, Mark Parker, and Scott Goldman.
| Photo by Gianna DeCarlo

The first to speak was Mark Parker, a pastor from Highlandtown. Parker spoke about the importance of civic engagement and the powers citizens have when they band together.

“We have an opportunity to make it right, especially if we’re all involved in the conversation,” he said.
Parker said that there was a work group between developers and community leaders to figure out the best way to develop the district without straining the neighborhoods.

On crime, he said that we must acknowledge that the police are not only under-staffed but overworked too. To combat this, we must be willing to bring in other resources to find solutions to violence and crime.

“There’s more that we can do to work around the edges and be supportive of crime prevention here in the Southeast,” said Parker.

The next candidate to speak was retired Army officer and lawyer, Scott Goldman.

He said part of his platform is smart development that will help the district progress while preserving the historic neighborhoods and character. Goldman said disciplined leadership was needed.

“Whether it’s a small problem or a large problem, what underlies all these problems is that our city government is not functioning,” said Goldman. “When I got home from Afghanistan, I got sick and tired of feeling like our City Government is playing a game of whack-a-mole with our problems.  I’m running to get things done.  That’s been my experience as an Army officer and attorney.  And I know I can get things done for this district.”

He also called for rolling mitigation fees that are reevaluated every year to ensure proper payment from developers.

Following Goldman was Mark Edelson, a lawyer from  Canton. Edelson first tackled the city’s current zoning, which he said has failed. He also said that the mitigation fees paid by developers were inadequate. He referenced the 130 room hotel being built at Recreation Pier and how they are not building any parking spaces.

Edelson said the district needs somebody who is experienced in advocacy who can bring people together and encourages communication.

“We have to have a long-term vision,” said Edelson about traffic.

He said some solutions include better traffic lights, safer bike lanes and a bike share program, and traffic enforcement officers.

For safety, Edelson said the local police needs to connect with the community so they can respect and work with each other to solve issues with crime.

Next was Zeke Cohen, a former teacher and non-profit director. Cohen began by stating the importance of engaging young citizens and helping them get involved within their communities. To do this, Cohen said  Balti-more needs more options for early childhood development, such as universal pre-K.

“I believe we are a city in crisis, and in times of crisis, leaders step up. In all of my time here in Baltimore, I have not seen so much mistrust and disgust with our public institutions,” he said.

He also said that there hasn’t been good planning in the city and that there needs to be a partnership with the community to ensure that new construction is relevant and that residents don’t feel congested.

“Local government shouldn’t be some distant, democratic, abstract mess. Local government is all of us here in this park, I believe together we can build a local government that is worthy of the great citizens of Baltimore,” said Cohen.

Then the lone Republican in the group of six, lawyer Matt McDaniel, spoke. He said he would go against the status quo of Maryland’s leadership to enact change that will promote economic and population growth.

“If we want the city to grow, and we want to see more people in our city, and we want to spend more, we need more people there. We can’t have 0% growth and expect to be able to spend more on good programs.”

McDaniel called for city-wide audits to figure out where and how public services are losing money.

He said he would be an advocate for the 1st district in Annapolis by bringing a “bipartisan perspective.”

“We need somebody to be there that’s not beholden to anybody, who’s not beholden to 75 years of tradition. There’s not a Republican machine in Baltimore city, I’ve looked for them, there’s probably 3 or 4 people I’ve met,” said McDaniel with a laugh.

Ed Marcinko, a retired DEA agent, was the last candidate to present.

Marcinko called on his time in the DEA and as a community association president to show he was qualified to lead the community.

“I believe in boots on the ground. If you’re going to do something, set an example and do it. You have to be proactive if you want to be a councilman, you can’t be reactionary. You’ve got to bring everyone to the table to solve problems,” he said.

Marcinko said that the system was broken and could only be repaired when people come together and brainstorm effective solutions. He said that the neighbors needed to unite like the past generations that succeeded in stopping the plan to turn Fell’s Point into a highway.

Marcinko also said the city needs to encourage small businesses to come here by eliminating minor privilege fees and lowering their taxes.

by GIANNA DECARLO
EDITOR@BALTIMOREGUIDE.COM

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