Democratic 1st district council hopefuls gather for candidate forum

Written by on August 19, 2015 in Featured - No comments
Marcinko, Parker, Goldman, Edelson, and Cohen at the foum. | Photo by Gianna DeCarlo

Marcinko, Parker, Goldman, Edelson, and Cohen at the foum. | Photo by Gianna DeCarlo

On Thursday, August 13, Tavern 148 hosted a candidate forum for all five of the Democratic candidates running for the first district councilman. 

The event was hosted by Tavern 148’s owner, Corey LaPrade.

“I thought other people might be curious about who is running, so it’s an opportunity to see and talk to everybody. I think our neighborhood is really transitioning, with more young people who should care about this and this will help generate people’s interest,” said LaPrade. 

He also said that it is crucial that residents know the candidates so they have a better idea of who to vote for in the 2016 primaries

“Their backgrounds are very diverse, which you wouldn’t know if you looked at them. People need to hear their stories to understand where they stand,” he said.

First were opening statements. Each candidate was asked what they believed was the most critical issue the district faced.

 “The amount of violence in Baltimore is unacceptable and we need to deal with it. In the short-term, we need to change the way we’re policing, we need to adopt community policing and see the officers walking the street like they did back in the day,” said Zeke Cohen, a non-profit director.

 He said he would combat violence by promoting smart public investment in early childhood education which would reduce youth incarceration.

Next was Mark Edelson, a lawyer, who said he would focus on the lack of opportunities for the local community and for businesses looking to expand.  

“Opportunities for kids to genuinely feel like they are a part of the community, when they leave school they have somewhere to go and in the summer they have a place to learn and for recreation. We need to be working as a community to bring those opportunities to everybody. It needs to be through businesses and through the public sector,” he said.

Lawyer and Army veteran Scott Goldman’s opening statements were on the failure of the local government.  The government, he said, was “ineffective” and needs to be fixed to better serve the constituents. 

“You see it [the failure] in the simple things, in what we consider small issues like trash in the streets or the rats that eat that trash, to the more serious stuff like the crumbling infrastructure. We need confident disciplined leadership to get things done,” said Goldman. 

Mark Parker, a pastor, agreed with Cohen that a solution for violence and crime was needed. 

“We’re all connected and when things really get bad we really see how closely we’re tied to each other. The biggest challenge is that a 100 of our police officers have quit or retired since April. So, short-term, the goal is to increase recruitment to fill those needs.”

He said the city needs to invest in the police force and economic opportunities for the city’s youth. He said that the community needs to be empowered to stand up for itself. 

Retired DEA agent Ed Marcinko said the biggest concern is the economic disparity. He said that while the waterfront community is thriving, other parts of the city are being left behind. By expanding our interest in small business, a positive change will resonate throughout all of Baltimore, he said.

“In other parts of the city, they don’t have it as great as we do,” he said. “This district is very good, but we have to fine-tune it.  The status quo is just not working anymore. We need new change, new vision, new leadership.” 

A Q&A session followed the opening remarks.

What public leader, past or present, do you look up to?

Cohen: My fiancee, Reena

Edelson: Nelson Mandela

Goldman: Abraham Lincoln

Parker: Theodore McKeldin

Marcinko: Bill Gates

What is your favorite restaurant in the district?

Cohen: Matthew’s Pizza

Edelson: Cardinal Tavern

Goldman: Darbar

Parker: Samos

Marcinko: Any place they have wings and nachos.

What is the theme song of your campaign?

Cohen: “Let’s Get It On” -Marvin Gaye

Edelson: “Eye of the Tiger” -Survivor

Goldman: “Right Now” -Van Halen

Parker: “The Best is Yet to Come”-Frank Sinatra or “Canticle of the Turning” -Rory Cooney

Marcinko: “Don’t Back Down” -Tom Petty

What is the hidden treasure of the district?

Marcinko: small coffee shops, neighborhood bars, and treasured parks throughout the district

Parker: ethnic diversity

Goldman:  the courtyard in Fell’s Point next to Sofi’s Crepes.

Edelson: my neighbors

Cohen: Patterson Park Dry Cleaning and Laundry.

What is one thing we would be surprised to learn about you?

Cohen: My nickname is Zoomer.

Edelson: I was the TV news anchor of my high school’s live TV news broadcast.

Goldman: In college, I had a giant red beard and really long hair. 

Parker: Habla Espanol por veintidós anos. (I have spoken Spanish for 22 years)

Marcinko: I’ve been an alter server at Catholic masses since 1967.

Before the forum, each candidate chose a question about a major issue.

First was Cohen who was asked about improving public safety and addressing violence.

“I would shift the way we’re policing. The war on drugs have not worked and we need a new tactic with a focus on building community,” said Cohen.

He wants police to get out of their cars and engage with neighbors and walk beats. He called for more coordination between the mayor, the District Attorney and the police commissioner. The ultimate goal is to increase the amount of trust between citizens and their police, he said.

Both Marcinko and Parker were asked about improving transportation.

Marcinko said that an update to the transportation system was desperately needed since the routes were originally built in the 1950s. 

 “We have to focus on where people live, where they want to go, and where they work,” he said. This could be remedied with new bus routes to more populated places such as Hopkins and Canton Crossing.

Parker agreed and said that the MTA needs to be held accountable and truly work toward serving the people that use it. He suggested expanding the Charm City Circulator to Canton. He believes this would not only help commuters but benefit local small businesses as well. 

On the topic of small businesses, Goldman said that, in the short term, the city needs to eliminate the minor privilege fees that small businesses pay. He said they hinder growth and discourage new companies from coming to the district.

“We need to bring together all the resources, all the ideas to make sure that the long-term fundamental problems of inequality and violence get solved, only then are small businesses going to succeed,” said Goldman about a long-term plan. 

Edelson added that small businesses need opportunities, in commercial spaces and potential employees, to thrive.

 ‘We need to be a community that creates an opportunity for every single person in our community. We can look at all the issues we have, or we can say ‘this is an opportunity for us to come together and say no more. Baltimore deserves better. We’re all standing here because we love this city and we need to band together to create the opportunities we all need,” he said. 

This forum is likely to be the first of many for the candidates. 

by GIANNA DECARLO EDITOR@BALTIMOREGUIDE.COM

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