As June 24—the primary election—nears, Bill Romani, who is running for the House of Delegates for the 46th District, continues his efforts to get in front of voters. “How much time do you spend door-knocking?” is the question.
“All of it,” says Romani, adding that Daylight Savings Time has afforded even more opportunity.
A longer campaign season has also helped.
“It’s given us an opportunity to organize a little differently,” he says. “My universe is bigger than it was in 2010 [when Romani last ran for delegate].”
On the campaign trail, Romani touts his experience, including his careers as a physical therapist and teacher, as well as his work with One House at a Time auctioning vacant houses, his founding of the Mammojam Music Festival which has provided breast cancer screenings for uninsured women, and his current work as branch director at AARP Experience Corps, matching seniors with students in grades K-3, mentoring them and tutoring them in reading skills.
“My campaign has been based on the fact that I’ve been engaged in these neighborhoods on all these issues—healthcare, community development, education—for the past 15 years,” Romani says as he canvasses the Brewers Hill neighborhood with volunteers Robert Yochem and Carol Sholes.
“What’s the single biggest issue for voters in your opinion?”
Romani answers quickly: “The Red Line.” an unabashed supporter of the rail line—as proposed—Romani said in the candidates’ forum last month that the city’s likely $200 million portion of the cost could be paid in “in-kind” contributions, such as land or a deal to maintain the rail through a city agency such as the Department of Public Works. It wouldn’t necessarily have to write a check for $200 million to the Maryland Transit Authority, he said.
Romani acknowledged that forefront issue change periodically in the 46th District. Early in the year, violent crime “was front and center in the Southeast.”
Before that, it was liquor.
“In south Baltimore, at the end of last year and early part of this year, a lot of folks were talking about bars,” he said.
Romani believes that liquor laws need to be strengthened “so they stand on their own and provide clearer rules of engagement.”
Romani added that the intervention of public officials should not be necessary in every conflict.
He said that development–from Harbor Point to the Red Line to south Baltimore’s Ostend St. corridor connecting with the new casino–will be a front-and-center issue for some time.
The important thing in his candidacy, he said, has been his ability to stay on top of the issues.
“By continuing to come back, you have a really good sense over time of what the neighborhoods are concerned about—what’s affecting them,” he said.
By Romani’s estimate, he has knocked on about 11,000 doors personally.
“It allows you to engage in a more detailed conversation about the issues,” he said. “My goal has been to knock on every door personally—now I’m on my second time with a lot of them.”
by Erik Zygmont