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Primary Candidate Profile: Mark Parker, for Council District 1





In 1-2 sentences, explain why you are running for District 1 and what motivated you to seek this position.


I desire to serve my neighbors in the 1st District on the City Council because I am personally and professionally dedicated to public service within Baltimore City. It is a privilege to spend every day engaged deeply alongside my neighbors: listening, learning, and working together to solve problems. From one person's crisis, to a family's goals, to a community's struggles, to our city's systemic challenges--I take joy in making real, sustained, long-term progress towards stronger communities and a transformed city. I've worked alongside many elected officials, and I know how critical it is to have collaborative, thoughtful, and engaged leaders in those roles in order to make genuine progress together as a community.


In 1-2 sentences, describe how your background and/or previous experience has prepared you to serve as Councilman?


I have a lifetime of deep love for Baltimore and engagement in our communities. And I have fifteen years of showing up every day for and with neighbors and families across Southeast Baltimore: listening to their challenges and hopes, learning from their experiences, and helping to solve problems with them and break down barriers limiting their success. I know what it means to serve and to be accountable, every day, to my neighbors. I work with all kinds of people, from all kinds of cultures, and backgrounds, in all kinds of circumstances--and on all kinds of projects, from education to housing, parks to businesses, immigration to public health.


 What are your top 3 priorities or key goals if elected as Councilman?


My overriding priority is to come alongside neighbors, organizations, and other stakeholders to help support the stabilization and renewal of communities across East and Southeast Baltimore. No city has ever thrived—in terms of economics, family wellbeing, public safety, or anything—when entire swaths of the city have been neglected and functionally abandoned. We have plenty of work to do, and we have a great opportunity to support local leaders in renewing their own neighborhoods.


I am dedicated to furthering a family-focused agenda for Southeast Baltimore. This is a community where thousands of people are choosing to raise and nurture children. From high quality and affordable early childhood education, with great local public schools, with peaceful streets, with decent and affordable housing, with well-maintained and well-programmed parks, with access to family-supporting jobs: we have great strength already in this area, with plenty of room to grow.


Supporting our immigrant and refugee neighbors is key for the continued economic, cultural, and human development of Southeast Baltimore. Their struggles and their success are our struggles and success as a community--as was true with the generations of migrants before them. Public education, decent and affordable housing, support for small businesses, and access to family-supporting jobs are key for the growth and stability of this group of neighbors.


What do you see as the most pressing issue facing District 1 residents right now?


Over the next ten years, we have a real opportunity to stabilize and renew communities throughout East Baltimore--in the 1st, 12th, and 13th districts. Ongoing community-based efforts need sustained, engaged, and well-funded support from the city and the state in order to build livable communities across this part of the city. No city has ever thrived—in terms of economics, family wellbeing, public safety, or anything—when entire swaths of the city have been neglected and functionally abandoned.


Now is the time to come alongside engaged and visionary community leaders with the resources and the functional government systems necessary to renovate vacant properties, add new housing, increase homeownership, clear up trash, renew parks, provide for public safety, and strengthen public education.


We will do all of this to advance the health and quality-of-life of our neighbors, to enhance the livability of our communities, and to build the Baltimore that we want and that we deserve.


What else would you like voters to know? Feel free to share any other perspectives or details about your background, priorities and vision.


There are two ballot initiative proposals which seem likely to be on the ballot for our consideration in November. I am aware that the Renew Baltimore and slashing City Council membership initiatives may “sound good” to some people, especially those who generally haven’t been tracking the full scope of the proposals. I see it as imperative that my neighbors get more in-depth and thoughtful information about those ballot measures from me and other trusted leaders so that they can fully understand the negative impacts of both proposals on the city. An important part of building that awareness is delving into the motivations of those funding and supporting the initiatives, a small group of wealthy individuals completely dedicated to building their own power and cutting their taxes, no matter the harm to the city as a whole. The Renew Baltimore tax proposal, in particular, would be devastating for our city.


It is important that we decrease the property tax rate over time. But that has to happen alongside revenue increases that allow us to make real investments in our communities while also committing some small portion of those revenue increases into property tax relief. And there is no legitimate tax-cutting proposal which can operate independently of our budget decision-making. That is to say, a ballot initiative in November which slashes property tax rates while leaving the spending cuts until the next budget cycle is irrational, undemocratic, and imprudent. It is, essentially, just a big lie.


We’ll need to establish a well-organized and powerful coalition in order to be successful in defeating these in November–and I will certainly do all I can to advance that agenda alongside partners. That’s particularly important here in the First District, where high property values and taxes make the Renew Baltimore proposal sound particularly appealing at first glance.


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