WASHINGTON — After jumping into the Baltimore mayoral race and raising over $77,000 in nine days, prominent civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson released pieces of his mayoral platform on Friday.
Equipped with web-slanted advertisements — created by the Democratic firm that has worked with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Terry McAuliffe and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio — Mckesson’s plan focuses on education, youth development, safety and community prosperity. He plans to release five additional pieces of the platform in the coming weeks.
“There’s no soundbite that I can give you that’s going to make this more enticing,” Mckesson told The Huffington Post prior to releasing the platform. “You should judge it. I believe in the platform. I think it will be a comprehensive platform.”
He added that he believed it would “be able to stand up to the test of experts.”
The 30-year-old Mckesson, a former school administrator, wants to reconfigure the role Baltimore’s government plays in the city’s schools.
He wants to expand full-day, public pre-K in order to enroll every low-income 3- and 4-year-old in the city; create literacy-rich educational environments to support children’s early cognitive development; set up full academic scholarships for low-income graduates of publics schools; and promote a “radical transformation” of Baltimore City Community College to improve graduation rates and create a stronger curriculum.
The activist is also demanding the release of internal audits from city schools, and wants to fix the public school funding formula to fill a gap in school funding that has left more than a hundred school staffers without jobs and schools with 170 vacant staff positions.
For his safety measures, Mckesson linked economics and education.
“For our kids to go to school they must be alive and for adults to work they must not be in jail,” he said in the platform, emphasizing the idea that community safety transcends policing.
The mayoral candidate suggests community-first responders to de-escalate conflict and prevent retaliation. Mckesson, unsurprisingly, also wants to eliminate policing methods that have killed black men nationwide — such as illegal chokeholds like the one that killed Eric Garner in New York, and the “rough ride” that caused the death of Charm City’s own Freddie Gray.
Mckesson also suggests that the city police department and courts no longer accept police officers’ excuse that they resorted to violence because they believed a suspect was “reaching for their weapon”; replacing standard firearms with smart guns; redistributing part of the Baltimore police budget to communities most affected by crime; and creating a city commission to divert drug addicts to treatment instead of jail.
The community prosperity portion of Mckesson’s platform focuses on economics. His main points address increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding youth employment by hiring directly from neighborhoods with high drop-out rates and unemployment, and establishing transitional work opportunities for ex-convicts and impoverished citizens.
“Prosperity acceleration occurs when we commit to an economic development plan that partners with our city, its residents, and is invested in the long-term success of Baltimore,” Mckesson’s plan says.
The cluttered Baltimore mayoral race includes 29 candidates. Thirteen of them are Democrats looking to claim incumbent Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s soon-to-be empty seat. Mckesson’s plan comes nine days after entering the race at the last possible hour, and he’s only the second candidate to release a mayoral plan.
Former mayor Sheila Dixon is currently the front-runner, with a January poll showing her with 27 percent of the vote. State Sen. Catherine Pugh comes in second, with just over 18 percent of the vote, according to the same poll. Carl Stokes is the only remaining candidate that polls over 10 percent, with 14.3 percent of the vote.
Nick J. Mosby, a city councilman and husband to Maryland Attorney General Marilyn Mosby, released a plan in January to improve Baltimore by “connecting the dots.”
The fact that Mckesson is only the second candidate to release a wide-ranging plan based on more than one specific issue has incensed the Baltimore native.
“The reality is, people, I’ve ran for what? Five days or something? And people are expecting the world. And we plan to deliver it,” Mckesson told The Huffington Post earlier this week. “People have been running for a year and have offered no plans, right? Literally none. And that is wild to me.”
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