Dear Friends + Neighbors –
What a difference a year makes. This time last year, the polls were just opening. I was standing at William Paca Elementary School, waiting to greet the first voters of the day, and knowing that no matter the outcome of the election, I had run the best campaign I could. Looking back over my campaign, as I do from time to time, I am still inspired and grateful for the many people who helped carry me across the finish line – into a first place victory! If not for you and them, I would not be where I am today – able to represent the residents of Baltimore City in the General Assembly.
If you don’t follow me on Facebook or haven’t been to one of the 24 community association meetings I have spoken at in the past 60 days, you may wonder what I have been doing since session adjourned in mid-April! Here are a few of the things I’ve working on . . .
Moving Forward in Baltimore City…
It has been a tumultuous time in Baltimore. Following one of the most challenging nights in Baltimore’s recent history on April 27, and a month that saw a huge rise in homicides, I have also seen a renewed determination and sense of hope in the communities that I have visited. Baltimore will, and must, continue to move forward on a journey to renewal. Recent events have brought a new sense of urgency to our task.
In the past decade, many of our neighborhoods have become safer and greener, and home to more good-paying jobs and great schools. But many still have far to go. As I often said while canvassing our District last year, we all do better when we all do better. We must work to heal our communities, continue to build so that all our neighborhoods are safe and strong, and ensure that all of Baltimore’s children have the opportunity to succeed. That is why I ran for office: to engage in hard conversations about the direction our City and State are moving, to work for equal opportunity for everyone, to help create jobs and support our small businesses, and to lead our City and State toward a brighter future.
Community Picnic in the Park…
Our parks should be welcoming spaces for everyone – and I am determined, now more than ever, to break down invisible neighborhood boundary lines so that all Baltimore residents can enjoy our green spaces. Even before April 27, I had begun to plan a Community Picnic in the Park – and the events this spring added new urgency to the need to celebrate and build community. I held my first annual Community Picnic in the Park on May 31, 2015 – and it was a huge success! We had over 250 adults and dozens of children from nearly every neighborhood around District 46 come together for BBQ, ice cream, face painting, games, and camaraderie. We had numerous community organizations, like Big Brother Big Sister and BARCS, bring volunteers and information to share. And, we were joined by a variety of public servants – local and federal – including Sen. Cardin, and Reps. Cummings, Sarbanes, and Van Hollen!
Many people thanked me for hosting this free community event, and I’m so excited to make it a new Baltimore tradition! So, keep a Sunday afternoon in late May 2016 free so you can join me and my family next year…
Continuing to Advocate …
When I ran for office, I didn’t run just to hold the job – I ran to do the job. Although session is over, the work certainly is not. I introduced several bills during session that did not pass, and I am continuing to meet with stakeholders and potential partners to strategize about how we can move those issues forward next year.
One issue that has come up over and over again in my meetings is the need for better public transit. I could not agree more. Baltimore will never be a truly great city without a first-class public transit system. Because nearly all of our public transit is run at the State level by MTA, I introduced a bill to reform MTA during session. Although HB 546didn’t pass, its introduction has led to renewed scrutiny by the Transportation and Budget Committees to ensure that MTA is serving the needs of Baltimoreans and Marylanders. As part of that effort, I have been working with MDOT to start a series of MTA Stakeholder Meetings.
I want your feedback and ideas on MTA! Take a moment to fill out my MTA User Survey and pass it along to others!
Public transit is not just a matter of convenience. As the New York Times recently reported, “commuting time has emerged as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty.” Interestingly, of all the neighborhoods in Baltimore City, the one where the highest number of residents have commutes over 45 minutes is Sandtown-Winchester. In other words, public transit is not just a matter of convenience – it is a matter of social justice. I will continue to work for better public transit to ensure that people have access to good jobs, and we are reducing traffic and congestion in our city.
I have also continued to be engaged on issues related to our public schools and school discipline, environmental justice, and housing and community development. If you have ideas or concerns, please reach out to me!
In the Community…
In addition to attending community meetings all around District 46, I have also attended numerous community events, including –
- The release of the Harbor Report Card
- The opening of our district’s newest farmers market – in Westport
- A presentation with Transit Choices, where I discussed my idea to create a Board of Directors for MTA
- The release of the Opportunity Collaborative Regional Plan for Sustainable Development
- Digital Harbor High School’s Awards Ceremony – where I presented my first two scholarship awards, and
- The award ceremony for Arundel Elementary/Middle School in Cherry Hill – winner of the statewide Maryland #NoKidHungry #BreakfastChallenge!
One of my favorite mornings was spent with the second graders of William Paca Elementary/Middle Schools. The students asked me about running for office (“Did you really knock on 14,000 doors? How long did that take?”) and what is was like to be a legislator (“Do you ever get to see your family?”). I look forward to speaking to more classes next year about the importance of being involved, voting, and working in your community. I hope I can inspire the next generation of public servants in Baltimore!
At the end of the day, I am here to serve the residents of District 46! That means, if you live in District 46 and you have a problem – I’d like to do all I can to help. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and my legislative director Kim and I will help figure out how to solve the issues you’re confronting. (And, if you’d like a Brooke Lierman #Bmore Local reusable bag to use when grocery shopping, just send me an email with your address and we’ll mail you one!)
A year after one of the proudest days I my life – June 24, 2014 – I am eternally grateful to all of you for placing your trust in me in this important role. I continue to try to do my best each and every day to build a better Baltimore, and a better Maryland.
Have a great summer, and keep in touch!