Baltimore leaders see fresh start with victory for Maryland Governor-elect Wes Moore

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For many Baltimore residents, the history of Democrat Wes Moore Victory in the governor’s race on Tuesday couldn’t come soon enough.

It wasn’t just that Moore lives in Baltimore — although that was a big plus. It also meant they were much closer to the departure of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and the end of eight acrimonious years between the residents of Maryland’s largest city and a leader many believed to be working against them.

With Moore in charge, leaders here said, the relationship between the city and the governor’s mansion can begin to heal. And they’re counting down the days until Hogan leaves.

“A lot of us felt that our governor looked down on our city and didn’t always see us as part of the bigger picture of Maryland,” Del said. Stephanie M. Smith (D-Baltimore), a Moore supporter who represents East Baltimore and chairs the city’s delegation to the Maryland House of Delegates. “This is a city that was looking for a governor who was just a friend. But it would be better, at a minimum, to have a governor who believes in you, knows you, embraces you, and sees you as an integral part of our state.

The city’s frustrations with Hogan date back to 2015 during his first year in office when he disconnected the Red Line, a $2.9 billion light rail system project that had been planned for years and would have connected residents of some of the city’s poorest. downtown neighborhoods.

Where does Larry Hogan go from here?

Proponents said the east-west rail system would have brought the city closer together, made more jobs available to more people, and promoted economic development. Around $288 million had already been spent on the planning process which began in 2001. Hogan dismissed the plans and called the project “an unnecessary waste”. His decision meant that Baltimore would lose $900 million in federal funding that had already been earmarked for the project.

Hogan’s decision, announced the same day, to divert some state funding intended for the Red Line to the Purple Line in suburban Washington added salt to the wound. He also announced $2 billion in road spending statewide. Baltimore felt abandoned.

When Hogan’s Twitter account posted plans for the transportation projects, it included a map of Maryland that had a blank space where Baltimore should have been. The tweet was later deleted.

Moore, whose victory made him the country’s only current black governor and the third elected in its history, said the red line was a “key priority”.

“If you want to get the economy moving again, you have to be able to move people into jobs,” he told the Baltimore Sun in September. “We can’t think we’re going to budge as a state when every time we talk about Baltimore it’s with disdain. We can’t have a prosperous Maryland if Baltimore is in poor health.

Hogan has also regularly lambasted the city leaders for their handling of crime and their failure, he said, to prosecute violent criminals. Baltimore has recorded more than 300 homicides a year for the past seven years and is expected to top 300 again this year. In 2021, it had the highest homicide rate of any of the nation’s 50 largest cities. Earlier this year, Hogan and Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott engaged in heated back and forth, with each side accusing the other of not doing enough to tackle crime and its root causes.

“In February you assured us that a comprehensive plan was in place, but at this point I don’t believe anyone – including you – thinks it’s working,” Hogan wrote in a public letter to Scott in May. . “It’s time to see a real plan and real action now.”

“If the governor wanted to ask me about crime fighting, he could have asked me in person…but he chose not to and instead played public safety games,” he fired back. Scott. “Furthermore, since he took office, two things are true: he has refused to offer Baltimore any meaningful help, and crime has increased every year…The governor knows how to help, but he refuses to do it.”

Hogan also criticized Baltimore state attorney Marilyn Mosby for her approach to pursuing criminal convictions in the city. A year ago, he called for a review of his office’s funding and demanded data on prosecution rates. What Baltimore needed, Hogan said, was “a prosecutor who will actually prosecute violent criminals.”

Mosby fired back at Hogan, accusing him of not working with four Baltimore mayors and his police chiefs.

“Quite frankly, he’s been more concerned with pointing fingers at everyone than leading and delivering for a city that’s the heartbeat of this state,” Mosby said at a press conference.

In January, Mosby was indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of perjury and false loan applications. She ran for a third term but was defeated in the Democratic primary by defense attorney Ivan Bates.

Critics of Hogan in Baltimore say his administration underfunded and understaffed the state’s probation and parole system, resulting in little monitoring and assistance for those released from prison. Moore, on his campaign website, pledged to fill all vacancies, “conducting strict monitoring of high-risk individuals and leveraging local offices to connect people to behavioral health treatments, housing and employment”.

Moore also said he would work to rebuild relationships between Baltimore communities and law enforcement by increasing accountability and transparency and funding community policing programs.

Baltimore looked bowled over by Hogan’s decision on the red line, and the city’s relationship with him never recovered, Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen (D) said. On the contrary, he said, Hogan’s criticism of the city and the disdain he showed towards city leaders made the situation worse.

“Governor. Hogan treated Baltimore City like a rhetorical punching bag,” Cohen said. “Every time he hits him in the media, he seems to think his ratings are going up. But what has been unfortunate is that it has funded our public transit and sometimes our schools, while selling the narrative of local dysfunction.

In its op-ed endorsing Wes Moore last month on Republican nominee Dan Cox, the Baltimore Sun took a parting shot at Hogan for his treatment of the city, writing “Our current governor has too often sought to distance himself from Baltimore and its issues, including a legacy of systemic racism that has resulted in persistent issues of crime and poverty.

Asked to respond to criticism leveled by city leaders, Hogan’s spokesman Michael Ricci defended Hogan’s efforts on Baltimore’s behalf.

“The governor has always believed that a strong Maryland depends on a strong Baltimore, and has made unprecedented investments in city revitalization, infrastructure, school building and public safety,” Ricci wrote in an email on Wednesday. “He did it collaboratively, funding every request made by the mayor to address violent crime and working with legislative leaders to provide the greatest infusion of jobs to the central business district. There are important and hard-won gains on which the next administration can build.

And not all Baltimoreans agree that the governor has been uniformly hostile to the city.

Projects like the redevelopment of the Pimlico Racetrack and surrounding neighborhood and the CORE Project, a $75 million state investment to demolish derelict buildings to create green spaces and develop affordable and affordable housing. mixed use have made a real difference, said Howard Libit, executive director of the Jewish Council of Baltimore, former communications chief for former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

“These are going to be a big positive legacy for his work in Baltimore,” he said.

And others in Baltimore didn’t mind Hogan’s aggressive approach to the city.

“I liked the accountability he provided to Baltimore City because he spoke a bit more about what was going on here, especially with crime and how Marilyn Mosby ran his office,” said Kyna McKenzie, vice president of the Baltimore City Republican. To party. “I don’t believe that’s going to happen with Wes Moore.”

McKenzie knows that Republicans in Baltimore are vastly outnumbered in the city. Democrats hold all City Council seats and no Republican has served as mayor since Theodore McKeldin left office in 1967.

“It’s awful, honestly,” she said. “We are totally stuck here.”

Natalie McCabe, a 41-year-old therapist who voted for Moore on Tuesday, is happy to see Hogan go.

She said Hogan overlooked Maryland’s most populous city. “It’s easy to seek out the affluent side of Maryland,” she said. “Baltimore needs people who are going to line up and do what they say they are going to do. I want a better Baltimore that lives up to its potential. »

McCabe thought of nearby Columbia, Maryland, which has benefited from recent construction — from supermarkets to new homes. Slices of Baltimore, however, remain devastated. A few blocks from the elementary school where she voted, the neighborhood of Mondawmin – the site of a violent clash between teenagers and police after the funeral of Freddie Gray in 2015, a focal point of the city’s uprising sparked by the 25-year-old who died in police custody — could benefit from such investments, she said.

“They’re building this community,” McCabe said of Columbia. “Where is it in the Mondawmin community?”

Lauren Lumpkin and Erin Cox contributed to this report

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