Baltimore Mayor Jack Young (D) defended the city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic after mayoral candidate Mary Miller said Young and his administration did not act quick enough to try and contain the spread of the virus.
“We partially activated our incident commander center in early January after the first case of COVID was announced in December in China. And I don’t know why she [Miller] doesn’t understand that even though you don’t see anything happening publicly-prep work was happening all the time,” Young told MarylandReporter.com in a phone interview on Wednesday.
“We were one of the first jurisdictions in the country to develop a 911 screening protocol. And we started meeting with our health, our office of emergency management, and our fire department, about this, back in early January.”
In a MarylandReporter article on Tuesday, Miller said she did not believe the city had a well-thought-out plan to respond to the virus, particularly on the “health-care front.” Miller said the slow response to the crisis could be attributed to that.
“I don’t think the city had a well-prepared plan to react to something of this nature or magnitude. And I think on the health-care front we’ve been scrambling to follow medical directives, to get the testing centers set up … we’ve not responded with the sort of speed and urgency that we would have hoped for. And I think a lot of that has to do with not having the emergency preparedness work in place ahead of time — regardless of what the situation could be.”
But Young said Miller is “off base.”
“I think she’s wrong to use this pandemic as a way to boost her campaign. And I’m really offended by that — even though her facts are incorrect. I’m feeding people. We’re housing our homeless people. We’re doing everything…we’re putting out information daily about the COVID-19. I don’t know; maybe she doesn’t have a TV.”
Young said Miller has copied many ideas from his platform in her campaign.
“Mary Miller has used everything that I’ve been doing in her campaign. She’s talking about my crime plan with my (police) commissioner. She would work closely with him. Because she knows its working…if you look at anything she’s doing and everything I’ve done — she’s a carbon copy of me. And I’m happy that she’s doing that. But she’s way off base with me being slow on the COVID. We were one of the first out of the gate.”
At a press briefing last month, Dr. Deborah Birx, who is the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, collectively praised Young, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bower and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney for their leadership during the pandemic.
Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus task force, publicly recognized the benefits of the public private partnership model here in #Baltimore during a #WhiteHouseBriefing last week. #coronavirusbalt pic.twitter.com/vOPSH2bhw4
— Mayor Bernard C. Jack Young (@mayorbcyoung) April 13, 2020
MarylandReporter.com asked Young what he believes the city’s biggest challenge is and how he would address it if he is elected to a term in his own right.
“The biggest challenge is people like Mary Miller that’s using a pandemic to boost her campaign.”
Young elaborated on that point.
“I became mayor after the indictment of a mayor, the second mayor to be indicted for some wrongdoing…I have guided this ship down the river the whole time not skipping a beat….I’ve only been in this job one year. And in the year that I have been here, I’ve guided this city with a steady hand and have been very progressive in just about everything that I’ve done.”
Young, 65, assumed office May 2, 2019, taking over after Catherine Pugh resigned. He previously served nine years as City Council president. Prior to that position, he was a council member for 14 years.
Miller, 64, served in three high-ranking posts at the Treasury Department under President Barack Obama, including under secretary for domestic finance and assistant secretary for financial markets. She was the director of the fixed income division when she left to join the Obama administration. Prior to joining the Treasury, she spent 26 years at the Baltimore-based global investment firm T. Rowe Price.
The primary election is on June 2. The winner of the primary is almost certain to win the general election as the city is overwhelmingly Democratic.
A recent poll showed Miller, former mayor Sheila Dixon and City Council President Brandon Scott in a three-way tie, with each candidate at 16 percent. The poll showed Young at 13 percent.