Over the past week, I have received many calls from friends and family asking me about the recent videos by Kim Klacik. My response to them: “The truth hurts.”
I grew up in Baltimore’s 7th councilmanic—the same area where Klacik’s video was filmed and which I am running to represent. My grandfather once owned an eatery off North Carey street and, as a young kid, I worked by his side serving carry-out meals to neighborhood families.
Today, that same eatery is owned by people who do not live in the 7th District, and it is surrounded by makeshift memorials comprised of empty Hennessy bottles commemorating those who were killed in drive-bys on the same corner where I once played.
I now have two kids of my own and live nearby in Penn-North. I’ve witnessed my neighborhood steadily deteriorate. Democrat candidates have made the same lame political excuses about systemic prejudice for 30 years. The way they blame Republicans, one would think the city council had been run entirely by Republicans for the past 70 years. But we know who runs the city and who is entirely responsible for the state or now finds itself in.
The same Democrats who complain about Mrs. Klacik’s video were elected years and years ago to solve the problems Kim bravely brought to light. Why so much outrage over this video? Mrs. Klacik only drew attention to a condition that I witness daily, which is rooted in decades of indifference and incompetence.
Rather than face the hard truth and admit that their governance has resulted in economic depression and a miseducated generation (if not two), Democrat candidates and politicians have made the same lame political excuses about “systemic prejudice” as the cause of the blight for 30-plus years. The way they blame Republicans, one would think the city council had been run entirely by Republicans for the past 70 years.
It would be insanity to think that the people who created the mess are capable of cleaning it up. Many of the Democrats who now complain about Mrs. Klacik’s video were elected years and years ago to solve the problems she bravely brought to light; and arguably, they made our problems go from bad to worse.
That is why a group of Republicans, including me, is running in Baltimore this election cycle. I am running as a Republican not because I fully endorse the President or the party on every stance; I do not. I am running because for too long, the one-party rule has given us more of the same.
My fellow Republican candidates and I are not cut from the same cloth as the Republicans that were previously the image of the party for many years. Nearly 80 percent of us are Black and many of us have been lifelong Democrats. But after seeing our schools underperform, our streets become lined with boarded-up houses, and crime go from bad to worse, we simply lost faith in Democratic one-party rule and are trying to take matters into our own hands.
We are very much aware of the issues facing our communities, and the nuances of how to work through them, because we come from these communities. Unentangled, we know that in order to stand tall, we must first kneel to help those in need.
We know that we need solutions that have been overlooked for too long —like making use of the Federal Opportunity Zones program in Mondawmin, strategic administrative audits of core city services, and reducing property taxes – because they are not as expedient (they require real, hands-on governance) or popular as entitlements. These solutions should have no political label, and they need strong leaders to carry them forward.
The city has an incredible opportunity to get our act together and elect a new generation that offers substantive solutions, not just easy soundbites. I encourage others from my district and throughout Baltimore to look past the smoke-and-mirror arguments presented by entrenched political hacks and take a serious look at each side. We need real change, not the same incompetence that has severely hurt communities like my own.
I’m glad that Mrs. Klacik has started a long-overdue conversation. It got us all talking, even if the truth hurts.