The plan to change Baltimore from what it was to what it can be came via DeRayforMayor.com, where Black Lives Matter activist, DeRay McKesson comprehensively presents his platform and states the issues he will target in order to move the city from confrontation to solutions
The website includes a combination of videos and position/policy perspectives in three areas: education and youth development, community prosperity, and safety with more to come. “Together we will win,” is one of the videos that introduces voters to the 30-year old activist and his beliefs. It shows him interacting with varied groups and races and can be part of the missing puzzle McKesson needed to be taken seriously on the ground in Baltimore.
The most interesting of his positions is his plan to reshape the Baltimore City public school system. He is calling for audits and accountability which is sorely needed. The problem however is that Baltimore is under a consent decree meaning the State of Maryland gave Baltimore money, but no control over the daily operations of the school system (only input on the selection of a Superintendent). Implementing any new ideas would require the new mayor to ask the legislature to redo the agreement which isn’t likely in lieu of a major cut funding this year. It was prompted a few years ago after state officials found the system was inflating with enrollment stats, that some call “ghost students.”
I’m running to be the 50th Mayor of Baltimore City, a city of promise and possibility. Together, we will win.https://t.co/xvIpx997tt
— deray mckesson (@deray) February 12, 2016
The other major area he is reshaping is in public safety. His involvement in Ferguson, Mo., after the Michael Brown case and in Baltimore after the Freddie Gray case gave him keen insight on what’s needed. According to the site he would “change the use of force policy.” He wants the police “eliminate the reaching for weapon excuse.” Lastly, he would end the war of drugs by moving people to treatment rather than incarceration.
When it comes to community prosperity, he is under no illusions that tax incentives and breaks given to developers and businesses leave a number of communities behind. Some of his proposals include a mandatory $15 an hour wage, hiring employees from disadvantaged communities, and working with community development financial institutions to lend to those who have been shutout from getting loans. Of the Baltimore candidates who are running for Mayor his is only one of two — the other being councilman Nick Mosby — who has laid out specific plans.
One of the most heartfelt testimonials comes from his father, Calvin McKesson. The elder McKesson, who’s 26 years sober, reminds Baltimore voters that his son knows firsthand the tragedy of drugs and will “clean the streets up…He will challenge people to stop the status quo…we don’t need promises, we action.”
The novice candidate has a large following from outside of Maryland as well. Those followers helped him raise more than $70,000 in a week via CrowdPac (the fastest of the all candidates to garner this much money, except for those who are self-financed).
It’s still unclear if McKesson will say goodbye to his trademark the blue vest (it actually has its own hashtag on Twitter). He’s comfortable talking to crowds who have a vested interest in what he’s saying. But, can he expand the audience to those who may not know anything about him, and convince them he’s the right person to lead Baltimore to higher prosperity? Only time will tell.