First, let's attack crime Gubernatorial candidates' plans for Baltimore CAMPAIGN 1994

October 26, 1994|By Ellen Sauerbrey

AS A NATIVE Baltimorean, I have great affection for the city that is the hub of Maryland. Baltimore is the state's financial center; the location of one of our greatest economic resources, the Port of Baltimore; and is home to Maryland's largest cultural organizations and recreational facilities. It is important that Maryland's governor be committed to the city's health.

Like most large urban centers, Baltimore has persistent problems. As governor, I will initiate programs that will contribute to Baltimore's well-being.

Crime is a paramount problem for Baltimore, the subdivision with the state's highest crime rate. I believe the first obligation of government is to protect its citizens, and my anti-crime platform contains serious solutions to this problem.

I will work to abolish parole for violent offenders and establish mandatory sentences for crimes committed with any firearm as well as for convicted felons caught with guns. I will overhaul our juvenile justice system, revamp substance abuse programs and expand alternative sentencing for non-violent offenders.

Public safety will be my top funding priority. To ensure the reform of our criminal justice system, I will charge my lieutenant governor, Paul Rappaport, a former police chief with 37 years' experience in law enforcement, to coordinate a far-reaching, anti-crime program.

A key to solving many of Baltimore's problems is increasing the job base. Our state government has discouraged business growth through excessive taxation and over-regulation. A Sauerbrey administration will work to change the anti-business climate of the state so that businesses here will expand and companies looking to relocate will want to come here.

Programs I support that will be of special help to the city include investment tax credits for job creation, enterprise zones for urban communities and elimination of the capital gains tax on the sale of capital assets if the money is reinvested in Maryland small businesses. I will continue minority set-aside programs for state contracts which also help small businesses.

Baltimore's public housing department, which recently has come under heavy criticism from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is another problem area. I would favor the state playing a role in promoting tenant management and helping public housing residents obtain ownership of their units. Ownership would reduce government funding and reduce opportunities for corruption while fostering a spirit of responsibility and community.

Middle-class flight is partly the result of Baltimore's unsatisfactory schools, a problem that has escalated even as funding has increased. Sadly, inner-city children, especially poor ones, remain without many options for obtaining a good education.

I advocate introducing the proven American values of choice and competition into the educational system. It is time to replace the emphasis on central planning by Washington and Annapolis and allow local communities a much larger say in how their school systems are run.

No child should be forced to attend a school that is dirty, violent and/or without adequate tools for learning. Competition is the key that will force improvement of public schools. I want parents to have many more options at the local level for educating their children, including charter schools (public schools operated by parents, businesses and others, but not the school board) and vouchers that could be used at the schools of their choice.

Welfare reform is also especially important, because Baltimore contains the state's largest population of welfare recipients. I would change our welfare policies so that they would encourage the maintenance of two-parent families and help recipients move into jobs.

Families and businesses want the same things -- good schools, safe streets, lower taxes. These are my objectives for Baltimore and I believe they can be achieved if people of good will work together.

Ellen Sauerbrey is the Republican candidate for governor.

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