Mayoral candidate Mary W. Conaway announced yesterday that if elected, she would appoint a high-level Cabinet official to coordinate new anti-drug efforts in the city.
The official would oversee drug rehabilitation -- including job and literacy training -- among several city departments, said Conaway, who is the city's Register of Wills.
Vowing to help eradicate what she called "blight in Baltimore City," Conaway pledged to create an agency to keep track of addicts moving through corrections, parole and social service programs.
"There should be no holes in the safety net," she said. "When addicts fall between the cracks, they land in our communities."
Conaway admitted that such programs are costly -- and she has not yet formulated a plan for funding a new position and programs. She said she hopes to have a budget devised before the Democratic primary election next month.
"We will find the money," she said. "We might have to go to the lottery to get it."
She added, "I don't see this being any more expensive than the waste we have now. Crime is what's driving people out of the city, and crime comes from drugs."
Making the announcement outside City Hall, Conaway was joined by a half-dozen supporters, all wearing yellow hard hats, and her husband, Frank Conaway, who is Circuit Court Clerk and a candidate for council president.
The hard hats, she said, reflect her intentions to "help sweep away blight in Baltimore City."
Her so-called drug czar, Conaway said, would have the same status as the city solicitor and the director of public works. The official would coordinate drug treatment between the police, courts, health, corrections and family services, among other departments.
She also pledged to focus on the children of addicts and on providing job training and more support for addicts released from jail.