By Regina Garcia Cano, The Associated Press
With youthful energy and optimistic rhetoric, the newly elected mayor of Baltimore will take over on Tuesday, trying to advance the city to a new generation of leadership that has been stagnating and backsliding for several decades.
But 36-year-old Democrat Brandon Scott is starting his new job in a historically difficult time. The city has recorded more than 300 murders for the sixth consecutive year, and its population, businesses, and tax revenues have not been spared by the coronovirus epidemic.
Now, Scott must find a way to balance the long-lasting effects of a public health emergency and his campaign to reduce crime, invest in schools, streamline City Hall, and create opportunities for youth.
In a city where Democrats outscored Republicans 10–1, Scott comfortably won the general election. Yet he will have to work to restore confidence in the mayor’s office – the last elected mayor is jailed for public corruption.
Scott told The Associated Press, “When I’m proud, elated and ready to lead this city … I’m not coming into it with rose-colored glasses.” “It is about working because we are at an important point for our city. The same thing happened before COVID, and still more has happened. Here in Baltimore, we have two public health emergencies: we have an epidemic of COVID and an epidemic of gun violence in our city, and we have to deal with both at the same time with the same power. “
Scott was a city council member since 2011 and became council president last year. After Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned and the then Council President Bernard “Jack” Young rose to replace her, her colleagues chose her for the job.
In June, Scott defeated Young, former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, and defeated other Democrats for the party’s nomination. They then picked up illegally dumped waste over the summer as part of weekend weekend cleanup efforts. He went on to defeat the nonprofit executive Republican Shannon Wright.
With an epidemic limiting indoor and outdoor public events, Scott’s inauguration will be a less important event on Tuesday with invited guests or dignitaries. He will give a brief address to the media after his swearing in city hall.
“Expectations are high because expectations are high,” said Milho Cromer, associate professor of political science and director of a politics center at Gaucher College in Towson, Maryland. “Like any executive, he will be given to the public at least for the honeymoon period, but in terms of public opinion, we do not know how the honeymoon period will be affected by the epidemic.”
“Baltimore is a majority black city, and we know that Black people have been absolutely influenced by COVID-19. So the stakes are high, definitely, ”Cromer said.
The highest priority of voters in Maryland’s largest city is reducing violent crime. Scott plans to implement a holistic approach involving city agencies, not just the police department. Scott said that using a police strategy known as a “group violence reduction strategy” could be effective, even if it failed during previous attempts.
As part of this targeted preventive strategy, law enforcement aims to prevent violence by identifying those who are in a position to become a shooter or victim and offering help, such as job opportunities or substance abuse treatment. . Community and faith leaders, police and prosecutors also host the group’s intervention.
Scott said that previous attempts to implement this approach had failed because they lacked “executive-level buy-in”.
Scott said, “You need someone who believes this and makes sure that every city agency, not just the police, is also supportive that it’s their job.”
Baltimore’s Commissioner of Police Michael Harrison, who saw targeted preventive efforts in New Orleans succeed, will continue in his role under Scott’s administration. So does the city’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Letitia will be Dzirsa.
Baltimore has 26,190 coronavirus cases and 553 deaths as of Sunday.
Tax revenue in Charm City declined due to the public health crisis, which closed the fiscal year ended June 30 with a deficit of $ 14.3 million. The city has implemented a hiring freeze, knocking some employees unconscious and laying off others.
With those challenges, Scott acknowledged that the road ahead would not be pleasant.
“We think we may still be able to deliver on all those promises, but also understand that this is an emergency,” he said.
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