BALTIMORE — I got a chance to interview Mary Miller on Tuesday at her spacious campaign office at 2801 Sisson Street, in Remington. She’s running for the office of mayor of Baltimore City, along with a flock of other Democratic hopefuls, including, of course, the incumbent – Larry Young. (Incidentally, he’s not doing very well in recent polls.)
Miller is 64-years-old, married with two adult sons, Tom and Seamus. She originally hails from Ithaca, New York, where she vividly recalled: “some really cold winters when she was growing up.” Miller was one of six children. This is her first bid for the electoral public office. She’s been living in the city for close to 35 years.
“I just couldn’t stand on the sidelines” and watch the city I love to go down the drain. Miller was referring, in part, to the sordid stories surrounding the disgraced ex-Mayor Catherine Pugh, her “Healthy Holly” scandal and resignation. (Pugh was recently sentenced to three years in a federal slammer for her criminal wrongdoing.)
When Miller looked, too, at the five-year trend of: “horrific violence” in the city, police corruption and police “understaffing,” four mayors “in nine years,” along with a continuing loss of city population, plus “thousands of vacant houses,” and schools without “heat,” she knew in her heart that it was time for her “to step into the race.”
Miller said crime-fighting needs more “coordination.” We are in an “emergency. People are dying.” We also need “better results from our schools,” she continued.
The need for “coordination” on the crime-fighting front got some reinforcement from a recent comment by Mayor Young. When asked what he is doing about the 300-plus murders a year, Young gave this lame answer: “I’m not committing the murders!”
Miller said the bottom line on just about every front is: “Baltimore City needs leadership.” I’m ready and qualified to give it, and to help pull the city out of “its tailspin.”
I want to get Baltimore “back on track,” Miller continued, and now is the time to do it. We have a “huge crime problem,” she said, “but we also have a huge opportunity” to do something about it, along with taking on the ongoing “poverty” Issue, improving transportation, and “fostering inclusive growth.”
With the primary set for April 28th. Miller knows she has her work cut out for her. Fortunately, she does have $500,000 in her campaign coffers to aid in that effort and a growing staff of young and eager volunteers. Miller promised Baltimoreans will see more of her as she looks forward to personally canvassing, in the next seven weeks, for votes in every precinct of the city.
At the moment, Miller has three campaign ads airing on television, addressing relevant issues such as; crime, economic growth, leadership and fighting poverty. You can “expect more ads,” she submitted, “as the campaign intensifies.”
On the important issue of poverty and its relationship to crime, a winner of a book I reviewed back to 2016, comes to my mind. Its title is: “The Boys of Dunbar: A Story of Love, Hope and Basketball” by Alejandro Danois. The author revealed how drugs, and the killings over drugs, infected the black neighborhoods of East Baltimore when steel-making plants such as Bethlehem Steel went belly-up.
As the breadwinners lost their jobs, Danois wrote, “teenage drug dealers became their family’s main wage earners.” That sad saga, some observers feel, continues today in many city neighborhoods.
Getting back to candidate Miller. I suspect the above is why she is placing so much emphasis on economics and inclusive growth and getting money into “historically underinvested areas of Baltimore,” along with funding and extending “job training programs.” She surely has had plenty of experience in those economic areas while working for both T. Rowe Price and at Obama’s Treasury Department. At one point, under President Obama, she “oversaw the entire U.S. economy.”
Shifting to the past. I asked Miller if she had any political heroes. She answered “yes.” She pointed to our late martyred President John F. Kennedy, and his famous quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Miller also gave a nod to President Barack Obama. Miller served in the U.S. Treasury Department for close to five years under the latter and called the experience of working for him – “inspirational.”
It is time, Miller emphasized, for her “to give back” to the community, and that is just another good reason why she tossed her hat into the mayoralty election ring. To learn more about her check out her campaign website.
At the moment, and this is a surprise, former Mayor, Sheila Dixon has a small lead in the competitive mayor race in some of the polls. You might recall that she had to step down as mayor, in 2010, as a result of a misdemeanor conviction involving “gift cards intended for the poor.”
Although built on the petite side, Miller believes she is more than big enough to get the job done. This made me think about how feisty Fiorello La Guardia of New York City, (1934-45), all 5 feet, 2 inches of him, became one of the greatest mayors in that city’s history.
Will history repeat itself in Baltimore? Well, we won’t know for sure until we get the results of the April 28th mayoralty primary election.
Bill Hughes is an attorney, author, actor and photographer. His latest book is “Byline Baltimore.” It can be found at: https://www.amazon.com/William-Hughes/e/B00N7MGPXO/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1