“In this America, millions of people experience every day the opportunity of having life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in all of their dimensions. And in this America, millions of young people grow up in the sunlight of opportunity.”
– The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
An Inclusive Agenda
For far too long, Black Marylanders have been left out of the sunlight of opportunity that shines throughout our state. The Gansler Administration’s “Sunlight of Opportunity” will change that, with a plan to provide Black Marylanders access to good jobs, good schools, equal justice, affordable housing, and personal safety.
Criminal Justice Reform and Public Safety
Black Marylanders have been subject to the twin evils of our criminal justice system for far too long: the criminal justice system both over-polices and under-protects Black Marylanders. The Gansler administration will fix that by reducing criminalization, improving police departments, and putting a true focus on reducing violent crime.
The Gansler administration will:
- Legalize cannabis and expunge convictions. Cannabis should be legal in the United States, and we will legalize it here. But we know the burden of cannabis convictions historically fell on Black Marylanders and we must right that wrong by expunging convictions and using the revenue from legalized cannabis to support investment in Black communities.
- Drug courts in every jurisdiction presenting alternatives to incarceration. Drug use should be treated like a public health problem and not a problem of criminality, as we already know it is in white communities. The Gansler administration will create alternatives to incarceration for drug abuse throughout the state.
- Require a community college degree for all police officers. An Associate’s degree from one of Maryland’s exceptional community colleges would help ensure that our state and local law enforcement officers have the tools necessary to prevent crime, de-escalate volatile situations, and build trust within the communities they are sworn to protect.
- Bring every police shooting to the grand jury. Accountability for police violence is vital for Black Marylanders. But as a former prosecutor, I know that prosecutors and police work closely, making justice harder to come by. The Gansler Administration will mandate every police shooting be brought before a grand jury so that evidence of police shootings is always heard by a jury of our peers.
- Promote community prosecution to complement community policing in an effort to bridge the mistrust gap between communities and law enforcement that serves them.
- Conduct independent audits of every Maryland police department. Every Marylander deserves to live in a community with a fair and just police system. We know that is not the case right now. The Gansler Administration will conduct independent audits of every police department in Maryland, and will reform those exhibiting heightened rates of profiling, discrimination, and violence.
- Converting judicial elections to judicial retention elections. A diverse bench is vital for racial justice so that people from communities that have been hurt by an overly punitive criminal justice system act as judges. Judicial appointment with retention elections has been shown to promote diversity on the bench and Maryland must move to such a system to improve criminal justice outcomes.
- Fixing schools. For far too many of our public school children, the health and safety of their classrooms are determined by the zip codes in which they live. When students are forced to attend schools that are sweltering in the hot months, freezing in the cold months and afflicted with broken plumbing, missing windows, leaking roofs and even vermin, they are simply unable to deliver the same academic results as their more affluent peers. Even more damaging to their futures is the implicit message that they simply don’t matter. A Gansler Administration will work closely with local school systems, the Interagency Committee on Public School Construction and the Maryland State Department of Education to ensure that our public school construction resources are spread equitably across the state, without regard to income or political influence.
- Universal pre-kindergarten and universal child care. Good education and child care starts before kindergarten. Well-off parents already are able to obtain care for their children and pre-school that gives their kids a head start. We need every kid in Maryland to have that same start, regardless of race or income.
- Concentrate resources on Maryland’s four HBCU institutions. HBCUs are a pillar of our higher education system, and provide many Black Marylanders with a college environment that lets them thrive. The Gansler Administration’s commitment to the success of Maryland’s HBCUs will BEGIN with the following commitments:
- Provide our HBCUs with the amount of state appropriations necessary to double the amount of need-based financial aid available at each institution;
- Instruct the University System of Maryland, the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the Department of Budget and Management to undertake a comprehensive facilities review, which will result in an updated capital and financial plan to ensure equity with the other USM institutions;
- Ensure that each HBCU institution is funded in the 10th percentile, at a minimum, of their respective national peer institutions.
- Increase vocational programming in high schools and post-secondary institutions. The cost of higher education is skyrocketing as jobs in the construction and care industries are in increasing demand. We must complement investment in these vocational programs with broader investments in Maryland’s trade schools and community colleges, which are increasingly essential to successful careers in the skilled trades. We must ensure that students have the training they need to obtain good, middle-class jobs when they leave high school.
- Require financial literacy training in every high school in Maryland. The system is stacked against communities of color and working people. As we work to reform the status quo, our high schools must do more than simply teach kids how to make a budget and apply for the best credit card. They should be teaching them how to build businesses and build wealth.
Employment and the Economy
- Raise the minimum wage. Black Marylanders are more likely to work in jobs that pay the minimum wage. That means raising the minimum wage is a racial justice issue. With costs rising throughout the country, we must make sure we’re keeping up.
- Hire minority-owned businesses as sub-contractors and prime contractors alike. The state government must make sure that MBEs are getting state contracts at equal rates.
- Ease access to capital for Black-owned businesses. Building wealth is hard if you are shut out of capital markets. The Gansler Administration will ensure that access to loans to start a business is equal throughout the state.
- Ensure Black-owned cannabis and sports betting companies have a fair shot to succeed. Minority-owned companies have been boxed out of sports betting and denied medicinal cannabis licenses. The Gansler Administration will ensure these companies are fairly represented in these industries, especially when the recreational use of mariuana is legalized.
- Prioritize returning citizens’ employment opportunities. The burden of prison should not extend to obtaining a job after incarceration. It is not only good for those returning from incarceration but for all of us, as employment reduces recidivism. We must invest in obtaining employment for every single person coming out of prison.
- Meaningfully diversify state government at every level. The state government should reflect the diversity of Maryland, which is a majority nonwhite state. The Gansler administration, from the top level down, will reflect that diversity. Our administration is committed to conducting a generational transformation of the State of Maryland’s personnel system, which will have three primary building blocks:
- Recruitment, promotion and retention
- Meaningful inclusivity training
- Quantitative and qualitative assessments to ensure diversity and inclusion goals are met
- Laser-focus on helping Baltimore realize its unlimited promise. The Charm City should be an economic powerhouse for the region. We must invest in creating a Baltimore that powers the state.
Housing and Transit
- Affordable housing near transit throughout Maryland. Maryland is in one of the most economically prosperous regions in the country, with Washington, D.C. the center for many high-paying jobs. But too many Marylanders cannot live near transit with quick and easy access into D.C. We need to build affordable housing near transit hubs so that Black Marylanders can reach good jobs.
- Address mass transit deficiencies for the 30 percent of Baltimoreans without access to a vehicle. People cannot work if they cannot get to their jobs and over 30% of Baltimoreans do not own a vehicle. At a time when we must be shifting towards environmental modes of transportation, we must make Baltimore a city with access to transit for all. The Gansler administration will invest in busses and bus lanes in Baltimore, in connecting Baltimore to regional transit, and improving bicycle infrastructure so that all Baltimoreans can be connected with good jobs.
- Building housing wealth. For generations, Black Marylanders were denied the ability to build generational wealth through housing like their white counterparts. The Gansler administration will work to alleviate that driver of the racial wealth gap, by improving access to capital and ensuring discriminatory realtors and banks are held to account, just as I did when I took on predatory actors in the housing market as Attorney General.
- Provide local governments with the planning tools and economic incentives to address housing affordability without sprawl. The Gansler administration will empower local governments to invest in multi-family housing, amended height restrictions on multi-family units, redevelopment of vacant and abandoned properties and repurposing of vacant commercial and office space.
- Renewed commitment to fair housing enforcement. The Gansler administration will work closely with the Maryland Commission for Civil Rights to assess the enforcement of fair housing laws.
- Environmental justice. Black Marylanders are subject to higher levels of pollution and will suffer more from the effects of climate change without action. As Attorney General, I delivered environmental justice, obtaining settlements when ExxonMobil released more than 25,000 gallons of gasoline into Maryland waters and secured $4.6 billion for air quality with American Electric Power, the largest environmental settlement in American history. The Gansler administration will bring that same fight to the governor’s office, and will fight to ensure clean air and clean water for every single Marylander.
- Lead abatement. Lead poisoning hurts childhood brain development and can lead to worse outcomes from education to jobs to crime. While we’ve made great progress in reducing lead poisoning we have more work to do. Baltimore City still has the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning, and the Gansler administration will be focused on reducing the rate of lead poisoning to zero everywhere in the state.
- Address the significant “heat gap” that exists in urban communities. The Gansler Administration will make an unprecedented investment in tree planting, permeable sidewalk construction, public parks, open spaces and community gardens.
How Do We Know Doug Can Deliver? Because He Already Has.
Doug has been fighting for equality for Black Marylanders his entire career. When Doug was Attorney General, he started the first Civil Rights Department in Maryland history.
During his tenure as President of the National Association of Attorneys General during the mortgage foreclosure crisis, he brought almost $2,000,000,000 to Maryland to keep hundreds of thousands of people in their homes and avoid foreclosure and eviction. He took on Baltimore landowners for evicting homeowners for back rent debt.
Doug also established an electronic weapons task force to establish protocols for police use of force, in an effort to reduce police violence.
He knows that racism affects society everywhere and has used every office he held to take it on, which is why he co-chaired the Montgomery County NAACP Criminal Justice Committee starting in 1989, authored the Roadmap for Diversity in Higher Education for students, faculty and staff, received the MLK Dreamkeeper Award for diversifying government offices during 16 years in elected office, and established a Voters Rights Task Force to substantially reduce Maryland voter suppression.
He will bring that same energy to the Governor’s office and can’t wait to get started.