One-On-One With Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Part II

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A major “race” was underway concerning Pimlico Race Course. However, this wasn’t a race at Pimlico Racetrack. This was a race to keep one of America’s most prized races— The Preakness Stakes from being moved from Pimlico to Laurel Park. The “stakes” were high. Pimlico stood to lose a historic race, which brings millions of dollars in revenue to the city along with international exposure.

The Stronach Group (TSG) officials were hopeful lawmakers would back a proposal to invest millions in upgrades at Laurel Park, a thoroughbred track located in Laurel, MD and make it the new home of The Preakness. Led by former Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh, city leaders then filed a lawsuit to keep the Preakness at Pimlico. Keeping the prized race in Baltimore seemed to be a “longshot.” But Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young was willing to “bet” that if the city and TSG could come together, the city would “win” the race to keep The Preakness.

He was right. In October, a deal was struck between the sides to keep the second leg of the Triple Crown in Baltimore. Mayor Young is proud of the “victory,” which came just months after taking over the city’s top political office.

“That was a cool deal,” said Mayor Young. “I set in motion for everyone to come back together at the table and work together as a team. The lawsuit was the impediment to us sitting down and talking. We had to end the lawsuit to move forward. The deal will be one that everyone will be happy with.”

For Mayor Young, keeping The Preakness in Baltimore came with a sense of urgency. But he admits that other issues facing the city— including lowering the violent crime rate and cleaning up dilapidated neighborhoods, come with the same immediacy.

“My overall vision is to reduce crime and clean up the city,” said Mayor Young. “There are areas that are filthy, people want potholes filled, and there are a host of other things on the books that people want done. It’s a sense of urgency. If people see things being done, they don’t complain. I want to do all I can to move this city forward.

“I am also looking at helping the workers who pick up trash, repair our streets, and collect the water bills. They take a lot of abuse. I tell them ‘it’s not directed at you, but the system.’ I once thought I could change the world. But I stopped promising all of that stuff. I promised good government and access to the citizens of this city, and that’s what I intend to give them.”

Mayor Young shared some of his strategies.

“Redeveloping the community, rebuilding communities, and robust job training facilities are key to reducing crime in Baltimore,” said Mayor Young. “I believe that with everything in me. If I had a magic wand, I would fix this system in no time. We all have to work together as a team to move the city forward. But even in the midst of the violence in our city, I believe Baltimore is in the midst of a Renaissance.

“We have new development taking place all across the city including Johnson Square, and many schools are being re-developed through the 21st Century School Buildings Program.

“We are seeing development we have not seen in decades. There is so much going on in the city. Baltimore City is on the move. Those individuals who are fleeing the city will be sorry they left. If you own property in Baltimore City, you should keep and maintain it. It will be a place where people want to live.

“I hope people stop fleeing the city.

Issues are everyone. If everyone rolls out, who will our babies look up to? We need fathers to be fathers, and mothers to say we need to work together for the kids. Kids need to have access to both of their parents, and parents need to attend Parent Teacher Organization meetings and see how their kids are doing.”

The Baltimore native further delved into the need to broker more relationships between job training programs and employers.

“We have to redirect how we give money to job training facilities responsible for connecting people with jobs,” he said. “I am trying to foster relationships between facilities that offer job training and the companies that offer jobs. This relationship will allow facilities to offer a curriculum that prepares and gives people the skill set they will need to prepare them for jobs within these companies.

“The job training facilities would then say, ‘give us the people and we will train them.’ The companies would hire them because then folks will have the skill-set. I am convinced that would help reduce crime overnight. People wouldn’t be out on the streets because after work they would go home after leaving their jobs, eat, rest and prepare for the next workday.”

Mayor Young also discussed the biggest difference between his last position— President of the Baltimore City Council and his newest position.

“I get to see what the budget really is,” said Mayor Young. “I also get to talk to department heads to see what the needs are. I also have the burden of the entire city. If anything goes wrong, it’s the mayor’s fault. That’s the biggest difference.

“I also have to spend not based on my wants, but what the people want. However, at the same time, I can’t be overzealous. I try to get a win-win in all that I do.”