Greetings from Annapolis! I trust this message finds you and yours enjoying the first few weeks of the New Year. The 435th session of the Maryland General Assembly began on January 14th, 2015 and I was sworn in to serve a second term in the House of Delegates as your representative for the 43rd Legislative District. Once again thank you for your support.
Just a few hours ago, the Honorable Larry J. Hogan Jr. was inaugurated as Maryland’s 62nd Governor. I share Governor Hogan’s acknowledgment that Baltimore City must continue to be central to the economic success of the State. For example, businesses like Under Armour and Amazon are opening in Baltimore, thousands of new jobs have been generated, and Baltimore has been repeatedly touted as a great place for its growing population of educated young people. Projects like the Red Line and State Center will create more jobs in the region and provide our state employees with a healthier work environment. Even with all of the challenges that Baltimore, like many other urban metropolitan areas faces, the City continues to make progress in economic development, improving public schools and public safety. We must continue to do more together.
Looking Back to Look Forward
While building towards the future is key, I would like to take a moment to congratulate my colleagues in the House and Senate on another four years in the Maryland General Assembly, as well as the 58 new delegates and 11 new senators. I look forward to working with the Hogan administration in a shared vision for our state. In that spirit, I would like to take a look back on the past year and what we accomplished together.
In 2014 we in the 43rd District and the State of Maryland:
- ended the death penalty in the State of Maryland.
- opened Waverly Elementary/Middle School, the first brand new public school in Baltimore in 50 years;
- became the second state in the nation to raise the minimum wage for working people;
- cheered the Orioles as they won the American League East championship and triumphed in the first round of American League playoff games;
- made progress on ending homelessness for unaccompanied youths;
- witnessed what happens when deferred maintenance, unheeded warnings from residents, and Mother Nature converged with the collapse of the 26th Street CSX retaining wall;
- reminded by the tragic events of Ferguson, Mo and in New York City that all lives matter and demanded law enforcement and community accountability;
- became integral to the fight against Ebola;
- mourned the passing of too many, too soon, including 3-year old McKenzie Elliott, as well as others to gun violence and Thomas Palermo, tragically taken from his family in a bicycle-vehicle accident, raising questions about safety in our neighborhoods and on our streets.
There were many opportunities to meet with community groups and to collaborate on projects with local and state partners in the 43rd Legislative District and Baltimore City. There are over fifty community organizations in the 43rd district, and I try to personally appear at each community organization meeting or event at least once a year. These are some of the meetings and events I attended and initiatives I supported on behalf of the 43rd District in 2014.
- Station North Arts and Entertainment District: The 43rd Legislative Team, Senator Joan Carter Conway, Delegates Curt Anderson and Maggie McIntosh and myself supported a bond bill in the 2014 Legislative Session to revitalize the businesses and neighborhoods in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. During the year, we took a tour to view the progress of the renovations. www.stationnorth.org.
- MTA Bus Network Improvement Program BNIP: MTA’s Bus Network Improvement Program (BNIP) was developed to improve the service quality and transit access of MTA’s bus service. The MTA has held numerous public comment hearings, including one hosted by the 43rd Legislative Team at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg YMCA at Stadium Place. http://mta.maryland.gov/bnip
- Baltimore City DOT Sisson Street Bridge Replacement Meeting: The Baltimore City Department of Transportation held a public meeting and invited community input regarding the Sisson Street Bridge Replacement Project. http://archive.baltimorecity.gov/government/agenciesdepartments/transportation.aspx
Housing Initiatives within the 43rd District
My office in collaboration with Baltimore City Councilwoman, Mary Pat Clarke and neighborhood partners such as York Road Partnership and Ednor Gardens/ Lakeside neighbors have worked tirelessly to make Baltimore Housing aware of properties in the 43rd District that have been neglected and are possible safety hazards to neighboring homes. I am committed to keeping our neighborhoods beautiful and safe in the 43rd district and so should you. Please report any properties in your community in need of code enforcement. For more information, please visit http://www.baltimorehousing.org/code_enforcement.
- Demolition of “Wild Bills,” 4225 York Road: The dilapidated building on 4225 York Road formerly known as “Wild Bills” demolished by the city with the help of neighborhood partners. Over the years, this building deteriorated significantly and was a safety hazard to pedestrians and motorists.
- Boarding of 1132 E. 36th Street: The owner was unable to properly maintain the upkeep throughout years and the home was severely damaged in a fire recently. With the assistance of many concerned neighbors and other city offices, the home was eventually boarded and stabilized.
Invited Appearances and Community Events
- Clean Air Partners 2014 Annual Celebration and Awards Ceremony: I was invited to provide the keynote address at the Clean Air Partners 2014 Annual Celebration and Awards Ceremony where I spoke to students, individuals and organizations about their remarkable dedication to perfecting the air quality in the Baltimore Washington Metropolitan area. http://www.cleanairpartners.net/news.cfm
- GreenScape 2014: Baltimore Green Schools Summit: I spoke to hundreds of Baltimore City elementary and high school environmentalists at GreenScape 2014: Baltimore Green Schools Summit. The event, which was hosted by the Baltimore Office of Sustainability, celebrated student environmental leadership in Baltimore city. http://www.baltimoresustainability.org/media/news-announcements/greenscape-2014-baltimores-green-schools-summit-may-28th-2014
- St. Elizabeth’s School Commencement Speaker: The St. Elizabeth’s School bestowed upon me the honor of giving the 2014 commencement speech. It was truly remarkable to meet the students who were inspired to live their best life in spite of their disabilities. http://www.stelizabeth-school.org/
- First-Day-of-Issue Ceremony for the Harvey Milk Forever Stamp: I received a special Invitation from the White House to attend the First-Day-of-Issue Ceremony for the Harvey Milk Forever stamp in Washington, D.C. It was a privilege to meet Harvey Milk’s relatives and many people from across the country who made that day possible. http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2014/pr14_026.htm
- Baltimore Data Days: Using Indicators for Community Change: I attended the one-day conference, Baltimore Data Day: Using Indicators for Community Change, hosted by the University of Baltimore to help city leaders expand their abilities to use technology and data for the improvement of local communities. http://bniajfi.org/data_day/
- Parks and People Foundation Picnic in the Park: I had the pleasure of attending Parks and People Foundation’s 4th Annual Picnic in the Park. This year’s event paid tribute to the founding of Herring Run Park, and Governor Martin O’Malley was a special honoree. www.parksandpeople.org
- Maryland Public Television Appearance: I appeared on Maryland Public Television to discuss the 2014 November elections, in addition to the important issues for the upcoming 2015 session in January. www.mpt.org
- Marc Steiner Radio Show Appearance: I appeared on the Anthony McCarthy show to discuss the upcoming 2015 Legislative Session and the shift of leadership within the statehouse. www.weaa.org
- Tour of North Calvert Green: The residents of North Calvert Green, a newly renovated apartment and row home complex located in the Barclay community, invited me for a tour of their community. The units are absolutely amazing and will provide affordable housing for moderate-income families. http://northcalvertgreen.com/
- Welfare Advocates Conference Flip the Script: I had the pleasure of being a panelist for Welfare Advocates Conference: Flip the Script. Welfare Advocates is a statewide coalition of community-based organizations working to encourage an adequate safety net and public policies to support families. The conference addressed ending poverty and changing the public narrative regarding social services benefits for families. http://www.catholiccharities-md.org/welfare-advocates/
- Equality Maryland’s Signature Brunch: I attended Equality Maryland’s Annual Signature Brunch. Equality Maryland lobbies across the state to create equal protection under the law for LGBT Marylanders and their families. This year the organization honored the legacy of Governor Martin O’Malley. The event was a huge success, and I am happy to have been invited. www.equalitymaryland.org
Community Events and Meetings
- Visits to Senior Centers in the 43rd District: The 43rd Legislative Team, Senator Joan Carter Conway, Delegates Curt Anderson and Maggie McIntosh and myself had the pleasure of visiting and spending time at several senior centers located in the District– Stadium Place, Govans Manor, The Brentwood and Wyman House. We worked with Baltimore City’s Commission on Aging and Retirement Education (CARE) to bring State and City services directly to the seniors. Residents obtained information about available services such as the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) program and received assistance applying for services on site.
- Wyman Park Dell Ribbon Cutting Ceremony: On October 26th, the community was invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the new improvements to the Wyman Park Dell’s new playground plateau. I encourage everyone to support our community parks which provides safe havens for children and families to participate in outdoor physical activities. www.wymanparkdell.org
- National Night Out 2014: National Night Out 2014 was a huge success this year. Many neighborhoods and communities across Baltimore City, especially in the 43rd District, hosted family oriented festivities and partnered with local law enforcement to take a stand against crime. http://natw.org
- Rosh Hashanah under the Stars: I really enjoyed meeting so many great people at Rosh Hashanah under the Stars at Oregon Ridge Park to celebrate the Jewish New Year. I believe it is important to embrace all religious faiths because universally, we share many of the same desires and Earthly missions. http://bhcong.org/index.php?submenu=RoshHashanahUndertheStars&src=gendocs&ref=RH_Under_Stars
- Abell Community Street Fair: In late September I attended Abell’s Annual Community Street Fair. Hosted by Abell Street residents and volunteers from the neighborhood, the fair featured great food and entertainment for the entire family. http://www.abellimprovement.org
- Hillen Road Improvement Association Meeting: Earlier in the year, I attended Hillen Road Improvement Association Meeting. It was great connecting with residents. http://hria31.wix.com/hillen
- Perring Loch Community Association Meeting: I had the pleasure of attending Perring Loch Community Association’s October meeting at which I had the opportunity to meet the association’s new officers and learn what’s new in Perring Loch. https://www.facebook.com/PerringLochCommunity
Baltimore City Schools Initiatives and Commitments
- Baltimore City’s Public School System New CEO, Dr. Gregory Thornton: Dr. Gregory Thornton was appointed the new CEO of Baltimore City Schools in 2014. I look forward to working with him and ensuring that the $1 billion in funding to revitalize and renovate Baltimore City public school buildings that my colleagues and I helped pass in 2013 is put to good use. http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/Page/22590
- Baltimore Education Coalition (BEC): The Baltimore Education Coalition (BEC) is a partnership of schools and organizations that advocates for education reform policies in Baltimore City public schools. I met with the BEC recently to plan for the upcoming 2015 Legislative session, and I continue to be intensely involved in education funding for Baltimore City public schools. www.becforkids.org
- The New Waverly Elementary/Middle School: The Waverly Elementary/Middle School is first newly constructed school in Baltimore City in decades. It is brand new and equipped for students to learn in the 21st century with cutting edge technology in each classroom. http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/51
- Baltimore City Delegation Education Sub Committee: The Baltimore City House Delegation of the Maryland General Assembly hosted an Education Sub Committee at the University of Baltimore on the current status of Baltimore City Public Schools. As one of the panelists, I participated in discussions about school closings, the election of school board members and Phase II of Baltimore City school construction. Many community members were in attendance as well as Dr. Greg Thornton, Baltimore City School CEO and Marietta English, Baltimore Teachers Union President.
I’d like to know more about what matters to you.
As we begin this new session, I’d like to know what issues would you like for me to tackle. If you could set the legislative priorities for the General Assembly, what would they be? What Baltimore or Maryland issues do you think have not received enough attention from your legislators or governor? I want to hear your thoughts. Please respond to this email to let me know your priorities and concerns. Think of this as an opportunity to help shape the legislative agenda. I will read all of your responses, share them with colleagues, and take action where action is feasible. In my next newsletter, I will provide you updates and details about my legislative priorities for the 2015 Session and offer you an opportunity to give your thoughts.
Please let me know about any events or meetings your community is hosting. In return, I will help spread the word about your event. Contact my office with detailed information about meetings and events in your neighborhood, and we will place it on my website’s community calendar and Facebook fan page.
As always, thank you for your support, and Happy New Year!
Del. Mary Washington