[Baltimore Sun] 2024 voter guide: Jermaine Jones, candidate for Baltimore City Council District 12

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Jermaine Jones

Candidate in May 14 primary
Democratic
Oliver

Age: 40 on day of General Election (Nov. 5)

 

Occupation: Political Engagement Director & Chief of Staff of LiUNA (Laborers International Union of North America) Local 710

 

Education: B.A. in Political Science, Syracuse University

 

Previous political experience: I graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in political science. I’m currently a member of the 45th District Maryland State Central Committee. As the Political Director for various organizations, I lead in the passing of legislation throughout multiple Maryland jurisdictions.

Why are you running for office?

I’ve committed my entire adult life to advocating for our communities and working families. As a lifelong Baltimorean, I have seen our community’s challenges and opportunities. I’m running for city council because we can build a stronger, more prosperous Baltimore. A Baltimore that benefits everyone by working together. As Councilman for the 12th district, I will diligently work to create good jobs, improve our schools, and make our neighborhoods safer.

What are the most pressing issues in your district, and how would you address them?

The most pressing issue facing 12 district residents is crime. Additionally, not only do we need to continue to get crime in the city under control, but we also need to tackle the perception of crime to ensure residents feel safe. My plan to address this issue will be to dedicate resources to tackling the actual causes of crime. We must create more opportunities connected to good jobs with wages and benefits. We need to start connecting individuals with the mental health services they need rather than just locking them up. We must hold our public school system accountable for delivering the quality education our children deserve.

Baltimore’s homicide rate dropped in 2023 for the first time in nearly a decade. What do you believe is the council’s role in overseeing the police department and what would be your approach?

For me, the council’s role in overseeing the police department will be the same as for any other department: to hold them accountable for delivering the quality services Baltimore City residents deserve. I will approach this by holding public hearings regularly, staying in constant contact with leadership and command staff, and following up on every incident in which the system fails our citizens.

What do you believe is the council’s role in facilitating responsible development in the city?

The council’s role in facilitating responsible development in the city is to hold developers accountable for respecting our laws, citizens, and neighborhoods. When a development project is underway, the council must ensure that city residents are trained, hired, and paid an honest wage for a hard day’s work. Without this level of investment, many development projects can do more harm than good to our communities.

Is the current structure of the City Council, and the balance of power between the mayor and council members, appropriate, and why or why not? If you would seek to change it, what would your model look like?

No, the balance of power between the mayor and council members is inappropriate. Under our current structure, the mayor has too much power and thus rarely negotiates with the council. In a healthy government system, there needs to be checks and balances for everyone. If I were to change it, I would give the council more power and influence on the board of estimates.

What are the most important issues the council has dealt with in the last four years? Name several smart decisions and several not-so-smart choices members have made.

The council’s most important issues in the last four years have been public safety, crime reduction, education reform, and economic development. Some smart decisions the council has made have been increasing police accountability and investing more money into the city’s crumbling infrastructure. Some not-so-smart choices council members have made have been passing the package of bills for harbor place without the developers’ commitment to local hiring, wages, or benefits. Another not-so-smart choice was voting down bill 22-0220, calling for a study group to report on how effective the city’s TIFF program has been and whether TIFFs can be used for community development.

What weaknesses do you see in the delivery of city services? What can be done to improve response time and resident satisfaction?

The city’s weakness in delivering city services is that it needs more resources to do the job effectively. The budget doesn’t allow for the hiring of adequate personnel, and city employees often need more tools to do their jobs. We need to dedicate more tax dollars to city services to improve response time and resident satisfaction. We can start collecting this additional revenue from developments, hospitals, and institutions that have yet to pay their fair share due to bad TIFF deals.

Editor’s note: Baltimore Sun Media received this candidate’s responses on April 11.

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Baltimore Sun Media’s voter guide allows candidates to provide their background, policy and platforms on issues, in their own words. Any questions or feedback can be emailed to [email protected], or read more about the questionnaire process.

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