1. Please describe your educational and professional background and how it has prepared you to serve on the City Council.
Anthony Hamilton is a college graduate with Bachelors in English & Language Arts and a Masters in Educational Administration & Supervision. This professional training has prepared me to be an effective leader and one with a business sense to effectively address the matters of City of Baltimore. Currently employed as an Educational Administrator for our local city government Anthony has led the way in improving the educational outcomes for our jurisdictions my "at-risk juvenile populations. Mr. Hamilton has also served in the position of Teacher, and School Administrator over the course of his career. This experience coupled with his education has prepared him to be an established community organizer and one that truly understands the pulse of our community.
I would like to serve as the next councilman from the 2nd district because I am overwhelmingly excited about the opportunity to establish policy & legislation that will restore our neighborhoods and empower the lives of all residents of Baltimore City. It is my endeavor to stand as a fierce advocate for the constituents of District two and the needs our citizens of Baltimore as a whole. It will be my challenge to unite the council to bring about systemic reform, and restructuring of city agencies and services through budgetary accountability and philosophical change. My top priorities as councilman will be to address our public safety epidemic; our cities's failing schools and bring development to our communities.
3. Do you support Baltimore's current crime-fighting strategy? What changes, if any, would you advocate for to improve public safety in the city?
I do not agree nor do I support the current crime fighting strategy and policies surrounding the fight against crime in our city. I believe our city's leadership has adopted the ideology that we can "police" the problem away, when in fact the city must reinvest in preventative programs and initiatives that combat crime and symptoms of crime prior to their materialization. It is too my belief if we take another look our city's budget and redirect some of the funds proposed to hire 300 new police we could fully fund Youth Works programs for our children and re-engineer this summer opportunity to become a year-round program. We too would also be able to open our city's recreation centers and staff with quality, equipped professionals that are able to address the growing mental health, social, and recreational needs of the Baltimore's Youth. As 2nd District Councilman I will urge the Baltimore City Police Department to develop a real plan to address the rapid increase in crime in the Northeast Precinct. Crime is up nearly 20 percent and we continue to lead the city in homicides even after the appointment of new commanders/ leadership in the Northeast District.
4. Do you support the recent reforms in the Baltimore City school system? Do you believe any changes are needed in the schools' governance structure (such as direct mayoral control or an elected school board)?
As a parent of three school aged Baltimore City School Children, I firmly believe that there is definitely room for improvement. Baltimore City Public Schools recent reforms have brought about some success in the areas of the reduction of the suspension/ expulsion rate, improved school attendance monitoring, and attracting those children who once dropped out of high school to return back to formalized education. Some of the reforms that I am not impressed with are city wide schooling where children from the far eastside are many times expected to travel to the other side of the city to receive educational services that should be readily available in their local communities. I feel that due to the Federal Legislation of the No Child Left Behind Act our system works to "teach our children to the test"; thus leaving very little time for cultural instruction that impacts the budding philosophies, views, and decision making abilities of our young people. You will find that many high schools are missing instruction in the arts, and other co-curricular subjects which have been proven to boost student outcomes and engage youth in their learning communities. I feel the City- State Partnership by which Baltimore City School is governed is broken. This partnership allows for each level of government to past the buck when comes to accountability. I feel that Baltimore City Schools should be governed by the Local government just as the other 23 jurisdictions within the state of Maryland. This will increase the level of transparency and accountability. With regard to the Board of School Commissioners the appointment process should be one that is done by the vote of the constituents for which it serves.
5. How would you address the city's backlog in school maintenance and renovations, estimated to be as much as $2 billion?
Baltimore City has not built a school within the city limits in over 30 years. Many schools resemble that of jails and prisons due to the failing health of many of our city school buildings. With the influx of our Charter programs I would suggest to charge those operators with the duty of providing and paying for the needed maintenance in buildings where they are charter operators. I too believe that this is an area where city leadership should tap into the philanthropic community to seek donations to improve upon the city schools infrastructure. It is time to switch the course of Baltimore City's redevelopment. We consistently find developers to develop our downtown, when our "Up-town" remains in ruins. Those developers that are building within our city limits and awarded contracts with huge tax incentives should be required to contribute a small percentage of the 1%-2% of the tax savings to improve the school facilities and construct new schools.
6. Property taxes have become a major issue in this year's election. Do you believe the city's tax rate needs to be cut? If so, by how much, and what steps would you take to keep the city's budget in balance while lowering the rate?
As City Councilman, I will work with the administration to bring strategic and timely property tax relief to Baltimore's citizens and businesses. Baltimore City has the highest tax rate in the state of Maryland, nearly twice the amount of the other jurisdictions. I believe the tax rate should be reduced by half over a period of 5-7 years.
7. The city has faced large budget shortfalls in recent years. If that trend continues, what top priorities would you protect from cuts? In what areas would you pursue spending reductions?
As city councilman I would work to protect those specific services that address the needs of our youth and seniors, such as recreation centers, youth works, & CARE and vital services addressing health, and public safety. I would pursue spending reductions in almost every area of government by utilizing the City's Outcome based budgeting process, and requesting the city agencies and departments seek supplemental funding through grants and donors the supplement initiatives within there agency.
8. Baltimore has lost tens of thousands of jobs in the last decade. What would you do to encourage economic development and provide employment opportunities for city residents?
As councilman I will advocate with the Board of Estimates to only award city contracts to those companies that are willing to hire Baltimore City Residents to complete city sponsored projects. I too will propose tax relief for those small businesses that hire city residents. I would sponsor legislation that would give residence preference to those applicants applying for employment with city government.