Another Ex-Mayor Weighs In on Baltimore

Another Ex-Mayor Weighs In on Baltimore

I’m hoping that we can close the major problem which is the skills gap.

In this 1999 photo, former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke congratulates the newly elected Martin O’Malley. (AP Photo/Roberto Borea)

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Former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke recently talked to NPR about his concerns and hopes for the city he once led.

With continued unrest since the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in police custody, Schmoke (who is now the president of the University of Baltimore) said he hopes the events of the last few months can spark an end to the “tale of two cities.”

I’m hoping that we can close the major problem which is the skills gap. That is, we have a lot of jobs here. We have jobs going begging. But what the persistent problem is the gap between jobs that are available and the skills of people in our communities. If we can close that skills gap so that more and more people are getting employed, employed in jobs of today and tomorrow then we will see a community that has really come together and is going to avoid the types of problems that we see today. And obviously, along with that, my hope is that the violence goes down and that we can begin to treat our drug problem more as a public health problem rather than a criminal justice problem.

Schmoke served as the city’s first black mayor from 1987 to 1999, and was known for his opposition to the war on drugs. His successor on the other hand, Martin O’Malley, was known for his tough-on-crime, zero-tolerance policies.

O’Malley, who last weekend announced his run for U.S. president at an event in Baltimore that many described as awkward, told CNN’s Jake Tapper recently, “We’re all responsible. I was responsible when I decided to run for mayor in 1999 and I told people all across our city, ‘Vote for me and together we will not only improve the policing of our streets, we’ll improve the policing of our police, we’ll expand drug treatment and we’ll save a lot of young lives by intervening earlier.’”

Here’s Schmoke’s full NPR interview.

Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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Tags: jobsmayorsracebaltimore

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