Q&A with Brooke Lierman, Candidate for District 46 Delegate

| June 16, 2014 | 1 Comments

lierman-headshotBrooke Lierman, a resident of Fell’s Point, is a Democrat candidate for District 46 (map here) Delegate (3 seats available)The primary election will be held on June 24th and the general election will be held on November 4th.

Tell us a little about yourself and why the areas of the 46th District are important to you?

I live with my husband and young son in Fell’s Point, and my husband and I both work downtown. We enjoy the array of restaurants and night-life, the camaraderie of our neighbors, and the many arts and cultural institutions that Baltimore has to offer. We love living in a downtown neighborhood, and we look forward to raising our son in the City.  These experiences fuel my passion for District 46, which is home to some of the most vibrant, unique, and diverse neighborhoods in the State.

The City, and District 46 in particular, are at an important inflection point, and the choices we make now will have lasting impacts as Baltimore continues to grow.  The dynamism of our downtown neighborhoods is one of the City’s great strengths, bringing new jobs and opportunities, but we must ensure that continued growth is smart and well-planned, preserving what is best about our neighborhoods and benefitting residents and local businesses.  Our neighborhoods need a team of legislators that can fight effectively to ensure District 46 receives the resources needed for inclusive, sustainable growth.  I am excited to work with communities and businesses to ensure that the State is doing all it can to support our neighborhoods and City.   To learn more about me, visit www.brookelierman.com.

Why are you motivated to run for office and potentially serve this district?

After working at the grassroots level in my neighborhood, representing community groups around the City pro bono, and starting to raise a family in the City, I am eager to be an advocate for our families, communities, and local businesses at the State level.

I will focus on ensuring the State is doing what it can to support our City’s growth — both through additional funding for schools and parks, and also through reforming agencies that are not supporting our neighborhoods adequately, like the Maryland Transit Authority (MTA).   Many agencies that have a direct impact on the daily life of City residents are controlled at the State level, including the City Liquor Board and MTA.  Our communities need strong representation to make sure that these agencies are serving the City and its neighborhoods.

We also need representatives who understand the challenges that families face in the City.  Safe, quality public schools are the foundation for attracting and keeping families in the City.  I am proud to be a Board member of the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance, and I will be a voice for all Baltimore families.  I will fight to ensure that all parents in District 46 have access to strong neighborhood elementary, middle, and high schools.

What are some ways the state can help the City of Baltimore continue to grow and move in the right direction?

Invest in our Schools:  Great schools form the foundation of strong communities.  As a delegate, I’ll fight to ensure that Baltimore City schools receive the resources they need to provide the great education our kids deserve.  The current school funding formula is up for reauthorization in the next session, and I will be a strong voice in the General Assembly to secure adequate resources for Baltimore schools.  Finally, I’ll fight to make universal Pre-K a reality for all our kids.

Ease the Property Tax Burden:  This past session I was proud to offer testimony in support of the Residential Retention Act, a bill that allows individuals preserve a portion of their Homestead Tax Credit if they move from one house to another within the City.  This is a small but important way to encourage families looking for a new home to stay in the City.  I will continue looking for more innovative ways to lessen the property tax burden on our residents.

Safe, Clean, Green Neighborhoods:  No matter what neighborhood they live in, Baltimore residents seek safe, clean, green neighborhoods where they can live, work, and play.  I will advocate for better public safety infrastructure, more green space and playgrounds, and quality affordable housing.

Invest in Public Transit: We deserve first-class public transit that reduces congestion and gets people where they need to go.  Moreover, a strong transportation system creates jobs and builds strong neighborhoods by attracting and retaining businesses and enabling residents to move freely throughout the City.  We must invest in better public transit, including a much-improved bus system, a more expansive water taxi service, and a better bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

Develop Vacant Properties: We should be doing more to crack down on slumlords and promote more rapid, responsible development of vacant properties. There have been several recent City proposals to change the property tax structure for vacant and blighted properties, some of which would need to be approved by the Maryland General Assembly.  As delegate, I will collaborate with City leaders and State agencies to find innovative policy solutions to turn problematic properties into renovated homes that will become assets in our community and contribute to the City’s tax base.

Many polls have rated Baltimore as an extremely unfriendly business state. What can be done to improve the business climate for all Maryland businesses?

A robust private sector is critical to Baltimore’s long-term success. It creates high quality jobs in the City, expands the tax base, and helps us leverage our existing assets, such as our outstanding research institutions. In District 46, our neighborhoods are home to a an exciting variety of small businesses – from urban pirate ships to tech companies to medical companies and law firms.

As delegate, I will support our existing businesses and work to attract new businesses to the City.  I will regularly meet with small business owners to understand their issues and fight to ensure that the State regulations that protect our workers, communities and environment are as easy to navigate as possible.

I would also like to explore the creation of an Innovation District, as recommended by a recent Abell Foundation report.  An Innovation District would encourage and facilitate greater connections between innovative companies and entrepreneurs, and strengthen the developing “innovation ecosystem” in Baltimore.  I will also support programs that bridge the gap between Baltimore’s world leading research institutions, our excellent graduate and undergraduate students, and private sector growth in the City.

I also understand that in order for people to achieve upward mobility, they need a ladder to climb. For the good of our workers and the businesses that employ them, I will work to strengthen that ladder in Baltimore.  I will fight for stronger public transportation to empower more City residents to get to more available jobs, additional funding for job training that qualifies more City residents for those jobs, and for paid sick leave.

Efforts have been in place to lower property taxes in Baltimore City, but much work is needed to make the city competitive with the surrounding counties, as well as the neighboring cities of Washington, DC and Philadelphia. How can the city and state work together to solve this problem?

The single most important thing that we can do to lower property taxes is to increase population and job growth throughout the City, which broadens the tax base and will allow for lower rates.  By addressing quality-of-life issues in our neighborhoods, and attracting businesses and jobs, we can create a “virtuous cycle” of population growth and lower tax rates.

In the short term, we need to seek out creative ways to lower our tax burden.  For instance, this past session I was proud to offer testimony in support of the Residential Retention Act, a bill that allows individuals to retain a portion of the accumulated value of their Homestead Tax Credit if they move from one house to another within the City.  We must also ensure that slumlords and owners of vacant properties are paying their fair share.

How should the city and state proceed with the proposed Red Line? What future transportation or infrastructure projects are important to this area?

If we plan to bring 10,000 families to Baltimore, we need to make sure they don’t bring 20,000 cars with them — and the only way to do that is to dramatically improve our public transit options in Baltimore.  I support the Red Line as one part of a comprehensive, integrated transportation plan.  Strong public transportation is a key to making Baltimore a city where everyone can thrive.  We should be proud of our dense, walkable neighborhoods – but we must acknowledge that our public transit is not what we need it to be.  We have many public transportation options in Baltimore – buses, the Circulator, the light rail, the water taxi, and the subway — but they are not meeting the needs of our residents. As a result, many people continue to depend on cars to get from home to work and from neighborhood to neighborhood.

I will prioritize building a better bus system for Baltimore City.  The 700 buses that MTA sends through our City neighborhoods every day are often late, do not use GPS-NextBus services, and do not have sensible routes.  I will lead efforts to reform MTA to make it more transparent, accountable, and responsive so that Baltimore can have a bus system that works for all residents, and that all residents can rely on.

How can Baltimore City schools and recreations facilities continue to improve?

Baltimore City is the only municipality in the State that has no State parks – instead, the State offers some special carve-outs in the state funding for our recreation needs.  But Baltimore does not get its fair share of funding under Program Open Space when compared to surrounding counties.  I will make the case at the State level for increased investment in our parks and recreation facilities in Baltimore City.  Because so many residents live in rowhouses, most without yards, our families and residents depend on safe, clean and green shared spaces in all our neighborhoods.
Other cities have recently begun large projects to overhaul their playground spaces, and I will support efforts at the City and State level to follow suit.  We must identify and rebuild playground and rec spaces around our City so that every family has access to facilities that are fun and safe for their children.

Why should people vote for you?

As a civil rights attorney, as a community activist, and as a parent, I have the background, perspective, and skills to be a strong and effective advocate for the families, residents and business owners in our District.  I will be a devoted public servant, always open to hearing from constituents, and working as an ally to troubleshoot and problem-solve, and to advocate for our City’s needs, as we all work together to build a better Baltimore.

To learn more about me and my campaign, please visit www.brookelierman.com.

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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