Q & A with District 11 City Council Candidate Greg Sileo

| April 25, 2016 | 0 Comments
District 11 Map

District 11 Map

Five Democrat candidates are running for the District 11 City Council seat which holds its primary on April 26th. District 11 encompasses the South Baltimore Peninsula along with Downtown, Ridgely’s Delight, Mount Vernon, Midtown-Belvedere, Seton Hill, Heritage Crossing, Upton, Madison Park, Bolton Hill, and Druid Heights.  The candidates include: incumbent Eric Costello of Federal Hill, Curtis Johnson of Madison Park South, Harry Preston V of Upton, Greg Sileo of Locust Point, and Dea Thomas of Otterbein.

SouthBMore.com conducted a Q & A with the candidates. Meet Greg Sileo:

15-(c) Greg Portraits-brandon shane warren-52

What do you love about South Baltimore?

South Baltimore is my home.  I moved here ten years ago after I graduated from Loyola.  During that time I have lived in Federal Hill, the South Baltimore Neighborhood, Riverside, and I’m now the President of Locust Point.  I love that the neighborhoods on the peninsula have a small town feel while still being in close proximity to the downtown and all of Baltimore’s great amenities.  South Baltimore has some of the greatest restaurants, bars, and small businesses that the City has to offer.  We also have several extremely active community associations that take great pride in maintaining and improving the quality of life for residents.

What made you want to run for City Council?

I think that Baltimore is a great City but I know that we have even greater potential.

I see the number of families leaving the City for the surrounding counties in search of better schools and lower taxes and I know that we can do better.  I hear about small businesses closing their doors, large companies moving out of the downtown, and developers finding it easier to invest in other areas and I know we can do better. I hear about tourists who are afraid to come to Baltimore because of our reputation for crime and I know we can do better.  I’ve spent my entire career as an advocate and I’m confident that I can make a difference.  I’m passionate about this City and this District and I’m ready to be your next Councilman.

What are some key issues you plan to focus on if elected?

As I have walked this district I have learned that every community is unique and has its own set of priorities and issues. I believe that there are two universal issues that impact communities across the City: public safety and public education. Both are incredibly important to the stability and growth of our neighborhoods. They are also the two biggest factors in determining whether families choose to stay and invest in the City or move to the surrounding counties.

Our residents deserve streets that are walkable. Our tourists should come to Baltimore without hesitation or fear of crime in our tourist districts. No matter what the neighborhood, families should feel confident in sending their children to their local Baltimore City public school. These issues will not be addressed overnight but the strength of our neighborhoods and the growth of our City is dependent on our progress.

What are your thoughts on Baltimore’s property tax rate? Do you have any proposals for how to lower it?

It is imperative that Baltimore reduces its property tax rate in order to be more competitive with the surrounding counties. Family can move to the County and pay substantially less taxes, get more space, higher quality schools, and more responsive services. Lowering taxes will stimulate the housing market and result in greater home ownership.

As an IT consultant working with government, I believe that there are substantial opportunities to use technology to streamline City processes, create efficiencies, and reduce costs. I also agree with proposals to create a separate trash collection fee that will put us on a more even playing field with the surrounding counties.

South Baltimore and District 11 have a lot of small businesses. How do you plan on making sure it remains an area where businesses open, stay, and grow?

Over the last year I have had countless conversations with small business owners throughout the 11th District.  I heard time and time again that they feel as though the deck is stacked against them.  City processes are cumbersome and the various minor privilege and other fees create disincentives to growth.  As Councilman, I will work with the Administration to further reduce these fees and to streamline processes.  I will also advocate for continued to invest in our Main Street programs and commercial corridors to ensure that we have the types of retail that supports residential growth.

Baltimore’s image plays a big role in the success of our businesses.  As Councilman, I will support the work of the Downtown Partnership and others in promoting Baltimore as an incredible place to live and work.  I believe there has never been a more pivotal time to show the world what Baltimore has to offer. In order to accomplish this I will advocate for increased funding for reputational marketing.

How can you help make sure District 11 and the rest of the city are as safe as possible?

A primary function of our City government is to keep ALL our residents safe. As Councilman, I will advocate for a community policing model within our Police Department and help to repair the relationship between officers and our residents. I will advocate for the reallocation of funding to create permanent foot patrols to ensure that officers know residents and the offenders in their community.

I will also partner with local Police Community Relations Councils to create community-specific strategies and will advocate for more community relations officers to ensure every community can communicate effectively with the Police Department to track and address concerns.  I support addition de-escalation and customer service training for officers and I will demand that we accelerate the implementation of a Department-wide body camera program.

This district attracts a lot of new residents and young families. How can you help make sure this is an area they want to stay in?

The primary reason that young families are leaving South Baltimore is that they do not have faith in the schools.  They believe that they can get more value for less money in the surrounding counties.

I believe that our schools are underfunded and that our facilities are under equipped to meet our children’s needs.  As a Council Member, I will tirelessly lobby Annapolis to ensure that the Hogan administration adequately funds City schools. Additionally, I will work to ensure that the promises of the Baltimore City Public Schools Construction and Revitalization Act of 2013 are realized. As someone who has worked in the human services field for the majority of my career, I will also leverage my relationships within the nonprofit community to increase their participation in the community schools model and increase the access that low income households have to their vital services.

Finally, as a community I believe we must take ownership of our local schools.  Schools such as Thomas Johnson, Federal Hill Prep, and FSK are examples of the impact that a community can have on its school. To ensure this continues, we must bring all stakeholders, including the local community surrounding the school, into the decision making process for that school. This includes providing input into principal hiring and school construction issues. In-turn, the surrounding community must actively participate in improving the success of its local school. I pledge to ensure that all stakeholders are included and consulted when key decisions are made for a school.

Why are you the right choice for District 11?

I’ve spent my career working on Anti-poverty issues on the City and State levels. I am also the President of the Locust Point Civic Association and have fought tirelessly on behalf of my own thriving neighborhood. I believe I bring a unique and balanced perspective to the challenges facing our City and I have the passion and energy needed to make a difference. I consider myself a professional advocate and I’m ready to represent the 11th District.

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, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.