"I know exactly what's happening [but] most people don't know what's happening in our national politics and by extension our state and local," says Cindy Walsh, a Democrat running for mayor.
Walsh, a "national academic" in the health field explains why she is right for the job. "I'm the only social-democrat in this race," she says. "The other candidates are recruited from big development. . . and [are a part of a] master plan." She is referring to the collection of companies, she says, who hope to establish themselves, profit from, and exploit the citizens of Baltimore.
She says that globalization has allowed for a scheme put into play during the Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr. presidencies to create international cities. Politicians can be bought and influenced by private enterprises which are looking to invest in Baltimore, she says, adding, "It's not a conspiracy. It's well known."
"There are two choices for this city," she explains. One, the city can become a city with "a city center that is full of the wealthy." She urges the opposite. "I would redevelop all of our communities as they are, just rebuilding them, creating very mixed income communities."
Walsh thinks that Baltimore neighborhoods, schools, and the city itself were allowed to deteriorate because greedy national and local neoliberals, who she says are Republicans in disguise, "were envisioning something that would happen decades later."
Despite having very little financial backing, Walsh is confident that she can win.
"The fact that I'm not in the media and part of these bigger venues means that I'm not part of Baltimore development," she says. "It actually works to my advantage." The citizens of Baltimore trust her, she insists. "I have a wide support system in the city. I don't see myself as marginal."
Hers is a confidence based largely on interactions she has with the public through her political organization, Citizens Oversight Maryland. "I have a public policy blog that thousands of people come to," she says. "I have probably more people viewing my website than you [City Paper] do readers or the Baltimore Sun has readers."
She's no admirer of mainstream media, either. "That's one of the things I would fix as Mayor," she says. "I would rebuild small media outlets, radio, print, T.V., online. . . for each community, for every voice. We will end this consolidation [that enables current media] to control these elections. That is why I started my organization. Absolutely no one was getting information for mainstream media."
In fact, Walsh is suing all four major television stations in Baltimore, WOLB radio, The Gazette, and the Baltimore Sun Media Group for "election irregularities" during her bid for Maryland governor in 2014. She is seeking $500,000 from each because, she says, she and her message were not conveyed at all during her bid for governor of Maryland in 2014.
"The media works as hard as it can to keep out any...social democrat like myself," she says. "Any candidate that's shouting they're going to end fraud and corruption, when Baltimore is steeped in fraud and corruption, don't get any campaign time."
Walsh has a message for people of color in Baltimore: she gets it. “Everybody that lives in Baltimore knows it still lives in a society of plantations,” she says. “It still has that same race and class structure that existed in the 17-, 1800’s. It never left.”
She is particularly proud of her involvement with protests after the death of Freddie Gray
“[I participated in] every bit of it. . . It was powerful and it had the whole establishment listening,” she recalls. “I’m not a phony. I’ve been in the trenches….I’ve been in the City Hall shouting and everybody has seen me doing it. I’m not a white person that people of color in the city think is a poser. Even the Latino citizens of the city know me, they love me and they know I’m supporting their rights.”
Where will she begin her changes upon being elected? Oversight and accountability.
“My entire decades of work involve administrative operational system, creating, running them, and implementing them,” she says, referring to her background managing numerous clinical trials at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. “I’ve had decades of experience doing exactly what needs to be done.”
Walsh says she will use her industrial engineering expertise to reorganize the city’s operation. Her first step is cutting City Hall’s ties to quasi-governmental corporations that report on Baltimore’s functional health.
“That is what creates the lack of oversight and accountability, the lack of transparency and the failure of the public to have a voice. Those are the three concerns of every citizen in Baltimore,” she says.
Walsh believes much needs to be changed in this city, but she also believes Baltimore presents a remarkable opportunity to experience the best in our society. “I’m the type of person that walks through communities, even the communities that people would think they would be afraid of. [I also look] for those green space. I’m very passionate about architecture and history and all of these educational institutions we have. I’m constantly going to Peabody and MICA. . . I’m a lifelong learner."
*An abbreviated version of this piece ran in this week's issue of City Paper.