This year is a big year of voting and elections. Not only do we have the presidential election, soon it will be time make decisions on a more local level here in Baltimore. If you have taken a walk around the city, you might have seen various advertisements and endorsements for candidates running for mayor. Take a look around and you might see a not so familiar face, the up and coming, new to politics, Calvin Young has decided to run for mayor. Mayoral Candidate, Calvin Young, talks about truly making Baltimore charm city and revitalizing the city.
The Post had the chance talk to the 28 year old candidate who relates to the “Baltimore” struggle. He knows the city because he grew up here. He had stern, yet humble, beginnings in Northeast Baltimore in a single-parent home. His mother worked for the city jail for 23 years as a correctional officer, telling him, “I work in the jail so you don’t go to jail.” As a child, Young’s mother was often approached by peo- ple whom she saw in jail. She would tell him why they went to jail and encourage him not to end up that way. Young’s family, like some Baltimoreans, include those who have struggled with various addictions. He describes his family as, “regular as they come! My grandfather worked at Bethlehem steel. My brother goes to law school here. My sister is the volleyball coach at Mervo. My uncle was a pastor – store front pastor. We’re as regular as it comes. Growing up for me was a typical Baltimore life. We stayed over east and my father lived on the west side. We would visit Park Heights. The height of the summer time, Park Heights is what I used to experience. I lived in Northeast where it wasn’t as tough and that had to do with my mother’s decision. She worked a lot of overtime. She worked a lot of doubles. There were many times where she was working a double and we didn’t have no lights because paying the mortgage or the rent was so high but she did it. She didn’t want us to grow up in Cherry Hill, where she grew up. She felt like she could give us a better life that way. The reality is where you grow up dictates how successful you will be. I didn’t have friends that had guns. I didn’t have friends who were drug dealers. Knowing and understanding what everyone faces here but at the same time having a mother that made certain decisions, personally I was effected to make those decisions myself. That’s what life was like.”
He attended Baltimore Polytechnic institute, later going to New York University, then Harvard University. From being an engineer to Harvard business school, Young feels ready to tackle being the mayor of what some might call a broken city. The conversation ranged from his favorite film to the modern civil rights movement and most importantly, his vision for the future of Baltimore. Young is an approachable guy who loves his city. He carries a traditional Baltimore accent and often accompanies his brother at University of Baltimore’s law school. Young is trying to offer
a new perspective to a different and more traditional set of voters. Young didn’t exactly have interest in politics, however the Baltimore uprising in April of last year gave him an epiphany:
“I was never really interested in politics. For me, I’m an engineer— aerospace, things that fly. I’m a nerd. Studying engineering is what I enjoy. I had to go to business school for a lot of reasons, one was to define my purpose in life. But also to give myself a broader skillset to do some pretty amazing things, but stay in corporate
America and make a lot of money. I graduated from Harvard; I had a number of job offers that I turned down. But what happened in April really hit me.
“I didn’t expect to do it immediately…after business school, but April showed me the time is now, no time to wait. The right moment to do something is now, but it wasn’t for me to come home and run for mayor but for me to do something.
“Coming home and reconnecting with the community, I noticed everybody is at the table everybody wants to see the city become a better place. But the problem that we have is that we lack leadership and we lack a unified leader that we can all believe in. I see myself as somebody that can do that. For the African-American women and men who hate to see our children on the streets dying every day, someone they can look at and say this is who I want my son to be like. This is the example I want them to follow, so I’m willing to support this person. For the white family who wants to see Black Baltimore have a champion.
“That’s what I noticed, everybody agreed these can work, it just takes that one person. I can see myself being the person that can unify it in a nutshell and being a young enough person. People who are dying on the streets are 15, 20, 24, not fifty. I’m 28! They’ll listen to me. They’ll do that because I’ve walked their path. I’ve grown up with them in the same way that a lot of people would say those traditional politicians have been around for a long time, they have their base with the older voters because they grew up with them.”
Young sees his opportunity as mayor as a way to make Baltimore the place he feels it should be. He describes it as a place where everyone knows someone, and a big city with a small town feel. However, the city cannot be that without solving social and economic issue and without unity. Some of his goals include: unifying the city, proper education, and local economics through supporting small businesses. He would like to eliminate the “20th century problems”, such as crime, heroin addiction and the illegal drug trade. First, we asked what is meant by unifying the city:
“I’ll set the scene for you. First let me say, March 27, 2015 was the day Freddie Gray was laid to rest. A year later is April 2016. April 2016 is the election. The primary. National news is going to be back for the one year anniversary and what will they talk about when they talk about Baltimore?
“Are they talking about rehiring a mayor who betrayed our trust? Hiring others who have been in politics for a long time and have lied to us in different ways? One candidate previously ran and lied about his education, another one is apparently in corporate developer’s pockets, and other things. Another person who is riding name recognition from the very unrest that we feel so bad about we have all these people with all these unfavorable.
“Are we talking about them or about Baltimore just turned a page on the past and hired its next mayor- a young energetic, smart guy who can get the job done. That can be the future of the city and lead to 21st century Baltimore. A 21st century Baltimore needs a 21st century mayor and that’s what I see myself being able to be for our city when elected. It’s not about me. It’s about changing the paradigm, changing the conversation and taking command of the conversation.