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Black Agenda

Our state has long denied access to equal opportunity, economic empowerment, and racial justice for Black Marylanders.

Dear Marylanders,

This election presents an opportunity for generational change, and I believe that my life’s work has uniquely prepared me to lead the state through this time. After law school, I joined the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department and prosecuted high-profile hate crimes and police brutality cases. I worked for Senator Ted Kennedy as an advisor for civil rights and led the office of civil rights at the Department of Health and Human Services. In 2002, I became the first Latino elected to the Montgomery County Council, and I fought against predatory lending practices that were targeting Black and Brown communities. I later became the Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation -- it was right as the foreclosure crisis was beginning to decimate communities -- particularly the Black community. I worked to pass a package of aggressive reforms to protect homeowners. In 2009, I was incredibly honored when President Obama asked me to lead the Civil Rights Division, where I began my career. In that role, I lead systemic police reform cases. I worked to protect the right to vote by bringing cases against discriminatory voter ID laws and working to enforce the Voting Rights Act. And my work to combat predatory lending here in Maryland came full circle, when we reached the second largest fair lending settlement ever in a case against Wells Fargo.

I’ve been in the trenches fighting for working people my entire career. I’m ready to put that experience to work as your partner in Annapolis and to use what I’ve learned to help lift up Black Marylanders.

On issue after issue facing the Black community, we’re punching below our weight.

Here’s a great example: Maryland’s 4 HBCUs have always been agents of equity and excellence in education. Their incredible success has been achieved despite decades of underfunding. The tremendous work of Speaker Jones and many others led to a $577 million dollar settlement for our HBCUs. But we can’t stop there -- that was just a down payment.

As Governor, I will work to combat and develop solutions to the climate crisis, which disproportionately harms Black Marylanders, and make sure that the solutions bring opportunity for the same communities that are most impacted.

As Governor, I will work to address the impacts of the failed war on drugs by reinvesting cannabis tax revenue back into communities that have been systematically and disproportionately criminalized for marijuana.

As Governor, I will partner with local and state leaders to make our streets and our communities safer.

As Governor, I will make Maryland a leader in providing economic opportunities for Black business owners by reforming our antiquated MBE program.

As your Governor, I will intentionally work towards increasing opportunities for Black business start-ups and small businesses through expanding the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority, Neighborhood Business Works, and EARN. We have great examples of programs such as Non-Profit, Interest-Free, Micro Bridge Loans (NIMBLE). The Department of Commerce that I would like to expand for for-profit Black businesses, which will help with access to capital when conducting projects for local, state or federal government. And I will require the Office of State Procurement to provide a summary of reasons for each MBE waiver granted each year to ensure transparency as we work to fix this broken, but important program.

As Governor, I will fight tirelessly to close the health care enrollment gap to ensure that 100% of Black Marylanders can access insurance.

Throughout my career, I’ve spent countless hours listening to the needs and concerns of Black residents of this state, from Mountain Maryland to Southern Maryland, the Eastern Shore. I will continue these conversations in the weeks and months to come -- and I will continue to work with all of you -- to craft a detailed agenda built on a foundation of equity and racial justice. We can’t wait any longer -- we’re at a critical crossroads, and we have to seize this opportunity to bring about real change with real leadership.

-- Tom

EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP

According to the latest Census data, a majority of Maryland residents are people of color, and it’s critical that we celebrate our state’s rich diversity and empower communities of color so they’re able to reach their full potential.

Under a Perez Administration, we will:

Recruit and Retain a Diverse Workforce
Build Meaningful Relationships to Spur Innovation

ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT

If you work hard, you should be able to punch your ticket to the middle class. This is far from reality for many Black Marylanders. Right now, white American families have roughly ten times the amount of wealth when compared to Black American families. A top priority for Maryland’s next Governor must be to provide economic opportunities to Black Marylanders so they’re able to provide for their families, start and grow businesses, and build generational wealth.

Under a Perez Administration, we will:

Support Workers and Families
Advance Procurement Reform to Address Income and Wealth Inequality
Ensure Job Readiness and Support Black-owned Businesses
Build Financial Freedom

EDUCATION

Education is the key to a successful, prosperous future, and tragically, far too many Black students across Maryland are missing out on pre-K and K-12 educational opportunities simply because of the zip code they live in. On top of that, we’re facing a critical teacher shortage, particularly Black teachers, and while Maryland is home to four historically Black colleges and universities, they are subject to severe underfunding year after year.

The Maryland General Assembly took heroic action by passing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Act, but we must ensure that as we implement the Blueprint, zip code doesn’t determine destiny for our students. We must also make sure that the most economically disadvantaged students and communities receive the support they need and deserve.

Under a Perez Administration, we will:

Ensure Equity in Maryland’s Education System
Support Higher Education
HBCUS
Debt Relief

CREATING SAFE COMMUNITIES AND REENVISIONING OUR CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

It is a false choice that we either reduce crime or ensure that people’s constitutional rights are protected. We can and must do both.

We have a broken criminal justice system in Maryland and across the country that has historically and continues to criminalize Black Marylanders. The Maryland General Assembly took historic action to pass Anton’s Law to protect Marylanders from unjust policing and are exploring the legalization of marijuana, but it’s critical that the next Governor of Maryland work with the General Assembly to address the injustices of the past and create a more equitable justice system that Black Marylanders can trust.

Under a Perez Administration, we will:

Protect Communities
Establish Better Pathways Between Prisons and Employers
Expand Job Opportunities for Justice-Impacted People and Returning Citizens
Ensure Cannabis Justice
Ensure 21st Century Policing and Dignity for Justice-Involved Individuals
Protect Children in the Juvenile Justice System

TRANSPORTATION

Transportation connects Black Marylanders not only to their friends and families, but to job and economic opportunities, educational opportunities, and more. For too long, transportation projects that would largely benefit Maryland’s Black communities have been ignored, underfunded, or canceled altogether.

Under a Perez Administration, we will:

Expand Large-Scale Transit Projects
Ensure Sustained Investment in 21st Century Transportation
Expand Green Transit
Pave a Path to the Middle Class

HEALTH CARE

Every Marylander deserves access to high-quality, affordable health care, yet this care is still out of reach for so many Black Marylanders due to a variety of reasons, including financial hurdles, deeply-rooted health disparities, distance to care, and more.

Under a Perez Administration, we will:

Create a Diverse, Culturally Competent Health Care Workforce
Expand Health Care Infrastructure
Expand Access to Health Insurance
Tackle the Opioid Crisis
Close the Black Maternal Health Gap
Close the Black Mental Health Gap
Combat Food Insecurity and Eliminate Food Deserts

HOUSING

Housing is the basis for a healthy life, and the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that countless Black families are just one emergency away from disaster. In order to create stronger, healthier communities, it’s critical that we create a system that will work to keep people in their homes.

Under a Perez Administration, we will:

Invest in Eviction Protections
Tackle the Appraisal Gap
Expand Black Homeownership
Preserve Marylanders’ Homes