Rodney C. Burris, Candidate for City Council- 4th District

In an effort to educate voters, we will be posting responses to our candidate questionnaire. Questionnaires were emailed to each candidate running for City Council, President of City Council, and Mayor. Candidates have until March 4th to submit. We are publishing results in the order they are received. 

How frequently do you use a mode of transportation other than your car to navigate the city? Based on your experience, where should the city prioritize resources for transportation? 

RCB: I walk a lot around my town. I enjoy it, and have spent many days and nights visiting the shops up and down the York Road corridor, as well as walking throughout the residential streets connected to the corridor.

I believe public transportation, particularly light rails, should be a priority of the city, influencing the state to help bring in such options

What role do you believe biking and walking improvements can play in creating a safer, healthier, more livable Baltimore? 

RCB: I’m all for a walkable Baltimore being a safer, friendlier, more livable Baltimore. I believe small businesses and local shops all up and down or major corridors (North Ave, York Road, etc.) would greatly benefit from our walkable Baltimore.

Often road redesigns that improve the safety for people on bikes or people walking do so in a way that removes priority for single occupant vehicles. This can look like removing lanes for travel or decreasing available street parking. Can you describe how you would manage public expectations during project implementation, and handle any backlash from constituents that don’t share in the City’s vision for complete streets?

RCB: Bikes and bikers are a vital part of a healthy and thriving urban environment. Residents benefit when they know they have the option to bike; bikers feel secure when they have the benefit of designated routes.

Because of this, I am very much in favor of implementing successful initiatives like the “Bikeways” programs found in cities like Chicago and locales like Washington County, OR.

These programs have two major themes:

  1. mapped routes that criss-cross the city
  2. predominate usage of residential roads
    (think: ‘bus lines’, but safer, comfortable speeds, designed especially for bikes)

Many of these Bikeways routes have nodes along them where bikers can stop at shops, rest points, watering holes, bike repair facilities, etc. These nodal points display the bikeways design, offer route maps, and provide common points for bikers to relax and relate.

I believe in a program of this type as a way of life for the residents of Baltimore.

To help us accomplish this, I would be honored to work with organizations like the Balto Bike Club, Balt Triathlon Club, the Metro Wheelers, Bmore Bike Party, and of course, Bikemore!

Recent audits have discovered that the Department of Transportation struggles to measure key performance indicators. The city’s procurement and project management processes have also faced scrutiny. This has led to significant delays of key improvements to bicycle infrastructure in Baltimore. How will you work to improve performance and accountability of city agencies like the Department of Transportation under your leadership? 

RCB: If I understand correctly, it would seem that the major points in this question are that city agencies, particularly Department of Transportation, have struggled in the past with three things:

  1. procurement (buying the right goods and services in a timely manner)
  2. project management (effectively or efficiently managing available resources
  3. KPIs (clearly defining & measuring agency objectives.  

 This is probably a truism across all governments around the nation, inclusive of Baltimore (i.e., we’re not alone). However, the impact of such shortcomings are widespread. As a city resident, it is my desire to particularly help in this area. As councilman, it is a charge I believe I can help us accomplish.  

Because the powers of the councilperson are very specific in the City’s Charter Code, and do not cover direct authority of city agencies (such authority belongs to the mayor’s office), my efficacy here hinges on my ability to emphasize three things: ownership, accountability and transparency.

  1. Ownership: This is buy-in. Everyone must feel an increasing part of both our collective problem and our collective progress. We all must have a vested interest. We must promote campaigns (e.g., “Our Baltimore”, “Baltimore Rewired”, IgniteBaltimore, etc.) that emphasizes the positive connected potential that we all share.
  2. Accountability comes thereafter, and calls for having well defined measures in place to measure our productivity.  Clearly defining what department/agency/division is responsible for what aspect of the puzzle, then clearly defining what their specific/individual success looks like (coupled with prizes/penalties for success-levels), and then openly discussing/sharing performance scorecards, will greatly help increase accountability.
  3. Finally, transparency. This is the notion of open government, and it involves 3 things:
    1. regularly informing stakeholders of the problems,
    2. regularly informing them of the progress, and
    3. regularly requesting feedback for collaborative solutions as we move forward.

 Influencing this process is work a council member in Baltimore can begin immediately. It is work I intend to be a part of for our families.

The percentage of people choosing to take public transit or ride a bike for transportation is increasing in Baltimore, while the percentage of residents without access to a vehicle is over 30%. How would you rate the city’s current investment in sustainable transportation solutions for its residents, and as a council person what would you do to support increased investment? 

 RCB: Audits. It is quite possible that the money we need for increased investment is sitting right under our noses, and just needs to be properly allocated. With accurate financial information, our city can prudently decide our future in regards to spending opportunities. 

A recent study by Harvard economists found that the single strongest factor affecting the odds of a child escaping poverty is not the test scores of his or her local schools or the crime in the community; it is the percent of workers in his or her neighborhood who have long commutes. How do you plan to improve transportation options and commute times for our most vulnerable residents? 

RCB: I’m working with a major corporation to help bring a significant number of jobs to the City. It is still in the works, and details are forthcoming. Please request to follow my blog ( to stay up to date on this initiative. 

What other information about your candidacy would you like to share with our members?

RCB: What separates me from the pack?

I've a 3-point plan that's actually actionable--We can get my pan Done.

Secondly since 2004, my behavior has been 1) to share what I find out with you all 2) to offer a practical and pragmatic solution with short term and long term benefit, and then 3) to actually Execute on the plan.

Through this approach, I've brought improved quality-of-life to Bmore families for several years now; without the backing of big establishment dollars and without the mandate of an elected title compelling me to do so. 

The heart of our families is in me.  It's proven and it shows.

May I make a request?

May I request that you vote for me, and also that you tell as many people as possible about RCB's campaign for City Council?

I appreciate all you do!

Thank you for voting for me, Rodney C. Burris, as your next councilman!