Curtis Johnson, Candidate for City Council - 11th 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?

CJ: My wife and I have one car between us. With her working in Washington, D.C., and my job with the Maryland Department of Transportation, we frequently use MARC, light rail, the circulator, as well as Washington, D.C.’s transit system to get to our places of employment. 

My vision for Baltimore is that we create a comprehensive transportation system that is safe, affordable and reliable. Working for the Obama Administration and at Maryland Department of Transportation as the Bicycle and Pedestrian Policy Analyst has afforded me the opportunity to learn about transportation successes around the country that can benefit the 11th district and Baltimore. 

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

CJ: From a personal and professional standpoint I understand the importance of having a transportation network that allows people the opportunity to exercise in a safe environment. Last weekend while knocking doors in Locust Point, I saw how many people in Latrobe Park in Locust Point were on their bikes, playing basketball and enjoying the nice weather.

The same can’t be said for all parts of the 11th district. On the northern end, there are very few green spaces or places for kids to safely ride their bikes. I’d like to change that by developing public-private partnerships to not only create, but maintain green spaces thus creating a safer, healthier, more liveable 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?

CJ: As someone that has participated in Bikemore meetings and serve as staff to the Maryland Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (MBPAC) I've seen and solved these issues across the state and in the city. As city councilperson one of my first pieces of legislation would be to mandate all city transportation projects adhere to North American City Transportation Officials (NACTO) “Urban Street Design” standards which are designed specifically for cities as opposed to the antiquated American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) standards which favors cars.

In my conversations with neighbors throughout the 11th district, transportation is a high priority issue. In South and Central parts of the district, it’s parking and congestion. In the northern part of the district its the reliability of public transit options and safety. We owe it to the residents of the 11th district to provide a system that leads to economic mobility. 

My entire public service career has been dedicated to connecting people to transportation and ladders of opportunity. Through that work I’ve engaged with communities across the nation, the state, as well as here in Baltimore on effective delivery of transportation projects and I’ll bring that experience and talent to our city council.

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?

CJ: In my day job, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Liz Cornish of Bikemore on these very issues by assisting the city in moving their downtown cycletracks from planning and design to go to bid, on time, this spring. I will continue to do the same as the 11th district city council person. I understand wholeheartedly the value of safe lanes for our cyclists and the importance of an integrated roadway system in a 21st century city. I know the ins and outs of transportation on the federal, state, and local level and I bring that experience and those connections to Baltimore.

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?

CJ: The 11th district is the transit anchor to the entire city. With more light rail, MARC, metro stations than any other district, we owe it to the district and the city to provide safe, affordable and reliable service.

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?

CJ: Connecting people to jobs is paramount to the success of Baltimore as well as its families. A major piece of my campaign platform is calling for the revitalization of both Howard St. and Pennsylvania Avenue. A better Howard and Pennsylvania means a better 11th district and a better Baltimore.

I am a firm believe that local jobs leads to less crime which leads to a better economic future. If we create a system that works for those that have no option, the system becomes inherently better for those that do. I will work everyday to make that a reality as the council person for the 11th district.

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

CJ: I want to work with our future mayor on building a safe, reliable, affordable and most important, comprehensive transportation system that connects residents to job centers as well as leads to livable, walkable, bikeable communities. Before we can engage in a transportation master plan, we must have a public safety master plan to ensure those who are using alternative forms of transportation feel safe. I see Baltimore through my son’s eyes as I know his his future is Baltimore’s future. I want my family to be able to walk, bike and take public transportation to the many wonders Baltimore has to offer. I cannot ensure that alone. I need my neighbors and friends in the 11th district to support this vision and vote for me on Tuesday, April 26th. Only together can we reclaim our future!