Kristerfer Burnett, Candidate for City Council-8th 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?

KB: Due to the nature of my work as a Community Organizer in Baltimore City, which requires me to make frequent visits to residents throughout several neighborhoods, I do not use other modes of transportation very often. Though, when I travel regionally I do utilize the MARC train and light trail services, as well as, rideshare services. Regarding the prioritizing of transportation resources, I believe the biggest impact can be made by increasing connections between East and West Baltimore and regional connections to expand access to employment opportunities. Additionally, it is crucial that their be a focus on improving connections to the Central Light Rail, Metro Subway, MARC train, and increased investment in Complete Streets roadway upgrades to ensure we have a viable transit system. Also, I would support the implementation of a citywide bike share system to promote biking as a viable and healthy form of transportation for our citizens. Though, additional work needs to be done to ensure the safety for all the users of our roadways.

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

KB: My vision for transportation in Baltimore is to push for a system that reduces the time it takes for residents to get to work and school on-time and which increases access to regional opportunities. Therefore, I believe an impactful method to increase the quality of life is making investments in the biking and walkability of our city and our transit system. Biking, mass transit and pedestrian investments that ease connections between public transit systems and first mile/last mile transit programs are proven methods to reach this goal.

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?

KB: Regardless of the issue, I believe it is critical that we engage and educate Baltimore City residents during the policymaking process so that they understand what is trying to be accomplished and why changes are needed to improve our lives. To best inform and involve residents on changes to our roadways, I believe it must be apart of a larger effort to shift away from driving culture and to encourage the use of bicycles and public transit. I would work to develop partnerships with cycling focused organizations and public schools to implement family-oriented and community-based recreational programs to promote biking as a viable and safe mode of transportation. Additionally, I plan to partner with City, State, on-profit and for-profit partners to host ongoing information sessions for constituents on a range of topics to increase understanding and engagement in the policy process.

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?

KB: To improve the quality and responsiveness of city services, I would advocate for an increased reliance on data to guide the allocation of resources to address issues like this in our city. There is truly a need to utilize technology and programs like CitiStat to increase public engagement in service improvement and to promote transparency in how our resources are being allocated. Additionally, it is crucial to eliminate departmental silos and encourage collaboration between agencies and with the public to improve services. As Councilman, I would expect the Department of Transportation to manage projects competently and complete them on time.

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?

KB: In my West Baltimore neighborhood, 1 in 4 households do not own a single-occupant vehicle and more than 1 in every 5 commuters travel more than 45 minutes to get to work. Therefore, it is evident that more needs to be done to meet the needs of our working-families and students to ensure that they’re needs are met. I would prioritize efforts to reduce resident dependency on cars and advocate for more sustainable transportation methods such as: Investments in complete streets (bike lanes, improved sidewalks, dedicated bus lanes, roundabouts where needed, etc.) Prioritized traffic signals for public transit Traffic calming improvements Expanded bike and vehicle share initiatives.

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?

Thinking of public transit as a regional network is crucial to overcoming the challenges many vulnerable residents face in commuting to family-supporting jobs. Therefore, connecting Baltimore City residents to well-paying employment centers in nearby Baltimore & Howard counties and Washington DC is crucial. I would work to support initiatives that increase the connectivity within our local transit systems, as well as, between privately manage shuttle systems and redesigned transit routes to improve first mile/last mile connections.

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

KB: I'm running because I firmly believe our city needs a public servant will work with them. Someone with extensive experience in working to empower residents to become the change agents needed to move our city forward. As a native Baltimorean, I have made a lifelong commitment to community organizing, fighting for good jobs that pay livable wages, and engaging with and advocating for the improvement of our neighborhoods. As one of the co-founders of Neighbors Without Borders of Greater Southwest Baltimore and the Village Farmers' Market at Edmondson-Westside High School, I have a strong track record of working with my neighbors in the 8th District and connecting them to opportunities and resources.