La Vern A.W. Murray, Unaffiliated Candidate for Mayor


 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?

LAM: While working for the State of Maryland over the last two and a half years I have often used the Baltimore Metro Subway to get around Downtown Baltimore. As it is an efficient way to quickly move throughout the downtown neighborhoods.

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

LAM: I believe that ulterior modes of transportation such as walking and biking most certainly foster a healthy lifestyle not only from a carbon footprint perspective but also a social one. When driving you automatically secluded to yourself and not open to many if any social interactions along your journey to your final destination. Walking or biking you most likely more aware or open of opportunities that could arise along your way. For example, while walking you may come across a shop you've never noticed and there is the possibility you might go in and shop. Now you've patronized a local business that would have never got that sale if you were in your car and solely headed to your final destination. So these kinds of choices can create a more sustainable city.

Are you supportive of the city’s plan to implement bike share in 2016? If so, what do you believe to be the critical components of success?

LAM: Yes as a city bike share could help alleviate our local traffic congestion and even foster a healthier city. However, as we being to move forward with these plans and select vendors for these services we must keep in mind that the full scope of the plan must be thoroughly thought out. These programs only reach their full potential when the infrastructure is in place and the culture is ready to receive it. So all things need to be considered such as, proper bike lanes/zones, secured systems, proper promotion and awareness of the program. The finally the key to the program will only be a good as those who use it. So education and information is a key component to successful bike share.

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?

LAM: Our plan of action will include a thorough audit of all our city agencies and all its workers in order to root our any unnecessary operations. For too long those who have no true desire to effect positive change in Baltimore's City Agencies have been in power; abusing and misusing their authority to keep the status quo. This audit will include the removal of persons not performing at the optimal levels. There are no checks and balances currently in place to control this misuse of authority and many of the city’s departments have allowed a spirit of laziness and a lack of ethics to exist in the workplace. I plan to be a part of the task force personally as we do a thorough audit of our city agencies. This administration would prioritize stronger direct oversight and implement better checks and balances over our local departments. Our Citizens are the priority and no longer is the city going to foot the bill for employees to not perform to the best of their abilities to serve our city.

What impact do you see increasing rates of biking and walking in Baltimore having on the public health and safety of our residents? In what ways will your administration invest in the creation of safe places to encourage more people to engage in physical activity?

LAM: Overall it could and would eventually improve on our city’s health and promote a sustainable lifestyle. Renovating our current city parks, creating new pocket parks inside of our urban fabric, restoring proper street lighting and increasing law enforcement foot patrols to destroy the spirit of fear and foster a welcoming environment for communities to grow and co-exist.

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?

LAM: We will work very closely with Governor Hogan who has already proposed $135 million to fill in the gap for the cancelled “Red Line.” The plan is to expand many current bus routes and establish new ones while also enacting a new “CityLink” system. A color-coded network of 12 high frequency MTA bus routes will service downtown Baltimore. The newly proposed BaltimoreLink system will deliver a unified transit network and includes renaming existing MTA modes: LocalLink (Local Bus), Light RailLink, Metro SubwayLink and MobilityLink to create an interconnected transit system. Every successful metropolitan city in the world has a well-integrated system where it is easy and simple to use all forms public transportation. This plan is a step in the right direction.

Often road redesigns that improve the safety for people on bikes or people walking do so in a way that removes priority for single occupancy 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?

LAM: This is mainly an education problem. And it’s not one that the office of Mayor can handle on its own. It’s going to take partnerships with organizations like Bikemore, BikeMaryland, Baltimore Spokes and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Group to educate our citizenry on the long term benefits that low impact transportation can have on city circulation problems, social dynamics, environmental issues, and most importantly on public health. At the end of the day if we aren’t here to enjoy the city we are trying to improve what is it all for? So it will be a team effort to inform and convince the city that making Baltimore a “bike-friendly city” is making a choice to bring it into the 21st Century and make it a first class city once again.

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

LAM: Yes, we are one city; any problem that affects one part affects the whole. I want the Office of the Mayor to be a conduit of communication and collaboration for all citizens. I for that reason I’ve chose to run as neither Republican nor Democrat because my bid for office is not about party lines, political platforms or creating a stepping stone. Too many of my peers before me have used this city as a way to achieve other political aspirations outside of Baltimore. It’s time for true leadership not political socializing. It is my desire to effect real change in my community at large and help all of us live up to the name Charm City. I've heard the call; I'm stepping out to face the giant of social decay confident that with Team Leadership we can revive this city once again. So, to the city of Baltimore I say, "Be opened, be inhabited, and be rebuilt."

Murray For Baltimore PO Box 12174 Baltimore, MD 21281 Twitter: @Lawmurray4mayor FB:\lawmurrayformayor