My opponents for the open Delegate seat have repeatedly called for more enterprise zones to be established in our community and our state. They say that we need to designate more zones wisely, to help strengthen our neighborhood businesses.
I couldn't agree more. You see, three decades ago, I created the program they're talking about!
I was a young staffer on Capitol Hill, just out of law school, and I was working for Roberto Garcia, the Democratic congressman from the South Bronx. He had hired me with the specific challenge of coming up with a new economic development program that would benefit his struggling, mostly low income, community.
I had learned about a program begun a year or two earlier in the United Kingdom, one designed to cut taxes and regulatory requirements in economically distressed portions of London and Liverpool and Manchester. I told Congressman Garcia I didn't like that: why cut health, environmental, and safety regulations when the result would be only to help one segment of the community by harming another?
So I suggested, the better approach would be to link tax cuts with EXPANDED job training, housing, and other social services in the areas targeted for economic improvement. And I further suggested that this could be a political game changer on Capitol Hill as well: Democrats would like the focus on fighting urban poverty through targeted social services, and Republicans would like the emphasis on tax cuts as a vehicle for community economic renewal.
Congressman Garcia loved that approach. He told me to write up the program I had in mind, and to get others on board. So I traveled around Capitol Hill, and around the nation, sharing my ideas; enterprise zones soon became the hottest topic in urban redevelopment.
Congressman Garcia quickly found numerous Democratic and Republican co-sponsors - key among them an ambitious Republican Congressman from Buffalo, Jack Kemp, who sincerely wanted to do right by urban America. Soon, Roberto, Jack, and I were traveling around America together; and soon after that, the program I conceived was enacted by the federal government. And hundreds of counterpart state and local enterprise zones were created, including right here in Maryland, and most of the zones have been proven to work.
I went on to become Deputy HUD Assistant Secretary, the federal government's top economic development post; to be urban policy advisor to the New Jersey Governor; to lead national economic development programming for the National Mentoring Partnership; and to build two successful, job creating businesses. And I've created proven economic development programs ranging from enterprise zones to urban small business incubators to teen entrepreneurship training.
Throughout our community, from downtown Wheaton to Plaza del Mercado, small businesses are struggling. Throughout our community, from Glenmont to Aspen Hill, deserving people are frustrated by their inability to find work.
Imagine what an impact I could have as a Delegate in Annapolis, using this lifetime of public and private sector experience to stand up for our working families and struggling small businesses. To stop the blight in our community of boarded up businesses. To create new jobs for those who live here.
I imagined what that impact might be. And that's why I'm running.