As we move through the holiday season and approach the New Year, I write to share a brief reflection on the year and update you with a few notes on our recent work.
First–it would be an understatement to say this year has merely been a challenge; it’s been a great challenge, at the least, and far too many of our neighbors, friends, and family members are ending this year in a tougher place than they began, and at no fault of their own. The once daily tasks of school, work, paying bills, caring for our children and older family members, and just caring for ourselves in ordinary ways, suddenly and immediately became overwhelming and worrisome as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.
Our office seeks to balance our work in two parts: supporting the immediate needs of our community and addressing serious problems with strategic solutions. Since March, however, our office redirected much of its attention to meet the very immediate needs of our community. Among the many urgent matters that quickly arose were systematic delays in processing unemployment payments from the state Department of Labor. The delays were extraordinary and unreasonable so our office pivoted our energies to advocating for the growing list of folks awaiting the help they rightfully deserved.
Much of our activities over the last year flow from the work that I began in the spring: keeping our communities safe and healthy from COVID; protecting our access to the ballot; guarding our economic wellbeing; and, remaining focused on the decisions and policies that will determine our long-term quality of life in the city and state. I am proud that in addition to addressing the immediate needs of our district, we remained thoughtful and proactive on the strategic issues facing us. None of this work, however, would be accomplished without the very talented team that serves the 45th District’s residents in its Senate Office. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Tamika Winkler, Brandon Wharton & Stephen Michael Thompson for creating the dynamic team that keeps our office moving and diligently serving the residents of the 45th District. Their daily hard work and commitment is a great blessing to me and our district.
In spite of the challenges of this year, we have many reasons for hope and faith. I remain steadfast and hopeful that our best days are ahead and I am deeply encourage by the weekly visits I make to schools in our district such as my recent visit and speech at the Baltimore International Academy. I hope my work demonstrates this belief and that you find this update helpful and encouraging. From my family to you and your loved ones—Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! And, I wish you a Happy New Year!
Welcoming the Role as Chair of Baltimore City’s Senate Delegation
On November 20, 2020, I was elected Chair of our delegation by my colleagues, the Senators representing Baltimore City. I am honored to have the opportunity to lead our delegation over the next two years. In our districts — and across Baltimore — we are working together to find solutions to issues plaguing communities. My number one priority will be ensuring that Maryland provides adequate funding for education, infrastructure, public safety and health — especially in the era of COVID-19. In addition to supporting the new mayor, we will work to enhance and modernize the delegation’s operations so that we are innovatively able to connect with our constituents as we battle the pandemic.
My Commentary: “Want to reduce crime? Challenge the status quo”
I was proud to share some of our work in East Baltimore to reduce violence by using data and community input in making measureable change. As I discussed my recent op-ed to the Afro: Here’s one way those of us in East Baltimore have acted swiftly to reduce crime and protect the public: holding problem liquor stores accountable by using data and tighter regulation. I introduced Senate Bill 571 in the Maryland General Assembly’s 2020 legislative session to address problem liquor stores that habitually nurture an environment conducive to crime and violence. The legislation was initiated as the result of a call from a neighbor in the Berea Community concerning an area package goods store that had experienced two shootings in the first week of October 2019. The community subsequently organized a meeting at the Eastern District Police Station with Commissioner Harrison and Councilwoman Sneed to discuss the situation, better understand the problem, and seek a serious solution. During the meeting, a number of community leaders complained about the 29 shootings that had taken place in front of the establishment or within 500 feet of the location over the previous three years.
In thinking about how to address this problem, we pondered on how we got to a place where the oversaturations of liquor stores in such a small area are open for 20 hours of a 24-hour day. This is accepted as a normal way of life in Baltimore. I know of no other jurisdiction in the State of Maryland where this would be accepted. For these reasons, the community came together to research, introduce and implement the legislation, which is now law that reduces the hours of operation for these problem stores from twenty hours per day to thirteen hours per day. We will continue to monitor this problem, but the early results are promising and we hope the information can be used in other ways too.
“Scott Names Transition Team Leaders…”
Last month I joined Mayor Scott’s Transition Team as one of the nine leaders of its steering committee. The work of the committee is vital to imagining how our city government can work most efficiently and deliver high quality services. In addition to the Maryland Matters article linked above, you can also read about the team’s work from The Baltimore Sun.
In Memoriam: Our Senator, Paul Sarbanes
With the passing of Senator Paul Sarbanes, the State of Maryland mourns a statesman.
From his time in Maryland House of Delegates to his nearly four decades in the United States Congress, Senator Sarbanes, a son of immigrants, lived a life of public service that every elected official could model.
The year that I graduated from National Labor College, Senator Sarbanes gave the commencement address. His charge to the graduating class inspired me greatly.
In this new age of political partisanship in Washington, we will remember Senator Sarbanes’ ability to bring lawmakers together, most notably with his work on the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
I personally will miss Senator Sarbanes, the second longest Senator in Maryland history, as a friend and role model. I will miss his advice and his quiet, but steadfast leadership. I will be praying for his children Congressman John Sarbanes, Michael, and Janet. They have my deepest condolences.
P.S. … An Upcoming Event for our Campaign
Senator Cory McCray’s Pre-Session Reception
Please consider joining our campaign for its Pre-Session Reception as we celebrate Senator McCray’s success during his 2nd legislative session.
The celebration will be held via zoom with a panel discussion on:
“Celebrating Black Women Leading in Maryland”
with special guests
Senate Pro-Tem Melony Griffith
Vice Chairwoman Vanessa Atterbeary
Councilwoman Danielle McCray,
& Maryland Democratic Party Chair Yvette Lewis
The event will be held on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM.
Supporter – $21.45
Sponsor – $500.00
Host – $1,000.00
Make Checks Payable to: “Friends of Cory McCray” ,P.O. Box 18741, Baltimore, MD 21206
For more info email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Authority: Friends of Cory McCray, Charmaine Turner, Treasurer
Listening. Learning. Leading.
Cory V. McCray
Senator, 45th Legislative District