Here's where Shannon Wright, the GOP nominee for mayor of Baltimore, stands on tech and entrepreneurship - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Jul. 15, 2020 10:10 am

Here’s where Shannon Wright, the GOP nominee for mayor of Baltimore, stands on tech and entrepreneurship

Wright won the Republican primary in June, and is now running in the general election. Here are her responses to Technical.ly's campaign questionnaire.
Pastor Shannon Wright won the Republican mayoral primary in June.

Pastor Shannon Wright won the Republican mayoral primary in June.

(Courtesy photo)

Baltimore’s mayoral election isn’t over yet.

In June’s Baltimore mayoral primary, Pastor Shannon Wright won the Republican nomination to advance to November’s general election, topping the votes in a GOP field of seven.

Wright, a nonprofit executive and former first VP of the Yonkers NAACP, characterizes herself as a Frederick Douglass Republican, adding that she seeks “to encourage individual responsibility, uphold the value of human life, and diligently works to break of the cycle of poverty by encouraging choice in education and jobs training options.”

In the general election, she will face City Council President Brandon Scott, who won the Democratic nomination, as well as entrepreneur Bob Wallace, who is running as an independent. The city’s voter registration is heavily Democratic, but in a statement launching her general election campaign, Wright said, “We cannot allow my opponent to think his coronation is a done deal.”

“This campaign is about bringing real solutions to real issues,” she said. “This election is not about party, it is about all of the people of Baltimore.”

Today, we’re publishing responses from Wright to the Technical.ly campaign questionnaire on tech and entrepreneurship issues. We submitted this questionnaire for responses during the primary election, and are continuing to seek candidates’ views in the general election. Find Scott’s responses here.

Wright responded yes to all questions on the survey. They are outlined below, alongside additional comments from the candidate.

QUESTION #1: I support city government initiatives to expand access to technology across the City of Baltimore, including to the more than 74,000 households who currently lack an internet connection.

This includes:

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  • Exploring how to increase broadband access, including the completion and release of Baltimore city’s study on the feasibility of municipal broadband, as well as potential solutions leveraging the city’s conduit system and fiber ring.
  • Exploring infrastructure to help the city prepare for 5G connectivity, such as small cell technology.
  • Convening public, private and nonprofit leaders to explore best practices.
  • Taking steps to ensure the U.S. Census reaches all households, regardless of internet connectivity.

Comments: “As Mayor I will absolutely support initiatives from the city government to expand Wi-Fi, specifically to include the families within the city that do not currently have internet access. We have become a techno world. Without Wi-Fi access you cannot keep up even from a news and public safety perspective. In these unprecedented times so, many people are doing more from home. It is imperative for physical and mental wellbeing for people to be able to stay safe and connected.

QUESTION #2: I believe Baltimore’s economic growth requires modern workforce development strategies.

This includes:

  • The need for supplementary educational opportunities in STEAM, like robotics, advanced manufacturing, and entrepreneurship for Baltimore school children to be better prepared for careers of the future.
  • Prioritizing computing centers and digital literacy training in the City of Baltimore budget for modern workforce development, leveraging the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore City Community College and other existing stakeholders to help develop a more inclusive and diverse innovation ecosystem.
  • Integrating computer science and engineering education into city-run programs, such as the Rec to Tech initiative launching in Baltimore City Parks and Rec.
  • Providing education and work experience to students in Baltimore schools as a pathway into tech careers, most recently shown through the partnership between the City of Baltimore and Code in the Schools.

Comment: In order to create a climate for businesses of today to come to, stay and grow in Baltimore we must provide a steady pool of potential employees that match the skill sets of today with an eye towards the needed skill sets for tomorrow.

QUESTION #3: I support programs that aim to introduce technology practices and products developed by public and private sector leaders into city government.

This includes:

  • Programs which pair local tech organizations with city government departments to explore tech-enabled solutions, such as the TECHealth program.
  • Adoption of modern software development best practices, including testing of new and existing products, as described in frameworks like Agile software development.
  • Executing on the city’s five-year tech transformation plan.

Comment: Yes, I agree. Had Baltimore been working its own tech transformation plan, conceivably, 1. We may not have been subjected to the repeated ransomware attacks. 2. We would be more transparent cutting out the hiding spaces for corruption, and 3. All agencies and departments would be more effective with equal equity across all zip codes. As Mayor my philosophy we be as it is for me in my personal life: prevent is better than cure.

QUESTION #4: I believe modern economic development includes high-growth software companies.

This includes:

  • Recognizing the role private investment, like venture capital, must play in growing local communities through social entrepreneurship and other civic-minded business growth.
  • Supporting programs that aim to attract, retain and grow early stage businesses, like the ETC (Emerging Technology Centers), and its AccelerateBaltimore program, in addition to private-sector incubators like Betamore, the University of Maryland BioPark, the Johns Hopkins University FastForward, Impact Hub Baltimore, and programs like Baltimore Creatives Acceleration Network, Innovation Works and others.

Comment: Technology is an ever-changing field. It is a field that is and will be growing. Any worthwhile economic development should include and be actively courting growth sectors and technology is an ever-changing growth sector. As Mayor, I will use this space in economic development to create a STEAM to fortune 500 pipeline and encourage all our technology partners to join us in grooming the next generation of tech entrepreneurs.

QUESTION #5: I support viewing technology and entrepreneurial expansion through an equity lens.

This includes:

  • Ensuring communities of all races and geographies are supported by new projects.
  • Launching and supporting initiatives at all levels that create opportunities for more women and people of color to enter the tech industry, and potentially gain a job within city government.
  • Launching and supporting tools to promote inclusive economic growth among small businesses and ventures in Baltimore’s underinvested neighborhoods, such as the Neighborhood Impact Investment Fund.

Comment: As Mayor I will ENSURE all entrepreneurial expansion is done through an equity lens. It is my goal to create STEAM to fortune 500 pipelines in Baltimore that can be replicated in cities across the country.

QUESTION #6: I support efforts to bolster cybersecurity within the City of Baltimore, including ensuring that the city has learned lessons from two ransomware attacks over the last two years, and taking steps to prepare in the event of future attacks.

This includes:

  • Completing a review of the 2019 ransomware attack to ensure lessons are learned.
  • Establishing business continuity planning to deal with potential threats.
  • Training city employees in cybersecurity best practices.
  • Taking steps to limit potential disinformation and protect data during the U.S. Census

Comment: As Mayor I will not only work to improve cybersecurity for all agencies and departments but make sure to upgrade all as well. The unfortunate running joke during the most recent ransomware attack was the police were not affected because they are still using paper and pen and had no technology. That cannot continue.

QUESTION #7: I believe open data is a dominant trend in transparent, responsive and effective government.

This includes:

  • Maintaining and upgrading data.baltimorecity.gov.
  • Elevating, whether through a director, office or advisory committee, experts within the administration who can advise and provide recommendations on how the city can use data to increase transparency and improve services. Recent examples include the chief data officer role and open data advisory group.
  • Developing plans and strategies for programs that apply data and regular accountability to the delivery of city services and policies, such as CitiStat.

Comment: Sound leadership and decision making is based on facts, not hearsay or speculation. As Mayor, I will work to make sure we are tracking all stats so we can make informed decisions instead of flying by the seat of one’s pants as several administrations have done. We can only move forward making sound decisions based on data, stats, and facts.

QUESTION #8: I support city procurement reform to enable the City of Baltimore to more efficiently, transparently and modernly acquire the best goods and services, including the use of open source software when appropriate and preferring locally-based firms.

Comments: The blurred lines between procurement and campaign donations will be cleaned up in my administration. As Mayor I will not tolerate more of the questionable policies and double dealings that have led this city down the wrong path. We will reform the procurement process so that the city not the individuals reap the rewards.

Final comments

For far too long Baltimore has been ruled by folks that do too much in the dark. There have been far too many back deals, dirty contributions to reelection campaigns, donations for contract scams, lies and out right theft of the citizens of Baltimore. What you do in the dark comes out in the light and technology is that light. As Mayor I will work to bring that light to all the corners and hiding places in the city government.

Companies: City of Baltimore
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