IAF activists to Md. gov. candidates: We want a public relationship, not a ‘booty call’


Maryland’s democratic gubernatorial hopefuls all pledged Wednesday night to work with community activists. ((CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT) Katherine Frey/Post, Astrid Riecken/ For The Post, and Rebecca D'Angelo/For the Post)

The Baltimore pastor explained it like this: Being courted by a politician can sometimes feel like a one-night stand for community activists. In the heat of the moment, there is intense devotion and endless promises. But what happens the next morning?

“We’re not asking you to marry us. This is no request for death-do-us part relationship,” said Bishop Douglas Miles of Koinonia Baptist Church, addressing three Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls during a forum in Baltimore on Wednesday night. “But, understand, neither will we be treated as, like the young people say, as a booty call.”

The more than 1,200 activists who gathered for the forum want a “public relationship” with Maryland’s next governor, Miles said. A relationship of mutual respect. A relationship that produces results. That would mean meeting regularly with local leaders of the Industrial Areas Foundation -- a 74-year-old network of faith and community-based activists that has been a powerful force in mobilizing support for legislation. Their major issues: after-school programs, affordable housing, reducing gun violence and job creation.

To make sure that everyone understood exactly what he was talking about, the bishop broke into a song inspired by the Shirelles’ 1960s classic, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”:

Tonight you are ours completely. You will give your promises so sweetly. Tonight, the light of votes is in your eyes. But will you respect us tomorrow?

Is this a lasting treasure or just a moment’s pleasure? Can we believe the magic of your style. Will you respect us tomorrow?

Tonight, with words you’re speaking, you’ll say that we’re the only one. But will our hearts be broken when the night meets the morning sun?

Oh, will you tell us now and we won’t ask again, will you still respect us tomorrow? Will you respect us tomorrow?

Thus serenaded, the Democratic contenders – Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Douglas Gansler, and Del. Heather Mizeur (Montgomery) – took the stage for a “define the relationship” talk. Here’s how that went:

Brown (Let’s schedule seasonal rendezvous): “IAF and the community shouldn’t see the budget for the very first time when the governor sends it to the General Assembly,” Brown said, promising to meet with IAF leaders every summer as the administration begins its budget process. He added that he would invite them back in the fall to help shape the administration’s legislative agenda, and again during the springtime 90-day legislative session.

“We can meet in Annapolis. We can meet wherever you want,” Brown said.

Gansler (I want an immediate, passionate connection): “The way that I get things done is to meet with the people that share my passion,” Gansler said, explaining that many of the issues being pushed by IAF members are issues he is already passionate about.

“So, I am excited about meeting with IAF. I will be meeting with them after the primary, getting ready for the issues when I take office in January … In my opinion, we need a change. We need reform. The status quo is not working for a lot of issues that IAF is concerned with, and I happen to agree with them.”

Mizeur (Aren’t we already in a relationship?): “I think you’re setting the bar a little low to say, ‘Let’s meet a couple times a year,’” said Mizeur, adding that in her eight years as a delegate, she already has worked with the IAF to get legislation passed.

“We will always be meeting, because we always do. This is how we solve these problems together,” Mizeur continued. “I’m with you knocking on doors in communities, visiting senior centers, going to community engagements, sitting in your pews and listening to your sermons and talking after church. And putting the entire support of the administration behind this community dialogue is what it will take to get this done.”

Jenna Johnson writes about Maryland politics, including the General Assembly, the administration of Gov. Martin O'Malley and the 2014 election.
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