I Live in Elijah Cummings’ District
By Kendra Miller
I have watched the Twitter battles between President Trump and the Democrats with some amusement and sadness. I find it ironic that the House can vote to agree that they think his tweets are racist, and yet they are unable to even begin to find a workable solution for the border crisis. I think they’re focusing on the wrong things.
The Twitter battle between President Trump and Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings (D-7th District) has been particularly interesting to watch. I happen to live in the 7th District and thought I could provide an insider’s perspective.
Cummings’ district comprises areas that were gerrymandered in 2013 to redistrict Republican strongholds in northern Baltimore County and western Howard County – merging them into existing Democratic areas and effectively removing any Republican representation in an already Democratic-leaning state.
We tend to have more raccoons and deer than rats where I live, but I do have to go into the city for meetings and to catch the train. When I travel into Baltimore, I carry mace on my keychain and another one in my pocket. I am extremely vigilant and cautious. I schedule my trains during times that should be somewhat safer because the station is in a questionable part of town and a relative was brutally attacked there years ago. Sadly, I have watched the city’s decline over the years. Panhandlers and scammers are everywhere, and I regularly encounter them on my trips into the city.
I spent many happy years around Harbor Place in my teens and early 20s, and felt safe there until I was almost jumped on a walkway leading from the Light Street Pavilion to the Hyatt Regency one evening. I stayed at another Inner Harbor Hotel for a work event several years ago. Over the course of two days, I watched police arrest a woman in front of the World Trade Center, had to be concerned about being attacked by a group of teenagers blocking the entrance to the hotel and was accosted by a vagrant in the entry to the hotel when coming from the parking garage. The city is definitely not what it once was.
The rat problem is nothing new – when I worked in the city 20 years ago, we always had to watch for rats because they were the size of groundhogs. As far as safety, two police employees were attacked in the city over the last week, so I can see where these events would make people feel uncomfortable in the city. The feedback on social media here seems to agree with the President and many feel that he was only stating the obvious. The new police commissioner and mayor have huge challenges ahead. Sadly, I think that much of Baltimore’s troubles are heart and sin issues – life in any form has little value, teens have few positive role models and there are no absolutes anymore because everyone does what is right in their own eyes.
Cummings asked where the Republican leadership in the city was. I happen to know for a fact that one of the leaders behind the resurgence of the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce was an ardent Republican supporter who was only interested in trying to revitalize the city he loved. I knew the Republican candidate for Mayor in the last election. A smart, capable man who would have made an excellent mayor. In a city with a strong Democratic stranglehold, any Republican running for office is a very longshot, but it is unfair for Cummings to say they don’t care. Ironically, I don’t ever remember seeing or hearing about Mr. Cummings doing anything for those of us who reside outside of the city but still within his district. Perhaps he should spend a little more time tending to what goes on at home.
Kendra Miller is a writer and book editor based in Maryland.