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Sun Aug 16, 2015, 01:20 PM

Martin O'Malley focuses on policies "for all of us" in Cedar Falls stop.

As Martin O’Malley sought to reduce the violence in Baltimore, first as its mayor and then governor of Maryland, he said a rallying cry focused leaders on their end goal: “There’s no such thing in our country as a spare American.”

It was a constant reminder that the city was burying mostly young, black men at a higher rate than the rest of the country and trying to reduce that.

Now, as O’Malley is running to be the Democrats’ nominee for president, the mantra hasn’t gone away, but it has taken on a broader meaning.

O’Malley brought his latest tour to Cedar Falls on Friday afternoon, where he discussed a handful of 15 campaign goals he will be laying out to Iowans over the next few weeks.

O’Malley’s 15 goals have a common theme of restoring "the American dream' and ensure more Americans have the opportunity to participate in it.

“We’re all working harder and very few of us are getting ahead. We want our economy to work again for all of us,” O’Malley told the Courier. “Many of the things we talked about, if you take them in their totality, really what they’re about is that American yearning we have to give our children a better life than our parents gave to us. That’s the great anxiety.”

One of O’Malley’s 15 goals, outlined at a gathering of about 60 people at Bill and former state legislator Jane Teaford's home, is to make debt-free college a universal option for parents, by increasing Pell grants, offering states higher education funding incentives and reforming high school so students are more prepared to enter college.

“I feel passionately about this one,” O”Malley said. “My daughters are 24 and 23. My wife and I are both very proud of them. We enjoyed watching them graduate, and now we’re going to relive that moment for the rest of our lives, because we are one of those families that took on a mountain of debt and kind of mortgaged our retirement security, possibly, by doing that.”

He said young people should not be saddled with a lifetime of debt for doing the “right thing” and going to college.

Iowa State Rep. Deborah Berry, D-Waterloo, asked O’Malley for a deeper explanation on his thoughts on mass incarceration and sentencing reform, another one of his 15 goals.

O’Malley talked in part about ending the death penalty as governor and restoring voting rights to people with felony records.

He argued that the death penalty is something that cannot be fairly applied, is expensive and doesn’t act as a deterrent, so he worked with the his state's legislature to get rid of it.

Bill Witt, a former lawmaker from Cedar Falls, said after the event that he is still making up his mind on who to support but he’s found himself impressed with O’Malley so far.

“He has truly demonstrated enlightened leadership as governor, and I think that’s very important,” Witt said. “I think he’s working well with innovative solutions to what some people would consider intractable problems, so it’s definitely worth getting out and listening to him.”


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