ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Comptroller Peter Franchot outlined a plan Monday to increase equity and inclusion for Black Maryland residents as part of his campaign for governor, including a pledge to name a Black woman as his running mate.

Franchot, a Democrat, announced he would create a Cabinet-level office called the Secretary of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to review state policies. The secretary would release a report on promoting diversity in government, addressing existing biases in government policies and promoting economic opportunity.

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If recreational marijuana is legalized in a ballot initiative, the comptroller said he would focus on ensuring it would help economic growth in areas of the state disproportionately affected by enforcement for cannabis-related offenses and addresses past criminal justice inequities.

Franchot also noted plans to explore creating a state-owned bank to ensure access to credit for Maryland small businesses, particularly minority- and women-owned businesses.

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Another part of the proposal would seek to provide state-backed mortgage loans to people in communities of color with a goal of creating parity in new homeownership rates by the end of his first term.

The comptroller also outlined plans for a pilot eviction diversion plan. Under the program, the state would offer short-term rent payments directly to landlords for tenants who can prove a substantial and temporary loss of income.

Franchot is running in a crowded Democratic primary for next year’s election. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is term limited.

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