After over 20 years serving Baltimore City’s second district, City Councilman Nicholas D’Adamo has decided not to run for reelection. Now, seven newcomers to elected office – all Black – are competing for his seat in the only city race without an incumbent.
Candidates for the Northeast district include a former aide to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, two educators, a health care provider, a museum attendant, a federal case manager and a steamfitter.
Three of the candidates are young Black men under the age of 35.
Scott, 27, is a neighborhood liaison for Recreation and Parks and a former aide to Rawlings-Blake. He touts the largest sum of campaign funds – over $22,000 as of early August – and was endorsed by D’Adamo, Rawlings-Blake and Delegate Cheryl D. Glenn.
The Baltimore-born St. Mary’s College graduate said his experience working with community members on behalf of the city, including his work to bring a Frisbee golf course to Lake Montebello and a supermarket to Howard Park, makes him the most qualified. “This district can’t afford to have someone learning on the job,” he said. “And that’s why you need someone like me, who knows the issues, knows how to resolve the issues, and has been working towards that.”
He wants to bring chain stores back to the Bel Air Road corridor and require police to respond to low priority crimes, like petty thefts, via the phone or Internet. But several of his challengers say that Scott is part of the Baltimore “political machine” that is failing the city.
Jamaal Simpson, a museum attendant who is also 27, said, “I believe that the people who are currently in office and everybody that is attached to them should not be in office anymore.”
Simpson has managed political campaigns for Kent Harris and Kinji Scott, and ran an unsuccessful bid for the House of Delegates last year. He said city leaders can curb crime by encouraging more neighborhood patrols.
Crime prevention is a personal priority for Simpson. He lost his brother to gun violence in 1992. “The key to addressing those issues is to address the social issues that are happening in the community,” he said.
Simpson and another contender Anthony Hamilton agree that Baltimore should regain full control of city schools. Hamilton is a community college professor, education coordinator and single father of four. “I think that the edge that our Second District needs is … one that’s not going to be afraid to challenge the superpowers that exist in our city government,” he said.
The 32-year-old also cited maintenance of the Inner Harbor as a key issue, insisting that “city government can do a better job in regulating as well as appropriating resources to better clean and keep those resources functioning.”
Another educator in the race, Cynthia Ross, recently retired after 36 years as a Baltimore City elementary school teacher. She is now the foster parent of two girls.
“I’m really concerned about the quality of life for the elderly and for juveniles,” she said.
“There’s got to be something more we can do.”
If elected, the 61-year-old said she would hold community meetings every other month. She supports aggressive policing of violent criminals and vows to look into illegal group homes that are rumored to be on the rise in the district. “I’m a novice at political life, but I’m willing to get in there and try to see if I can do something to help.”
Ross and another Second District candidate Emmett Guyton ran to represent the 13th District during the last city elections. Ross says she owns a house in the 13th and the Second and chose to add her name to the ballot in 2007 as a “trial run.” Guyton has deep roots in the 13th District and said he moved to the Second District shortly before elections in 2007. He said he is confident his reputation will transcend district lines. “My reputation speaks for itself,” he said.
Guyton, a steamfitter and activist, worked with his brother, Clayton, to open a community center and transitional house. He says Baltimore should stiffen penalties for previous offenders. “We have to work with our state’s attorney to create laws that’s going to give them more time for the crimes they are committing” he said.
On the other hand, candidate Shereese Maynard-Tucker, a business owner and healthcare provider, argued that crime is widespread because municipal leaders need to strengthen their rapport with law enforcement. “If your police department does not have a good relationship with the city government, they can’t perform their jobs,” she said.
The race’s only Republican challenger said one of her main priorities is job creation through the support of small businesses. “I think the city really needs to reinvest in small businesses and not only through tax incentives but simply making it possible for them to have businesses in the city,” she said.
Another candidate, federal case manager Sharita Daniels Obiora said she wants to reverse the inequities she’s witnessed while working in the criminal justice system. “I saw a lot of things that were unfair and I also saw a lot of things that could be changed that would bring financial benefit.”
She vows to launch a citywide bank account program and permit residents to purchase vacant houses in their neighborhood at a lower price.
Baltimore City’s primary is Sept. 13.