By Reginald Williams
Special to the AFRO
In front of an enthusiastic Cahill Recreation Center audience, Baltimore’s Mayor Brandon M. Scott announced his decision to run for re-election on Nov. 18.
Scott was supported on stage by citizens like Kamrin Brown, a former squeegee kid; Gwen Levi, a returned citizen, failed by the judicial system; Rian Hargrave, founder of Onyx Development; Baltimore City councilpersons and state senators. Scott thanked his supporters and shared his successes and reason why he’s seeking a second term.
“I’m here because I’m a son of Park Heights, which for me and young men who look like me means having been exposed to the best and worst that this city has to offer,” explained Scott. “Growing up, I was stopped, sat down on curbs and handcuffed by police simply for the crime of being Black and outside. As a young man of Baltimore, I’d been told over and over and over again by some that success wasn’t for us. Change wasn’t for us. Real leadership, positions and opportunities weren’t for us.”
“Nothing except handcuffs, trips to Central Booking and– ultimately– a trip to the morgue was ‘for us,’” said Scott, to those gathered. “I knew that wasn’t true and wanted to dedicate my life to proving those people wrong.”
Introduced by Patrick Daniels, director of speech debate at Baltimore City College and Scott’s former high school teacher, Daniels said his former student has a “campaign focused on the future.”
“Brandon Scott is the real deal,” said Daniels. “Brandon is about service. He serves our city. That is his calling.”
In just three years, Scott has laid the groundwork for $6.5 billion to flow into Baltimore during the next decade.
Before the father-to-be entered the podium under the sound of Jadakiss’ hip-hop anthem, “We Gon’ Make It,” Brown, 21, of East Baltimore, shared how his mentor’s presence in his life was life-changing.
“Let me say first, I was a squeegee kid,” Brown confessed. “Brandon plays a big role in my life. He’s been like a big brother. What more can I ask for? He’s given me time, effort, energy and the love I received was the best I could ask for. He helped me be a leader to the youth–helped me be an example.”
Elected on Nov. 3, 2020, as the 52nd mayor of Charm City, Scott, now 39, ran on a platform that vowed to restore citizens’ trust in the government and eradicate gun violence. His mission was to reduce homicides to less than 300.
Scott began his first term in the terror of a global pandemic and a city confronted by stubbornly high violence, more than 16,000 vacant buildings, trash and recycling collection issues– along with scandals usurping public trust. The city’s youngest mayor launched a campaign rooted in generational change, understanding that the old way wasn’t working to move Baltimore forward.
Baltimore in 2021, one year after Scott took office, experienced 338 homicides and 726 shootings. In 2022, there were 688 non-fatal shootings and 333 homicides. However, in 2023, Baltimore is on pace to have fewer than 300 homicides for the first time in nine years.
“Leadership is not easy. There are a number of distractions, and you have to stay focused—laser focus in order to get to the target,” said Sen. Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City-45). “But when we think about that public safety aspect, this is one of the first times we’ll see our city under 300 . Let me be clear–that happened under the leadership of Mayor Brandon Scott.”
According to Scott, his administration committed historical levels of investments to community-based violence prevention initiatives, resulting in a 20 percent reduction in homicides and a nine percent drop in non-fatal shootings. They changed how public safety operates and is viewed and renovated community recreation centers across the city. The effort included Cahill, Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center in Cherry Hill, Park Heights, with future renovations scheduled for Chick Webb, Gardenville and South Baltimore. The administration also offers career-altering programming for the youth to combat the 40-year squeegee crisis.
“I know you remember. Every single night, hearing squeegee, squeegee, squeegee, squeegee, squeegee. When was the last time you heard it,” asked Scott. “It’s because those young people are connected. We’re putting our arms around them. We’re loving them.”
Scott’s administration made the largest investment into the Baltimore educational system and pledged to shrink the wealth gap by investing $100 million to address Baltimore’s blight by facilitating new development in historical red-line neighborhoods.
“While unraveling the red-lining that started in Baltimore long ago will take decades to address, those of us close to the issue know that Mayor Scott’s administration is making the financial commitments that will outlast any mayoral term,” explained Hargraves.
Scott’s mission is to honor those Baltimoreans who have lived in the city in good and difficult times.
The charge to shrink the wealth gap will “Help residents who have lived in our city through thick and then stay in their homes by removing owner-occupied from the tax sales,” said Scott. “ invested $16 million towards repair for legacy homeowners to age in place, in their homes with the dignity they deserve.”
Revitalizing the city also calls for the administration to address the decades-long vacancy dilemma. There were approximately 16,000 vacant homes when Scott took office. Now Baltimore can applaud having their lowest number of vacancies—under 14,000—in the past 20 years.
“The work that he’s done with the build team at the GBC (Greater Baltimore Committee) really deserves to be mentioned and applauded. Brandon has committed billions—with a b—to work with the GBC to eradicate the vacant housing crisis,” explained Hargraves. She added: “My grandmother, who is here, talks about a Baltimore that is different than what we talk about today. One that was not plagued with crime. It was not riddled with vacants, and trash, and carjackings. When I think about Baltimore, I know that crime is directly related to the vacants.”
As Scott seeks to secure a second term, it’s his example that sparks the masses to believe in his leadership.
“As a teacher for 25 years, I’ve heard a lot of talk from City Hall about education being a priority. But never have I seen a mayor show up the way Mayor Scott does,” said Daniels. “He is everywhere. Schools. Sporting events. Graduation, you name it. You turn around, and he’s there. He leads from the front and shows us how to do it. He’s a role model.”
As Scott concluded his announcement and began his exit, the crowd chanted, “Four more years. Four more years.”
Aside from Scott, others have thrown their hat in the ring to become the next mayor of Charm City. On Sept. 7 Sheila Dixon announced that she was seeking to lead Baltimore as mayor once again. And on Oct. 12 Bob Wallace disclosed his intentions to become the next mayor of Baltimore City.
Reginald Williams, the author of “A Marginalized Voice: Devalued, Dismissed, Disenfranchised & Demonized” writes on Black men and Holistic Health concerns. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit amvonlinestore.com for more information.