Baltimore State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy conceded the primary election to challenger Gregg Bernstein on Sept. 17, ending her 15-year tenure as the city’s top prosecutor.

After a count of absentee ballots on Sept. 16, Jessamy trailed Bernstein by 1,363 votes. Before speaking with the press, Jessamy met with her staff.

“I thanked them for the professionalism, dedication, and commitment they have shown and have contributed to the progress that we have made in the public safety arena in the past several years,” she said. She said she also thanked the voters and volunteers that supported her.

In a previous interview with the AFRO, Jessamy said, “I am ready to move forward.” At a press conference held to announce her concession, she shared a story about her grandfather and his message that she should not let things make her bitter, but should “make her better.” She said all her experiences over the years have done that.

“I am better and because I’m better the city will be better because I will continue to serve,” she said.

During the press conference, Jessamy spoke about the existing infrastructure of the prosecutor’s office and how it was poised to reach the next level. In an interview with the AFRO following the event, she said, “He acknowledged that I have run a good office with very competent people.”

Jessamy said she realizes some people think she should continue to challenge the apparent outcome of the close election, but believes if there’s fighting to be done, it should be for the children. “I want them to join me in the Violence to Virtue initiative,” she said.

This initiative, set to kick off in October, is a project conceived as a partnership between the state’s attorney’s office and the community. It will present programs and activities to provide instruction in virtues and help young people make choices that move them away from violence and destruction.

Jessamy says that while she still has an office to run until January, she is looking forward to devoting more time to making Violence to Virtue a success. “Sometimes things happen so you can do things that need to be done,” she said.

Larry Young, Radio One talk show host and former Maryland senator, said the close race amid a very low voter turnout was proof of the importance of each ballot.

“It is so unfair,” he said, “for people to say, ‘My vote doesn’t count.’”
Young said the Sept. 14 election saw the lowest voter turnout since 1992, because many incumbents ran unopposed and many contests did not generate voter interest. .

Young said he remained neutral in this race because he has a working relationships with both candidates. However, he cautioned that Bernstein needs to monitor talk that he will be unfair and too much a friend to the police. The accusations, Young said, can send up red flags in the community and limit him to one term in office.

“When he is right, we will let him know it,” Young said. “When he’s wrong, we will do the same. I hope I can turn around and say, ‘I’m proud of him.’”

 

Talibah Chikwendu

Special to the AFRO