Had the city of Baltimore not been in the throes of another record wave of violence, 2nd District Councilman Brandon Scott’s appearance at the Idlewood community association meeting last month in the 4th district would have been unremarkable.

But his talk to a group of residents outside his constituency on how best to address another seemingly unrelenting stretch of violence has some saying Scott is laying the groundwork for a run against Mayor Catherine Pugh in 2020.

2nd District Councilman Brandon Scott. (Courtesy Photo)

“I knew why he was there,” said a political observer who attended the meeting but did not wish to be named. “I don’t know if anyone else did, but it was pretty obvious.”

Perhaps Scott’s desire to be the city’s next mayor is obvious to some.  However, the 32-year old councilman, who won his second term to serve the 2nd district in 2016 says his appearance was the result of an invitation, not a sign of higher ambitions.

“I have been going to meetings in other areas when asked my entire elected life,” Scott told the AFRO. “Right now, the violence is the focus, I’m not afforded time to play politics three years into the future. “

But the community meeting in Idlewood is not the only high profile move by Scott in recent months. A series of well publicized maneuvers that seemed in part aimed at raising his profile, if not his odds of winning a city-wide election.

Just before Halloween the second term councilman declared a crime emergency, summoning police commanders and other public safety officials to council chambers with little advance notice for an afternoon briefing before the Public Safety Committee, which he chairs.

“This was a reopening of a hearing we ended in July because they had not presented a plan,” Scott explained.  “We recalled it at that time because of increasing violence.”

The police department pushed back.  Commissioner Kevin Davis refused to attend, citing preparations for the sometimes raucous Halloween celebration in the city.

“The response was disappointing and unacceptable,” Scott said via text message.  “We followed the rules of the council and city charter so all agencies should have been there.”

If indeed his recent moves presage a run for mayor, Scott is perfectly positioned to make his case.

Along with his high-profile chairmanship of the council’s public safety committee, Scott has been outspoken on the issue of policing strategy for years.  In fact, several months ago Scott and his fellow committee members released their own crime plan called “Live to Bmore,” a comprehensive blueprint for reducing violence that called for a crackdown on truancy, increasing job training, and focus on guns and repeat violent offenders.

All of this activity comes amid another record year of violence, with homicides up 13 percent this year alone.  As of Nov. 21, there were 309 homicides recorded in Baltimore. Add a well-publicized rash of violent juvenile crimes and some say Scott is simply taking the lead on an issue that needs fresh ideas.

“I think he’s been a bold leader on the issue,” said Councilman Kristerfer Burnett, vice-chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee.

Focusing on crime as a path to the city’s top job is not without precedent.

In 1999, then councilman Martin O’Malley promised to cut the city’s homicide roughly in half if elected.  A goal he tried, but failed to achieve through a controversial policy called zero tolerance which led to the illegal arrest of tens of thousands of African-American residents.

But supporters note that Scott’s policy initiatives are more focused on alleviating long festering social ills, not just punishment.

“He’s been looking for long term solutions,” Burnett said.

As for the possibility that Scott may seek higher office, Burnett says it’s news to him too.

“That’s not a conversation we’ve ever had.”