Catalina Byrd is running for mayor in the general election on Nov. 8. The lesser known challenger will face incumbent Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and a 67-year stronghold by the democratic party on the highest elected office in the city. A win for her on election day would mean that at least 15,000 of the 372,000 registered voters in Baltimore City wrote her name in on the ballot. Preliminary numbers provided by the election board indicate that since early voting began On Oct. 28, low voter turn out will likely be a factor in the race. The 30 year-old mother, political consultant and Internet radio show host said she is prepared and remains hopeful about the upcoming race, for which she ran a primarily grass roots campaign. Part of her optimism stems from young voters connecting through social media to indicate she has their support. Her social media savvy and face to face campaign style might prove the victor on Election Day. After all, a similar strategy worked for a little known senator from Illinois.

AFRO: What drives you to run for the Office of the Mayor?

Catalina Byrd: I’m from the ninth district. The supermarket used to be across the street from my house. Right now there are no supermarkets in the ninth district. I don’t understand the people that are so blindly loyal to the party. They don’t see that especially for Black people, the city has continued to decline under this leadership. Regardless of how the faces have changed, it’s all the Democratic Party. I am committed to the people of Baltimore who have suffered under it. I’m willing to put myself out there to accomplish my goals for the people and the city. It’s worth it.

AFRO: Your father ran for office in Baltimore City as a Republican and you are running in the upcoming election as an independent. When you made the decision to run did you consider aligning yourself with the Republican Party so that you could benefit from the party support?

CB: I’m actually running as an unaffiliated candidate. But the potential support wasn’t enough for it to be viable. There are only 33,000 registered republicans in Baltimore City. There are 120,000 third party registered voters in the city, so they are the minority. Also when I got old enough to vote George W. Bush was the president. He was nothing like his father. I did not agree with his policies so as the leader of the Republican Party I could not in good conscience affiliate myself with the party. I had no intentions of being a democrat because I grew up here my whole life and watched democrats use Black votes to get where they want to be professionally without regard for the people. However I do still believe in the process.

AFRO: How do you think that will play put for you, if elected, when you have to go to Annapolis and operate within the two party system to accomplish your goals for the city?

CB: I’ve worked as a campaign operative ever since I came out of high school, starting out with volunteering, going door to door and working my way up through the ranks of campaign strategy and management. I’ve already worked across party lines. I supported President Obama but I also supported former governor Robert Ehrlich. I supported former mayor Sheila Dixon but I’m also keeping a close eye on the race in the fourth district between a young republican Ebony Edwards and Bill Henry. My ability to work across party lines is already there; it’s about whether or not they are going to be willing to work with me. One of the greatest impediments to our policies is that if it gets initiated by a republican then democrats block it and vice versa, so I have to pick my battles. As mayor I can’t propose legislation, so I still need a delegate on my side. I’m more focused on building and maintaining relationships.

AFRO: Which campaigns were you a part of either at the local or state level?

CB: I was in North Carolina when I worked for President Obama on the grassroots level. Locally, I’ve worked for Gov. Ehrlich last year, Michael Steele in 2006, Sen. Catherine Pugh, Del. Robinson, but I don’t think it counts on your resume. This year because I was running I couldn’t take on clients as a political consultant but I did offer the benefit of my wisdom to any young candidates that wanted it.

 

Melissa Jones

Special to the AFRO