By Deborah Bailey, Special to the AFRO
Nathaniel McFadden, State Senator of Baltimore’s 45th District, Senate President Pro Tem and chair of Baltimore’s senate delegation leaves his post this year, having played a critical role in providing representation and using every method in his legislative toolkit to ensure his district’s needs were heard in Annapolis.
First elected to serve the 45th district in November 1995, McFadden came to the Maryland General Assembly and his supporters say he exhibited a careful combination of vigilant advocacy and diplomacy to advance legislation and critical state appropriations for the needs of the East Baltimore communities he represented.
Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, the venerable East Baltimore politician served in the State Senate for more than two decades, before being defeated by Del. Cory McCray June 26. (Courtesy photo)
They say McFadden walked that careful line, often making a personal call or visit to others who could help move an issue forward throughout his years of service.
“Nathaniel McFadden is a true statesman who, for more than two decades, has fought tirelessly for the people he is sworn to represent. It is not uncommon for Sen. McFadden to call my office personally about an issue facing one of his constituents,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-7th).
McFadden grappled with the dilemma many Baltimore City legislators in Annapolis face; working with legislators in other parts of the state with little understanding of urban challenges. Moving through the ranks of the legislative process to become Senate President Pro Tem was one of the ways McFadden sought to create alliances that would benefit the 45th district and the city of Baltimore.
“Sen. McFadden rose through the ranks of the Maryland Senate to become Senate President Pro Tem. There is no doubt that his leadership and insights will be missed in Annapolis, but I am certain that Sen. McFadden will continue his life’s work of service to our community,” Cummings said.
Many residents of the 45th believe McFadden delivered on change needed in the district. The East Baltimore community was for many years overwhelmed with abandoned housing, blight, drugs, crime and poor living conditions for many.
McFadden worked with a coalition of residents, institutions, including Johns Hopkins Hospital and community-based organizations, such as the Broadway East Community Association and East Broadway Development, to initiate a nationally recognized redevelopment process that has transformed large parts of East Baltimore.
“The State of Maryland, Baltimore City and the EBDI project have benefited tremendously from Nathaniel McFadden’s service in the Maryland State Senate,” said Cheryl Washington, president and CEO of East Baltimore Development Inc. (EBDI).
“Senator McFadden’s advocacy, leadership, and stewardship of the state’s resources were critical in helping EBDI achieve the substantial level of progress it has made towards the revitalization and redevelopment of Eager Park in Baltimore’s eastside, particularly during the great housing recession several years ago. EBDI and the East Baltimore community will always be grateful for his service,” Washington said.
The new “Middle East” project is far from the last word on community development needed in the 45th district. McFadden himself told the AFRO in a November 2017 interview that the changes needed in Baltimore just take time.
“Seventeen years ago, we looked at East Baltimore and saw the crime and the devastation, and the drug problem and we said we need to attack it in multiple ways: health, education, housing…skill development and that takes time,” McFadden said.
Although McFadden made a bid for another term in Annapolis, the 71-year-old State Senator publicly stated on several occasions that it would have been his last term. On June 26th, McFadden gave way to a new generation of state leadership in the same courteous, gentle way that he greeted constituents, friends and even his enemies on a daily basis. McFadden lost to first time Delegate Cory McCray.
Addressing his constituents, McFadden bowed out gracefully with gratitude for having touched the lives of his constituents and served his Maryland home for a generation.
“It is now time it has been a wonderful 24 years as a State Senator and 5 as a City Councilman. I have been truly blessed and its now time for the next generation of leaders. I have left them a strong foundation to build upon. Thank you for all you have done for me, especially your prayers,” McFadden said.
“God never makes a mistake and never puts more on you then you can handle He is Good all the time.”