One of the “baby bears” in the Baltimore City political dynasty known as the Conaways has fallen. During primary elections this week, Councilwoman Belinda K. Conaway of the seventh district was unseated in a tight race against Verizon network engineer Nick Mosby. Preliminary tallies show Mosby won by 648 votes.

Conaway —a veteran Baltimore City teacher and guidance counselor—and her family have dominated elections for years.

Her father Clerk of the Court and failed mayoral candidate, Frank Conaway Sr., her brother 40th district state Del. Frank Conaway Jr. and mother, Register of Wills Mary Conaway coasted to re-election during last year’s state elections.

But the family’s “Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Baby Bear” slogans couldn’t help Conaway this election, who faced a bruising year of unsuccessful redistricting battles and residency issues.

Attempts to contact Conaway for this article were unsuccessful.

Mosby credits his win to a strong campaign strategy and ability to connect with voters, but he admits that he benefited from what almost seemed like a political consensus to abandon Conaway. Many media and labor groups—several of which typically endorse incumbents–threw their support behind Mosby, including the Baltimore Sun, City Paper and AFL-CIO. The AFRO also supported Mosby.

“We were able to capitalize on that,” Mosby said in a phone interview with the AFRO. “But endorsements from politicians, media, the labor community—they don’t necessarily transfer to victory when you are fighting a name.”

He frowns upon labels that he is a part of the “establishment” because of his wide political support.

“I’m far from the establishment,” he said. “My campaign was created in my living room.”

Discontent about Conaway’s constituent services, he said, played a larger role in his win.

The 32-year-old Reservoir Hill resident lost an opportunity to represent the neighboring 11th District in 2007 to Councilman William H. Cole IV. Citywide redistricting shifted his community into Conaway’s district this year.

If he fends off Republican challenger Michael J. Bradley in November’s general election—as is widely predicted—Mosby plans to fight for more transparent and efficient government and focus on youth services as the district’s City Councilman.

“I know that the person I am today would not be the case without the afterschool programs and the enrichment that I was able to partake in,” Mosby said.

Another fresh face to emerge from the city primary is the second district’s Parks and Recreation liaison Brandon Scott. Scott, a former aid to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, easily won the council’s only open seat to replace 20-year City Council veteran Nicholas D’Adamo, who chose not to seek reelection. He captured 56 percent of the vote.

Scott, 27, beamed, when asked about his win at Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s election night party.

“For me, it’s the culmination of my life’s work and all that my family instilled in me,” he said. “But it’s not about me. It’s about the people of Baltimore. I’m so grateful to them and I’m excited they see me as a young man that understands the struggle of the city and can help turn it around.”

Scott vows to help revitalize the Bel Air Road corridor and require police to respond to low priority crimes, like petty thefts, via the phone or internet.

Despite several contested races, all other City Council representatives retained their seat, including City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young. The closest race was between Councilman Warren M. Branch and former television producer Shannon Sneed in the 13th District. Early poll figures indicate Branch narrowly won by a mere 15 votes.

 

Shernay Williams

Special to the AFRO