After months of shaking hands and participating in mayoral debates, City Councilman Carl Stokes, D-12, decided not to run for mayor and filed for his 12th District seat instead. He made the decision the morning of July 4, one day prior to the filing deadline, he told the AFRO in a phone interview.

“It was a very difficult decision,” he said. “There were too many voices and I didn’t want to confuse the message. This is such a big deal but we have to be clear about what’s important.” He listed youth, crime reduction and prioritizing city coffers as leading issues.

Stokes approached other mayoral candidates about stepping aside, he said, but they refused.

He said constituents have encouraged him to run in his district to ensure one more “voice of strength” remains on the City Council. “They felt if I were to lose as mayor, they would also lose a strong voice in the council,” he said.

The councilman now enters a 12th District race against one of his staffers Robert Stokes (no relation), but he says it is still unclear “whether people he has encouraged to run will stay in the race.”

“I hadn’t planned on returning to the seat, so when people asked about running I did encourage them,” he explained.

For the next 60 days, Stokes says he will be an “average citizen” listening to the remaining mayoral contenders’ platforms and priorities for the city.

“For the next month, I won’t be doing anything, that’s for sure,” he said, referring to whether or not he will stump for a candidate. “Maybe in September I’ll do something.”

The crowded field of candidates for the 12th District includes eight Democrats and one Libertarian.

Remaining mayoral candidates include incumbent Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, State Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, former planning director Otis Rolley, former Baltimore Board of Realtors President Joseph T. “Jody” Landers III, Clerk of the Court Frank M. Conaway Sr., community activist Wilton Wilson, community activist Vicki Ann Harding and Republican Alfred V. Griffin.

Shernay Williams

Special to the AFRO