Kim Trueheart, right, is the only person running against Bernard C. “Jack” Young for the position of president of the Baltimore City Council. (Courtesy Photos)
The two Democratic candidates for City Council President have three things in common: both were born and raised in Baltimore, both graduated from Baltimore city schools – and both are passionate about the city. That’s where the similarities end. Incumbent City Council President Bernard C. ”Jack” Young and his outspoken challenger on the Democratic side, Kim Truehart, have decisively traveled different paths to seek the City Council presidency in the upcoming April 26th Baltimore city primary election.
“I’m not an activist, I’m an active citizen out here doing what every citizen should be doing,” said Trueheart in response to her most recent confrontation with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake in January at City Hall. “I was just asking the Mayor ‘why are you wasting our money’, “said Truehart, who regularly attends City Council and Baltimore City School Board meetings and heckles officials. Truehart attends publicly held hearings and meetings where city business is being discussed as often as possible and has confronted Mayor Rawlings-Blake on a variety of proposals.
The impetus behind her decision to move from active citizen to citizen-candidate came when she discovered that Young was running unopposed in the race for City Council President. “On February 3, I woke up and saw Jack Young was running unopposed,” Trueheart said. “I was sure someone was going to step up and run against him – but nobody did. An incumbent running unopposed seems undemocratic to me.”
Truehart believes that she can raise issues that won’t get attention without her presence. “Since February 3rd, I’ve attended half-a-dozen citizen forums and he (Young) hasn’t attended any of them,” Trueheart said. “The people of the community deserve to hear from their elected officials. Not showing up is simply unacceptable.”
But Young countered that he is accessible to the citizens who propelled him to the City Council presidency in 2011, when he took over from Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who went on to become mayor. “I am someone who cares about Baltimore and its citizens – especially for those who have no voice,” Young said. “I’ve been the advocate for new schools, for our youth, for transparency in government, and for the everyday needs of the people.”
Young emphasized the practical changes he has championed as City Council President as evidence of support for underserved Baltimoreans. “I’ve fought for low and moderate income housing, for a payment plan for water bills and I was responsible for changing the parking ticket system,” Young said. “Parking tickets used to go on and on in Baltimore.” He said that the cap in parking fines is just one small effort that helps “every day” citizens where it matters most.
According to polls, Young is likely to win the April 26th primary election, and is eager to work with a new Mayor who seeks collaboration with the City Council. “My immediate priority is to get to work with a ‘we and us Mayor,’ said Young. “I can work with any Mayor – I just want someone who will work with the Council.”
Young is determined to ensure that 3% of every tax dollar in the city’s general fund goes to The City’s Youth Fund, voted on by Baltimore City Council in January. Mayor StephanieRawlings Blake vetoed the Council’s action to create a youth fund shortly after its passage because she said she was concerned about tying up city funds, even for a purpose she called commendable.
Whatever happens in the upcoming municipal primary, Trueheart will continue to work on improving life for Baltimoreans. “I’m going to work on providing greater opportunities for our city. I am here to serve the city and the residents that nobody else understands.”