Part two of this council district breakdown brings us to some of the most contested races of the season. While as I am sure all contestants feel that their campaigns are competitive and interesting, in terms of pundit interest three of these seven races are certainly the ones most political analysts will be watching.
First, the 8th district has to be of interest based on the recent conviction of incumbent Helen Holton, who faces off against two very viable and interesting candidates. Dayvon Love is the young new comer who has made in-roads based on his youth and relative political inexperience; however David Smallwood is the veteran community organizer and odds on favorite to replace Holton – though both may cancel each other out allowing for Holton to continue her service in the council? The 9th district will be of certain interest as long time councilwoman Agnes Welch retired last year leaving her son to take over the day-to-day operations at least for the remainder of her term. Now that William ‘Pete’ Welch has to come before the electorate, he has eight challengers with the strongest being that of the Welch nemesis, Michael Eugene Johnson. Though Johnson came in a close second to the elder Welch in 2007, with seven other challengers diluting his anti-incumbent vote he’ll need to be the name recognized Welch son, he may come a little short?
The 12th district is probably the most exciting of all, having the incumbent Carl Stokes recently being appointed to the seat once held by now Council President Bernard ‘Jack’ Young. Having run for Mayor for the first 6-months of this year’s election cycle, deciding rather to run for the seat he announced on ValueMyVote2011 video that he would not seek, rather only filling out Young’s term; now he enters a race crowded with some great candidates. However, as the Mt. Vernon business district President Jason Curtis is being questioned about his in-kind contributions being possibly illegal, as the Board of Elections prohibits these ‘free-be’ services to be written off when it comes to your campaign treasurer and chairman – unless they are trained and certified in these areas and offer them as a free or bartering business exchange, which they clearly do not – it will be interesting to see how the FOP endorsed candidate makes out at the polls. Thereby, these gaffes by him and Stokes – mentioned in the 12th district write-up at the bottom of the page – should leave a great chance for two newcomers, Odette Ramos and Devon Brown. Both are exciting, well endorsed and financed enough to make a great showing on Election Day. The O’Malley-backed 21-year old Brown, along with the 37-year old Latina who has the support of elective giants such as Delegates Mary Washington and Maggie McIntosh; along with council members Bill Henry and Mary Pat Clarke – each are the likely favorites to knock off the longtime politico Carl Stokes?
In a year in which the fundraising operations of most candidates are lower than previous years – mainly based on the recent unstable economic market – some candidates’ have made considerable in-roads into challenging their incumbent competitors through increased low-end donations and hi-tech social media venues.
Therefore, this is a brief oversight of the districts, as well as some which are highlighted that are considered districts up-for-grabs dependent on political pundit insight, considering the strength of the challengers and based on the weakness of the incumbent; as well as analyzing the public sentiment of that district and the overview of political contributions to each candidate. This is NOT an endorsement process of any type, nor is it a guaranteed outcome of the upcoming Primary Elections; it is simply a political observation based on the previously stated information – determined by politically proven methods of observation and historical outcomes of the past.
This race may be quietly the most interesting of them all, though a lot of focus and attention has yet to be given to this West Baltimore contest. In a district where the incumbent was convicted of a crime during her elected term of service, this being the first election since that debacle it should be interesting to see if any of the candidates can capitalize on it? The obvious frontrunner has to be David Smallwood, who after running a few times in the past and coming closer and closer each time around, would certainly be the ideal competitor and champion of the anti-incumbent voter! Though the young and vibrant Dayvon Love has made in-roads in this race, based on bringing ‘Love back to the 8th District’, his youth and inexperience will not be received well by the voters of a district that probably has the most senior voters than any other district in Baltimore? Smallwood is known for both his community advocacy and political ambitions, thereby leaving him a perfect candidate for change; however Love may take from that much needed base of voters Smallwood would certainly need to beat the still popular Holton. This race to me is a mini-version of the Mayor’s race, based on the dislike and contempt for the incumbent, yet the divided field may very well allow for the incumbent to win re-election? And though Republicans NEVER win in Baltimore City, whoever wins the Primary Election will still have to face a well versed and good guy from the GOP, his name is Dennis Betzel! If any conservative candidate could ever win in Baltimore it would certainly be Dennis!
Saving the best for last, at least in terms of how I wrote this article, I had to hold off on this very interesting race in Baltimore’s poorest and most terrible district in terms of wealth, boarded up and abandoned houses, along with voter registration and participation. Having been represented by Agnes Welch for 27-years until late last year when the council decided to appoint her son William ‘Pete’ Welch as her replacement upon her December retirement; this district is certainly aching for real change and leadership! Having nine candidates filed in the 9th district, the obvious frontrunner of them all, at least in terms of challengers, has to be Michael Eugene Johnson. Having run in years past, coming in a close second to Welch in 2007, Johnson has been running non-stop since that narrow defeat; knocking on doors and making sure his name appears in the press at a considerable pace! However, Johnson’s fundraising ability has floundered raising only $1400 and spending almost all of that leaving only $200 cash-on-hand? Though the many candidates running convolute the process and essentially give Welch the added advantage (not to mention $15K cash-on-hand he has left from almost $35 in fundraising), Johnson’s considerable name recognition and nonstop street team door presence throughout even the hottest of Baltimore’s summer days, may get him the office he’s been seeking since I can remember? However, the Welch name is certainly a dynasty in this district and in this city for that matter; thereby leaving the race up to Pistol Pete to lose? Others running are Abigail Breiseth, John Bullock, Derwin Hannah, Quianna Cooke, Janet Bailey, Waymon LeFall and Chris Taylor.
This contest is possibly the most disappointing of all the races, as most believed coming in that incumbent Edward Reisinger was one of the most vulnerable council members running for re-election; yet faced no real challengers in the Primary, yet would have faced a considerably credible Independent challenger in the General Election – yet Adam Van Bavel wasn’t able to garner enough district voter signatures to get onto the ballot in November. Though he will be filing as a ‘write-in’ candidate, it is in no way the same, having to make the voter know to write in your name, as opposed to having your name actually on the ballot. Though Bill Marker and Erica White are making a push to unseat Reisinger in this year’s Primary Elections, while Marker is known for running in year’s past and may not seemed to be financed well and well organized enough to beat an entrenched incumbent like Ed, Marker has already sent one direct mailer with another on the way before Election Day! Though Reisinger came close to losing in the last election cycle of 2007, I believe he’ll pull this one off with ease?
Represented by Councilman William ‘Bill’ Cole, without a Primary Challenger he has this district on lock.
This district was represented by now Council President Bernard ‘Jack’ Young for over a decade, through more than three elected terms before being elected by his council colleagues in February 2010, to fill the role of outgoing Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The council appointed former councilman and failed Mayoral candidate Carl Stokes to serve out the remainder of Young’s term, in which Stokes’ considered not running for the seat he was in – considering instead to use it to catapult him back into the mayoral mix, considering a run for Baltimore’s top spot.
After announcing his run for Mayor throughout the beginning six months of 2011, Stokes’ original decision not to run led to an array of credible candidates filling to run for council in this East Baltimore district. With a host of community related problems obviously existing throughout the years of representation by Councilman Young, this district is aching for change and most consider the absent of Stokes for the first 6-months a slap in the face that have allowed the other candidates to make considerable in-roads in getting to know the frustrated voters of this district – as well as garnering their support before Stokes decided to get back into the race. The problem is – most have not raised anywhere near the amount of money Stokes’ has – as he spent more money on one media consultant (who is worth every dime he paid and then some) than the entire amount young 12th district challenger Devon Brown has raised in total.
Having recently reported on this district in Friday’s Examiner article, this district becomes interesting based on popular sentiment of a Odette Ramos victory. Even fellow Council colleagues of Stokes’ have been privately waging their bets against the outspoken councilman, becoming more impressed with the possibility of Baltimore electing its first Latina representative? Yet, even as Stokes’ remains a force to be reckoned with in this district, based solely of his name recognition and years of service; his recent court battle regarding a lead paint suit being filed against him in December, in which the courts have now found him in default for not showing to the many scheduled hearings – may prove costly if any of the candidates actually raise this issue to the constituents of this district. In a council district that is filled with poverty driven boarded-up vacant properties, surrounded by filth, rats and the influx of a gentrified Johns Hopkins controlled district; the voters of this district are clearly fed up thereby probably leaving the anti-incumbent sentiment squarely on the front porch of Stokes’ elective doorstep! Also running are great folks like Jermaine Jones, Ertha Harris and Frank Richardson!
This district is of great concern as well, as three great candidates are vying for the seat held by the family member of East Baltimore delegate Talmadge Branch – Councilman Warren Branch. Though not very articulate in his passions, views or vision for this City, or even this district; Branch faces some Primary challengers that can not only articulate their plans and goals, in some cases they have already been doing it – without the title of councilperson. For instance, Kimberly Armstrong is a community activist and child advocate who after losing her son to the mean streets of Baltimore years ago has been an outspoken agent of change over there in the dilapidated and crime riddled streets of the 13th district. Her challengers, Antonio Glover and former WJZ-TV13 writer Shannon Sneed, are both great advocates of the communities throughout the district, as well as having a vision for Baltimore as a whole. You’ll find Mrs. Sneed at community events and candidate functions throughout the City, as well as hanging out with Malik and I at City Hall for the bi-monthly city council meetings. Having a passion for this City, a strong urge to do what is right for their neighborhoods, all three are worthy of representing this downtrodden district, yet suffer from the same dilemma as most other districts such as the 8th, 9th, 12th and citywide Mayoral race; it is too many great challengers, leaving the vote divided and allowing for the subpar incumbent to gain another four years of mediocre service and absent representation!
Represented by Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, without a Primary Election challenger she has this district on lock!
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