Last summer, David Ware and his wife Sarah Hoover answered separate calls to come to Baltimore.
Michael Ross keeps coming back to Baltimore. This past July, the Milwaukee native returned to the city for the fourth time to take over as managing director of Center Stage, a position he previously held from 2002 to 2008. During his eight-year hiatus from Baltimore’s largest nonprofit professional theater, Ross served as managing director of the Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut. Throughout his career, he also has consulted on fundraising, board development, executive search, and strategic planning for theaters nationwide.
Upon meeting Ross, his firm handshake, quick smile, and roaring laugh make him seem at once like a trusted friend and the centerpiece of the room. After spending some time with him, what also becomes evident is Ross’s love of Baltimore and his desire to grow its cultural scene, his devotion to Center Stage in particular, and his belief in the power of the theater in general. Recently, he expounded on these themes and more in an interview with Baltimore Fishbowl.
Why have you decided to return to Center Stage?
To Elizabeth Embry, reducing violent crime in Baltimore while also reducing arrests is not wishful thinking; it’s the only way forward. She has put together a Blueprint for Fighting Crime that views improvements in education, economic opportunity, business investment, public health, and housing as fundamental to curbing crime.
It’s this kind of holistic approach that Embry credits with helping to reduce violent crime and homicides in the city to historically low levels during her tenure as Deputy State’s Attorney.
Councilman Carl Stokes was first elected to Baltimore City Council in 1987, where he served until 1995, the same year he accepted an appointment to Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners. In 1999, he ran for mayor of Baltimore but lost the Democratic nomination to Martin O’Malley. Since then, Stokes has helped to found two public charter schools in the city (each offer year-round study and three meals a day) and returned to the City Council, where he has been a critic of Baltimore property tax rates and utility fees.
In the wake of the Freddie Gray protests and riots, Stokes made national headlines for venting his frustration at the use of the word “thugs” to describe black Baltimore youth to CNN’s Erin Burnett. I asked Stokes, who is again seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor, about the divide in public opinion over that statement; the relationship between public safety, education, and employment opportunities; and how a Stokes administration would tackle the city’s most deep-seated issues.
Baltimore Fishbowl: What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Councilman Carl Stokes: Take care of your family.
BFB: In a recent interview, you said that improving public safety requires not only investment and improvements in policing but also in education, recreation, jobs, and after-school activities, among other things. When an issue like public safety is determined by so many direct and indirect factors, how do you, as mayor, actually decide how to prioritize spending to achieve the greatest impact?
CS: The best practices and statistics before us inform us on how to proceed. When a community’s adult population is gainfully employed at wages that allow them to sustain themselves and their families economically, we know that crime is much less.
Green Party’s Emanuel McCray on His Run for Mayor of Baltimore, Plans to Fight for ‘Regular Citizens’
Formed in 2000, Baltimore City’s growing Green Party has roughly 1,000 residents registered. Emanuel McCray is the Green Party’s mayoral candidate in the 2016 race. As the party’s name suggests, ecological sustainability is a key focus, but just as important are social and economic justice issues. In their words, Green Party members are grassroots activists, environmentalists, advocates for social justice, nonviolent resisters, and regular citizens who’ve had enough of corporate-dominated politics. This is Emanuel McCray’s second run for mayor, and below he shares what makes this year’s bid unique, and why he’s excited to throw his hat into Baltimore’s ring of mayoral candidates.
Joshua Harris on His Run for Mayor of Baltimore, What Basketball Taught Him and Creating Jobs Through Energy Efficiency
Joshua Harris, a community organizer and nonprofit co-founder, puts his leadership and campaign skills to the test as he runs in the crowded race for mayor of Baltimore. Exuding confidence, Harris shared in an interview with Baltimore Fishbowl why he believes he’s uniquely qualified for the job.
Among the highlights, Harris explained how playing basketball prepared him to be mayor, touched on his plans to use renewable energy to spark an economic resurgence, talked about turning Baltimore’s vacant homes from eyesores into assets and explained why the unrest of April 2015 wouldn’t have happened under his watch. Read the full interview for more about Harris and his take on these and other significant issues facing Baltimore City:
Sheila Dixon has one qualification that her opponents in the Baltimore mayoral race don’t: She’s already done the job. From 2007-2010, Dixon served as the city’s first female mayor. Two years into her term, she was indicted for fraud committed while in office. That case ended with her acquitted on the most serious counts of theft and misconduct while in office, but found guilty for misappropriating gift cards that were intended for poor residents. But after resigning as mayor as part of her plea agreement, Dixon continued to be involved in the city–and last year, she made it clear that she wanted her old job back.
In this crowded field, Dixon, 61, faces the unique challenge of building on her past expertise while also distancing herself from her past mistakes. We spoke with her about what she’s learned in recent years–and how she would govern the city, if given the chance to do so again:
Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.
Never let a moment pass when you’re not using the talents God gave you to make a difference in the lives of others.
When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?
I’m my best self when I’m active and doing something positive in the community. I have high expectations for myself, my family and the city of Baltimore, as my children Jasmine and Joshua would tell you. Even back when I was a teacher, I saw talented students who were being held back so I would sneak them into a higher-level class so they could be challenged.
Though a native of Pennsylvania, state Sen. Catherine Pugh has been living in Baltimore since 1969, and she’s long since made her mark on the community. She founded Baltimore’s first African American business newspaper in 1979. As a city councilwoman, she pounded the pavement for the first Baltimore Marathon in 2001. As a delegate and state senator she has championed minimum wage increases and marriage equality.
When Pugh ran for mayor of Baltimore last election cycle, she advocated community-oriented policing, lead poisoning awareness, “community-driven” development, and greater recreational opportunities for Baltimore’s youth. She argued for an holistic approach to combating violent crime, police brutality, and inequality in the city. Since then, Baltimore’s (as well as other cities’) struggles with those issues have made them central topics in the national political conversation.
With Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s decision not to seek re-election, Pugh may have a greater opportunity to make her case to the electorate this time. The candidate recently answered our questions about her current bid to lead the city and how she will distinguish herself in a crowded Democratic primary.
Baltimore Fishbowl: Have you seen the public come around to your point of view on the importance of addressing lead poisoning, community-police relations, and community-driven development in the past five years?
Patrick Gutierrez on His Run for Mayor of Baltimore, How He Would’ve Handled Unrest, and His Stint as a Sportswriter
Patrick Gutierrez has been a bank manager, a sports writer, and a stay-at-home dad. Now he’s hoping to start a new career as Mayor of the City of Baltimore. Gutierrez grew up in the small desert town of Indio, California, about two hours east of Los Angeles and seemingly a world away from Baltimore, but he says the two areas share a similarity he values highly: community connectedness. If the Democrat is chosen to serve as Mayor of Baltimore, he promises leadership driven by accountability, transparency, and a genuine desire to serve.
We caught up with Gutierrez on the campaign trail to learn more about his background, his preparedness to serve the residents of Baltimore and his plans to improve his adopted city, including quelling violence, tackling substance abuse, and other tough challenges.
How did you make your way here and where in Baltimore do you live now?
Nick Mosby Addresses His Vision for Baltimore, His Wife’s Job, and Where He Takes His Daughters for Red Velvet Pancakes
Virtually every Baltimore politician was interviewed by a national TV reporter on the night of April 27 and the week that followed, but an exchange between City Councilman Nick Mosby and Fox News’ Leland Vittert managed to rise above the din. Standing on a West Baltimore street corner, Mosby put the rioting and looting that defined the night into context.