The upcoming primary election on June 2 is already one of the most unique elections in modern Baltimore history. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the statewide primary be moved from its original April 28 date and conducted by mail-in ballot.
If someone other than Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young wins the top job, he or she will inherit a government that may still have to deal with the spread of coronavirus and will absolutely have to deal with the pandemic’s effects on the local economy.
And, lest we forget, the mayor will run a city that is still grappling with the fallout from the “Healthy Holly” scandal that ousted former Mayor Catherine Pugh and face persistent problems such as violence, inequity and police reform.
There are 24 Democrats and seven Republicans listed on the ballot for mayor. Baltimore Fishbowl reached out to every campaign at the start of April using the email on file with the Maryland State Board of Elections and later called the phone number associated with the campaign on the board’s site.
We did not reach out the state Sen. Mary Washington because she suspended her campaign in March. And since we sent our questionnaire, at least two other candidates, Rikki Vaughn and Liri Fusha, also suspended their campaigns.
After more than a month, we received responses from 12 Democrats and one Republican, including Fusha, whose responses he have included below. We went a step further with the six candidates who have consistently led the Democratic field in the polls–former Mayor Sheila Dixon, former Treasury Department official Mary Miller, City Council President Brandon Scott, former Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith, former Deputy Attorney General of Maryland Thiru Vignarajah and Mayor Young–and conducted phone interviews.
Since 1967, the winner of the Democratic nomination in Baltimore, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 10-to-1, has gone on to win in the general. But as readers will see, many of the questions in our questionnaire and in the interviews are identical, allowing voters to compare all the candidates side by side.
A reminder: Ballots being submitted by mail must be postmarked by June 2. Voters can also put them in drop-off boxes at 15 locations across the city, one in each councilmanic district and outside the Baltimore City Board of Elections’ main office at 417 E. Fayette St. The boxes are available up until 8 p.m. on Election Day.
The city is also operating six in-person voting centers from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. on Election Day. (Brandon Weigel)