Baltimore City voters passed all of the local questions on their ballots this election, from local control of the Baltimore City Police Department to term limits for elected officials and more.
Here’s what the passage of those ballot questions mean for Baltimore:
These questions pertain to the city securing loans for $14 million for affordable housing; $38 million for construction and repairs of schools buildings and facilities; $36 million for addressing blight, job growth, and other community and economic development; and $72 million for streets, bridges, courthouses, libraries, parks, and other public infrastructure.
The $36 million from Question C would help address some of the more than 10,000 vacant homes across Baltimore, which the city government and community partners are tending to through repairs, demolition, construction, and homebuyer incentive programs.
Meanwhile, the $38 million from Question B could help make improvements to school buildings, nearly two dozen of which had to dismiss students early during the first week of the school year due to lack of working air conditioning.
Residents voted to prohibit the privatization of Baltimore’s underground conduit system, which includes cables and wires that provide electric, phone, and internet services across the city.
Mayor Brandon Scott sought approval of a $50,000 contract for consultant FMI Capital Investors Inc. to explore options for earning money from the conduit system. But City Council President Nick Mosby delayed the city spending panel’s vote on that contract in October to allow voters to have their say on the issue of selling, transferring or franchising the system.
Voters approved a fund to supplement existing funding for rewards offered by the Baltimore Police Department or nonprofit organizations for information to help apprehend, arrest, and convict individuals suspected of committing crimes.
The Dante Barksdale Career Technology Apprenticeship Fund will support pre-apprenticeship and workforce development programs at Baltimore public secondary schools and community colleges.
The fund is named in honor of Dante Barksdale, an outreach coordinator for Baltimore’s Safe Streets violence prevention program, who was fatally shot in January 2021. Barksdale served on a transition committee for public health and public safety for then-Mayor-elect Brandon Scott.
Baltimore City is the only jurisdiction in Maryland that does not have local control over its police department – but that will change with the passage of this charter amendment. The state of Maryland took control of the Baltimore City Police Department in 1860 amid political fighting, and the department has remained under state control for more than a century and a half. While the mayor of Baltimore already had the authority to appoint a police commissioner, the amendment’s passage will give the City Council the ability to regulate the department.
Elected officials, candidates, and lobbyists will no longer be able to serve on the advisory board that appoints and removes Baltimore’s inspector general. Instead, the 11-member board will comprise seven members chosen at random from a list of nominees developed by City Council members; two members who are heads of local law schools; one member from a certified public accountants group; and one member from a fraud examiners group.
The inspector general investigates alleged misconduct by Baltimore City employees and contractors and reports on institutional issues, inconsistencies, and gaps.
The current advisory board comprises appointees by the mayor, comptroller and city council president, including City Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton and City Council Member Eric Costello.
Voters approved the establishment of a Department of Accounts Payable, which will control all payments by Baltimore City other than salaries. The Baltimore City Comptroller will supervise this new department and will appoint a director to lead it.
Baltimore City’s mayor, comptroller, City Council president, and City Council members will not be able to hold office for more than eight years — two four-year terms — during any 12-year period under the charter amendment that voters passed. Candidates who are elected to fill a vacancy can hold the office for the remainder of their predecessor’s term and be elected for one consecutive full term after that. The amendment will go into effect for officials elected during Baltimore’s 2024 election.
David Smith, chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group, the parent company of Fox 45 in Baltimore, spent $525,000 in support of the ballot question.
Proponents asserted that term limits would keep city leadership fresh and prevent officials from holding onto their seats based on their incumbent status.
But opponents argued that city voters can already vote out officials whom they do not approve. They pointed to Baltimore’s elections in 2020 and 2022 in which voters chose a new mayor, comptroller, and state’s attorney over the incumbents.
Opponents also said by limiting the number of terms an official can serve, the city would lose institutional knowledge that can come with serving several terms.