If anyone doubted Democratic mayoral candidate Jody Landers’ Baltimore bona fides–HARBEL executive director, City Council member, executive vice-president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors–then his recent experience as a victim of both crime and bureaucratic lassitude should cement his credentials.
A week before Landers announced his bid to lead the city this past April, some brazen perp stole his car (waiting outside) as he paid for its repairs inside an auto shop’s office. Hearing nothing from the city concerning his vehicle’s whereabouts for six weeks, Landers traced it himself to a municipal impound lot, where it had been languishing for 12 days. (Factotums there had failed to notify him of the car’s presence.) Insult to injury, Landers also learned that he was on the hook for tickets racked up by the thief: $75 for running a red light, $52 for parking.
Raised in Hamilton, Joseph T. “Jody” Landers III, 58, has ping-ponged among posts in government, business, and civic/charitable affairs, while earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Morgan University in 1990. After working as an outreach counselor for Northeast Baltimore’s HARBEL Community Organization, he took over as the group’s executive director in 1977, overseeing programs in drug abuse prevention, mental health care, and youth employment training, among others.
Landers represented the 3rd District on the City Council from 1983 to 1991, establishing a reputation for fiscal responsibility, and, after losing a bid to become city Comptroller, served as executive director of the non-profit PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs and as director of fiscal affairs in the office of the City Council president. Until stepping down last month, Landers had led the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors for 13 years.
The father of three adult children, Landers lives with his wife in Lauraville.
Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.
Be kind, do good work, and always remember that love is the most powerful force in the universe.
When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?
When I was a teenager, my father introduced me to the writings of the ancient Greek philosophers. As Socrates admonished his students to “know thyself,” I have been on a life-long quest to do just that. My mother always counseled her eight children to “play nice together and to follow our hearts,” and I have endeavored to follow her advice throughout my life. Lastly, I approach everything in life with the knowledge that we are all connected and we need each other.
What is the best advice you ever got that you followed?
To treat others with respect and kindness, and to remember to floss and brush my teeth every day.
The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it?
To stay away from politics and to move out of the city. No! I did not follow this advice.
What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime?
1. What we see depends mainly on what we are looking for.
2. That the act of forgiving is as important for the person forgiving as it is for the person being forgiven.
3. That my attitude and expectations are just as important as the facts.
What is the best moment of the day?
The present moment.
What is on your bedside table?
I don’t have a bedside table. I put all my stuff on my bureau.
What is your favorite local charity?
Two: Viva House and Habitat for Humanity.
What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing?
Think big and have a grand vision, but be prepared to take small steps and keep trying until you get it right.
Why are you successful?
Because I realize that my success hinges on others being successful also.
When out-of-town friends visit Baltimore, what one indispensable local activity–attraction, restaurant, historic site, etc.–do you insist they see or hear or participate in before leaving?
We are most likely to take guests hiking at one of the many parks and reservoir properties that are in the city or in the Baltimore region.
Did you bowl duckpins as a kid growing up here? If so, were you in a league? What was your “home” lanes?
Yes, I did bowl duckpins. My very first duckpin bowling experience was in the basement of the Hamilton Recreation Center, where bowlers would have to take turns setting the pins. I was amazed the first time I saw an automated pin-setting machine. I was never in a league, but one of my younger sisters has been in a league for the past 15 to 20 years.
If elected mayor, what item will be foremost on your agenda–the specific initiative you immediately strive to accomplish?
I would take the lead in demonstrating to Baltimore citizens and city employees that public service means what it says, and that each and every person has an important role to play in making Baltimore better.
This is the first in a series of Baltimore Fishbowl interviews with Baltimore’s mayoral candidates.