Brandon Scott announces 2020 mayoral run

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Photo via Councilman Brandon Scott/Facebook

After months of speculation by city residents and media, Council President Brandon Scott officially announced his mayoral run on Friday morning.

Flanked by supporters at an announcement in Park Heights, where he grew up, Scott, 35, said the city “needs a transformational leader to lead us from the ashes of 2015 to the rebirth of a greater Baltimore.”

“It will not be easy. This transformational leader must understand Baltimore and its government from top to bottom, inside and out. That leader must be prepared to look at the city with a constructively critical eye to bring peace to our streets, increase accountability and improve services.”

And Scott proclaimed that he is that leader. “I am a son of Baltimore, and today I am announcing my candidacy to be the next mayor of Baltimore.”

Scott has been mulling a run for the city’s top elected office even before he was unanimously sworn in for his current job in May. He began teasing the move on social media Thursday, releasing a three-minute video on his “Baltimore story.”

At the podium this morning, Scott said Baltimore “is hurting, and it is at its most critical crossroads in generations.”

“This city provided my family with the opportunity to raise me, my brothers, my cousins into the people we are today. But with too many of our friends, our classmates, and our neighbors, this is not the case. Far too many of them are no longer with us and far too many of them are struggling to survive.”

Erricka Bridgeford, the co-founder of the grassroots Baltimore Ceasefire movement, was among the supporters at his campaign kickoff today.

“I have seen Brandon’s commitment to our youth, I have seen him not just put his words in action, but I have seen him put his body on the front line,” she said during an introduction. “I have seen him really engaging with you, I have seen that when things get really hard, he is thinking through, what are the most peaceful strategies that we should be using right now?”

Scott has served on the Baltimore City Council since 2011. He was elevated to his current role in the spring when he took over from Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who became mayor in a political shuffling following Catherine Pugh’s resignation.

Before that, he represented the 2nd District encompassing neighborhoods in Northeast Baltimore for two terms. He made a name for himself as chair of the Public Safety Committee, calling out officials on crime rates and police misconduct and pushing for more community-focused policing strategies.

Before his election to the council at age 27–as The Sun recounted in a profile last month–Scott worked for then-Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, acting as her representative in Northeast Baltimore neighborhoods. He went on to win a six-way primary for the open 2nd District seat in 2010.

A 2006 St. Mary’s College graduate, Scott jumped in on a gubernatorial ticket last year, joining local attorney Jim Shea as his would-be lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary. Shea ultimately lost to Ben Jealous, who was later defeated in the general election by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

Scott’s mayoral competition may include the current mayor himself. Young initially said he wouldn’t run for the post after he was appointed mayor in the spring, but changed his tune over the summer, telling reporters, “I’m keeping all options open, but I have to really talk with my family first.”

Young said in July the original arrangement he was banking on was for Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton to assume his old post as council president and keep staff largely the same to minimize any disruptions. But Scott’s successful push to be named council president by his colleagues–and his subsequent staffing changes in the council president’s office–threw a wrench in that plan, he said.

At the same press briefing, Young touted his record so far in office, including his administration’s handling of major water main breaks downtown and in West Baltimore (the latter which left residents without adequate water service for more than a week) and overcoming the ransomware crisis, in which Young refused to pay hackers who had taken city servers and networks hostage.

“Everything that could have happened when I became mayor has happened, and I’m getting it done,” he said at City Hall. “Me and my staff have navigated and had workarounds for just about everything that has happened in the city.”

Young is better-positioned in terms of campaign cash at this point, with about $600,000 on hand as of January, the latest campaign finance filing deadline. Scott had just over $145,000.

Other declared Democratic mayoral challengers in heavily blue Baltimore include Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah, activist Carmichael “Stokey” Cannady, Hampden resident Will Bauer (known also as Lou Catelli and the unofficial “mayor of Hampden”), Lynn Sherwood Harris, Dante Swinton, Frederick Ware-Newsome and Ralph Johnson II.

There are also several Republican candidates, including Catalina Byrd, Shannon Wright and William Herd.

Still said to be considering runs are former mayor Sheila Dixon, 46th District state Sen. Bill Ferguson, 43rd District Sen. Mary Washington, 40th District Del. Nick Mosby and ex-Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith. Jealous was rumored to be weighing a run but ruled himself out last week.

At his announcement, Scott said he’s heard pressure to sit out this race and wait his turn.

But, he said, “the truth is that I can’t wait. I can’t wait. I can’t wait because Baltimore can’t wait. Baltimore needs a leader who is willing to risk it all for the city.”

Ethan McLeod
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