After winning the Democratic nomination for mayor, City Council President Brandon Scott thanked his supporters and staff and pledged to bring change to the city and how its government functions.
Speaking outside his family’s home in Park Heights on Wednesday afternoon, Scott said his campaign was focused on treating gun violence and drug overdoses as public health issues, and not shying away from Baltimore’s history of racial inequality and saying “we can erase it.”
“Our campaign was about proving to the world that a young black man who grew up in the forgotten Baltimore here in Park Heights could survive everything that you have to live through in Baltimore–the gun violence, underfunded schools, living in neighborhoods with vacant homes, living in areas where you know that you are not going to be recognized even as human by your own city government–that somebody could survive all of that to be the leader of this great city and serve as an example for the generations to come,” he said.
Scott pulled ahead by 2,358 votes on Tuesday night, and the number of ballots left to be counted is estimated to be less than 2,000.
Scott, 36, continued to build momentum after the first batch of results was released late in the evening of the June 2 primary election, showing former Mayor Sheila Dixon with an edge of more than 4,500 votes.
On Monday, Dixon raised concerns about how the election was carried out. The primary has been plagued with problems, including ballots with the wrong date, some people receiving their ballots late or not at all, and a printing error on some ballots in District 1 necessitated recreating and counting votes by hand.
In a statement, Dixon thanked supporters for “your votes, your prayers and your words of encouragement over the last few days.”
She also thanked the Board of Elections and said officials should complete their count of the ballots.
“Their work is very important and we should let them finish their job of counting every vote in this election,” she said. “Thank you again, Baltimore.”
During his press conference, Scott thanked Dixon for her dedication to the city and “for showing people that Baltimore believes in second chances,” a reference to Dixon’s resignation from office following corruption charges.
He also commended former Treasury Department official Mary Miller, former Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah, former Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith, activist Carlmichael “Stokey” Cannady and all the other candidates for running campaigns focused on the issues facing the city.
He singled out Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who inherited the top job at City Hall after Catherine Pugh resigned and immediately dealt with a cyberattack of the city’s online infrastructure, for his leadership at the helm of city government.
“His service to the City of Baltimore during this trying time has been very admirable, and we owe him a debt of gratitude,” Scott said. “Because we know Mayor Young each and every day wakes up, eats, sleeps, breathes and thinks Baltimore, and we should be eternally grateful for him, for his efforts.”
It appears Scott will face off against Republican Shannon Wright, a pastor and former vice president of the Yonkers NAACP, in the November general election.
Change is coming to two other powerful positions in city government. Del. Nick Mosby, who previously represented District 7 on the council, won the nomination for council president, the position Scott currently holds and was elevated to following the resignation of Pugh.
Republican Jovani M. Patterson, a cyber security engineer, ran unopposed for his party’s nomination and will run against Mosby in November.
Fourth District Councilman Bill Henry ousted six-term incumbent Joan Pratt in the comptroller’s race. The Republican Party did not field a nominee for that position.
Most of the Democratic nomination contests for the council look to be settled. Incumbents Zeke Cohen (District 1), Danielle McCray (District 2), Ryan Dorsey (District 3), Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer (District 5), Sharon Green Middleton (District 6), Kristerfer Burnett (District 8) and John T. Bullock (District 9) all have considerable leads. Eric Costello (District 11) ran unopposed.
In District 12, incumbent Robert Stokes Sr. surpassed his top challenger, attorney Phillip Westry, by only 303 votes.
And in the race to fill Henry’s District 4 seat, there are only 227 votes separating leader Mark Conway, a former deputy director of CitiStat, from Logan Endow, who has worked in Liberia to treat Ebola virus.
In Baltimore, Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 10-1 margin.
Scott said today he will have a conversation with Mayor Young and his team about a transition between administrations.
In true form, Scott said he found out he had enough votes to secure the nomination as he was questioning officials from the Department of Public Works during a budget hearing last night.
“It’s very exciting, but there’s a lot of work to do,” he said. “I don’t have time to celebrate.”
There’s still “too many people dying in Baltimore City” and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and in the immediate future, the council is tasked with delivering a budget to the mayor before the end of the month.
Even though he is poised to inherit the top job in City Hall, Scott reiterated his support for a reform package he and other council members pushed for to reduce the mayor’s power.
Young vetoed two charter amendments that would have made it easier for the council to override a mayoral veto, saying the process was flawed.
If a proposal can’t win the support of the council or a contract can’t get the approval of the Board of Estimates, those items should probably be reconsidered, Scott said.
“We have to build a better structure,” he said. “That was not just a campaign talking point for me–that’s the reality that we face in Baltimore, because again, going back to the way that we have been operating is not an option.”
Joining the national conversation about defunding the police following the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd, Scott said the council has for years called for reductions in the Baltimore Police Department’s budget.
“Over time, our police department’s budget is going to have to decrease so that we can increase funding to schools and health and Rec & Parks and other things,” he said. “We have to do that in a responsible manner.”
This story has been updated.