Baltimore voters elect eight new City Council members

Election seats eight new City Council members, who are expected to bring liberal agenda to Baltimore.

When the new Baltimore City Council convenes Dec. 8, more than half its members will take seats in the chamber for the first time. The newcomers are pledging to push a more liberal agenda than their predecessors, including increasing the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The eight novices elected Tuesday — Zeke Cohen in the 1st District, Ryan Dorsey in the 3rd District, Isaac "Yitzy" Schleifer in the 5th District, Leon F. Pinkett III in the 7th District, Kristerfer Burnett in the 8th District, John T. Bullock in the 9th District, Robert Stokes Sr. in the 12th District and Shannon Sneed in the 13th District — replace veteran members with decades of experience.

Cohen and Stokes fended off vigorous challenges by Republican Matt McDaniel and Green Party candidate Ian Schlakman, respectively, to keep the 15 council seats entirely in the hands of Democrats, who have won every council seat since 1942.

"You're going to lose some veterans with a lot of knowledge of the city, but you're going to gain a lot of energy and new perspectives," said Roger E. Hartley, dean of the University of Baltimore's College of Public Affairs.

"It's not going to be the same government. This is going to be a new government with new interests and new demands."

City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young, 62, and Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, 64, easily defeated challengers to remain in office.

The election marks the biggest turnover on the council since 2003. More than a combined century of experience is leaving City Hall.

Retiring are longtime members Rochelle "Rikki" Spector, elected in 1977, and Robert W. Curran and Helen L. Holton, both elected in 1995.

Councilmen Carl Stokes and Nick J. Mosby pursued bids for mayor instead of re-election. Councilman James B. Kraft sought a Circuit Court judgeship, but later withdrew.

Incumbents William "Pete" Welch and Warren M. Branch lost their seats to Democratic challengers in the primary.

The incoming members — in many cases a generation younger than their predecessors — rallied together in the months since the April primary, pledging to bring a new energy to the council and a more progressive approach to governing.

District 1: Cohen, 31, an educator and founder of a nonprofit that prepares students for college, said he will focus on transit, affordable housing, higher wages and jobs for youths. He defeated McDaniel by more than 30 percentage points.

"There is a growing recognition across the city that citizens want to see a city government that works together to solve problems, and one that deals with some of the systemic inequities that have plagued our city," Cohen said.

Popular Republican Gov. Larry Hogan — who despite losing in the city two years ago carried the 1st District — campaigned with McDaniel, 28, in Fells Point last week. Outside one of the busiest precincts in the district, McDaniel propped up a larger-than-life photo of him and the governor, asking residents to "vote team Hogan."

A Republican has not won office in Baltimore since Theodore R. McKeldin was elected mayor in 1963. Democrats have held each of the council seats for even longer; the last Republican on the council was elected was in 1942.

McDaniel acknowledged his campaign faced long odds: "We knew from the beginning we were swinging for the fences. I wish Mr. Cohen well."

He told a couple of dozen supporters at a gathering in Canton that they were “tremendously successful in getting voters energized,” and thanked them for their enthusiastic backing.

At Cohen’s election night party, he focused on a need to unite the city.

“Our city is filled with people whose fundamental decency speaks louder than their ideology,” Cohen said. “Today we proved that that which unites us is stronger than what divides.”

Kraft, 67, represented the district that includes Fells Point, Canton, Highlandtown and Patterson Park for more than a decade.

District 2: Councilman Brandon M. Scott, 32, toppled his Republican challenger Gregory Yarberough. Scott, who had been the youngest person on the council, was first elected in 2011.

District 3: Dorsey, 34, will replace Curran, 66, after easily defeating Green Party candidate G. Andreas Spiliadis.

District 4: Councilman Bill Henry won re-election over Republican William "Sam" Broaddus III. Henry, 48, has represented the North Baltimore district since 2007.

District 5: Schleifer, 27, a business owner, will replace Spector, 80, in the Northwest Baltimore district.

District 6: Councilwoman Sharon Green Middleton, 62, won re-election to serve the North and Northwest Baltimore district. A former high school teacher and administrator, Middleton was appointed to the seat in 2007. She beat Green Party candidate Richard Thomas White Jr.

District 7: In this West Baltimore district, Pinkett, 49, who has worked as an assistant deputy mayor, will succeed Mosby, 37. Pinkett beat Republican challenger Tamara Purnell.

District 8: In the West Baltimore district, Burnett, 30, handily won election over Republican Joseph Brown Jr.

District 9: Bullock, 38, won the Southwest Baltimore district over Republican Kenneth Earl Ebron Jr. and Green Party nominee Jamie Latear Frierson. Bullock ousted Welch, 63, in April. He is a Towson University political science professor.

District 10: Council Vice President Edward Reisinger, 66, won another term representing the South Baltimore district. He will be among the most senior council members, with more than 20 years in elected office. He defeated Republican challenger Christine Digman and Green Party nominee Amanda Maminski.

District 11: Councilman Eric T. Costello, 35, faced no general election challenger. A former federal government auditor, Costello was appointed to the council in 2014 and beat four challengers in the Democratic primary.

District 12: Robert Stokes, 58, topped Schlakman in the East Baltimore district. He will replace outgoing Councilman Carl Stokes, 66. Robert Stokes is Carl Stokes' legislative aide. The two are not related.

District 13: Sneed, 35, defeated Republican George Johnson. Sneed is a former broadcast journalist who works for a nonprofit. She ousted Branch, 55, in the primary.

District 14: Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, 75, sailed to re-election over unaffiliated challenger David Harding in North Baltimore.

Julie Depenbrock and Helen Parshall contributed to this article.

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