GHCC awards

Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry speaks at acouncil meeting in 2009. Henry presented Greater Homewood Community Corp. volunteer awards Nov. 9. Sharon Guida, a Charles Village activist, ws named Volunteer of the Year. (Algerina Perna/The Baltimore Sun / June 16, 2009)

Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry this week announced he plans to run for the state senate seat currently held by longtime senator Joan Carter Conway.

Henry, 45, who represents North Baltimore, said he is running in the 43rd senate district to be address to address "important issues" on the state level, including liquor regulation and school funding.

“I love the job I have now ... but I believe I can help even more in the State Senate," Henry said in a statement.

During his tenure on the City Council, Henry has gained a reputation as an active and independent voice. He's introduced legislation aimed at weakening Baltimore's "strong mayor" system of government, called on the state to cover costs from Maryland's tax bill errors, and opposed the $107 million in public financing for the waterfront Harbor Point development, arguing for a smaller incentive package. He's also backed legislation to limit Ticketmaster's so-called "convenience fees" and supported a billboard tax to help the city's budget.

Henry lives in the Radnor-Winston neighborhood with his wife Ruth and their two daughters, both of whom attend Baltimore City Public Schools.

Conway, a state senator since 1997, is the chair of the senate committee on Education, Health and Environmental Affairs.

She said Thursday she wasn't particularly concerned about Henry's challenge, and believes she has a strong record that is popular with Baltimore residents.

"Anyone who wants to run can run," she said. "You have to be careful and deliberate and you campaign."

Last legislative session, Conway played a key role in advocating for $1.1 billion in construction funding for Baltimore schools and led a last-minute charge to delay the implementation of the stormwater management fee, which critics deride as "the rain tax."

She said residents in her district remain "very disturbed and angry" about the fee.

"Not only do I work, I work hard," Conway said.  "My work has spoken well of the community." 

Luke.Broadwater@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/lukebroadwater