Thanks to our readers for a tremendous outpouring of nominations for the 2017 Marylander of the Year. We have narrowed the choice down to five top contenders who have all worked tirelessly to make this state a better place. Please tell us who you think is most deserving of the honor by voting here. The results will inform our decision, which we will announce on Dec. 31.
Erricka Bridgeford has long been engaged in the effort to break the cycle of violence through her work at the Community Mediation Center, but this year she captured Baltimore’s attention as a lead organizer and guiding spirit of the Baltimore Ceasefire movement. At a time when many are ready to despair that the city can ever stop the relentless pace of killings, Ms. Bridgeford has offered a reminder that our fate is in our own hands. The simple plea that “nobody kill anybody” for 72 hours might be easy for outsiders to lampoon if not for the profound sincerity Ms. Bridgeford and others brought to the effort. Can she single-handedly stop the killing? Perhaps not, but we know it won’t stop without the hope, love and passion she inspired in so many others.
Brian Frosh, the mild-mannered former state senator from Montgomery County has quietly gone about redefining the role of Maryland’s attorney general. He made headlines this year for persuading the General Assembly to give him the authority to sue the federal government without the governor’s permission, something he’s done to stick up for Marylanders’ interests on issues ranging from the environment to immigration. But he has also been deeply involved in crucial policy issues. He was a chief architect of Maryland’s new law to guard against price gouging by manufacturers of generic medicines — a practice that puts lives at risk. And he successfully fought back against efforts to undo changes he helped prompt in the state’s pretrial detention system, preserving the principle that people should not be detained before trial simply because they cannot afford bail.
Two of the last things Rod Rosenstein did as U.S. Attorney for Maryland were to announce indictments against Baltimore police officers accused of a wide-ranging corruption scheme in which they robbed city residents, planted evidence and defrauded taxpayers, and to charge a man in one of the city’s most outrageous unsolved killings, the 2014 murder of 3-year-old McKenzie Elliott. One of the first things he did after his confirmation as deputy attorney general was to author a memo President Donald Trump used as a pretext to fire FBI director James Comey. But those in Maryland who had come to appreciate his integrity and professionalism during his long tenure here were not surprised by what came next — his decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate possible ties between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
Sonja Sohn and Devin Allen
After all the negative attention Baltimore has received since the 2015 riots, we recognize two artists who were able this year to grapple with the city’s seemingly intractable problems without losing sight of its beauty and spirit. Sonja Sohn, who is best known for her role on The Wire, directed the HBO documentary “Baltimore Rising,” which offers both an unflinching look at the social conditions that led to the unrest and a hopeful portrait of the young leaders who are dedicating their lives to changing them. Devin Allen, the amateur photographer whose image of an African-American man running from advancing police officers during the riots made the cover of Time magazine, published the book “A Beautiful Ghetto,” a title and a work that force readers to acknowledge the humanity of communities that are too often ignored.
The latest in a line of superstar Baltimore health commissioners, Leana Wen emerged this year as a true national leader in the battle against opioid overdose deaths. She has pursued innovative strategies here, from expanding the availability of the anti-overdose medication narcan to using data to pinpoint dangerous drugs on the streets and text messaging to warn potential victims. But she has become an influential advocate for evidence based public health approaches to combating the epidemic, sharing a stage with the likes of Bill Clinton to get the message out. Meanwhile, Dr. Wen worked to stem a rise in infant deaths, reduce lead poisoning and fight efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Become a subscriber today to support editorial writing like this. Start getting full access to our signature journalism for just 99 cents for the first four weeks.