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City Councilman Carl Stokes filed this evening to run for his current 12th District seat, after months of saying he planned to run for mayor.

"There are too many people in the race," said Stokes. "The message gets muddled."

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As Stokes told The Baltimore Sun earlier today, he does not support Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and he feels that by stepping back, he can give other candidates a chance.

Stokes said that he decided to run for his council seat because supporters have told him he is one of the few independent voices in the legislative body.

"My experience is important on the council. I'm hoping we can become a more independent council," he said.

Stokes' decision throws a wrench into the other candidates' plans -- many of which he had encouraged to run for office. The 12th District had been one of only two council seats without an incumbent candidate; there are currently more candidates in that seat than any other.

The other candidates include community activist Odette Ramos, Mt. Vernon-

Belvedere Association president Jason Curtis, Robert Stokes, a staffer for Carl Stokes (and no relation, De'Von Brown, a senior at Maryland Institute College of Art who was featured in The Boys of Baraka documentary, Jermaine Jones, whose family is rehabbing dozens of homes in Oliver, and longtime community leaders Ertha Harris and Frank Richardson.

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