City Councilman Nick J. Mosby is joining the race to be Baltimore's next mayor, saying he can bridge the disconnect between the city's boardrooms and its street corners.
Mosby, 36, a first-term council member from Reservoir Hill, says his upbringing by a struggling single mother and work experience for two major companies make him uniquely qualified for the job.
"I'm able to go into a boardroom, look at a problem, articulate a message and develop and execute a plan," he said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun. "But my uniqueness is, I can also go on any street corner and do the same thing. We need that type of transformative leader to connect those dots."
Mosby, the husband of Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, plans to announce his candidacy Sunday afternoon. He will join a crowded field competing to replace Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who is not running for re-election.
Candidates include former Mayor Sheila Dixon, state Sen. Catherine Pugh and City Councilman Carl Stokes. All, like Mosby, are Democrats. The Democratic primary, a contest that for decades has decided Baltimore's mayors, is April 26.
On the City Council, Mosby was the chief sponsor of the "Ban the Box" law barring city employers from asking about an applicant's criminal record early in the hiring process. He also sponsored a law prohibiting minors from entering liquor stores. With his wife, he has led dozens of Enough is Enough anti-violence walks in West Baltimore.
Daniel Schlozman, an assistant professor of political science at the Johns Hopkins University, said Mosby will be a competitive candidate with as good a chance of winning as any of the other top-tier competitors.
"He's a familiar face in the neighborhood with no citywide experience and no executive experience," Schlozman said. While some critics could point to Mosby's youth and limited elective experience as a weakness, Schlozman said, he can brand himself as having a fresh perspective and the ability to succeed where others have failed.
"Mosby has every possibility of being a breakout candidate, but we don't know that yet," Schlozman said.
But Farajii Muhammad, co-host of former state Sen. Larry Young's talk-radio show, faulted Mosby's decision, saying the councilman should work on problems in his West Baltimore district before running for mayor. Muhammad mentioned sexual harassment allegations at the Gilmor Homes and water service problems at the Lakeview Towers as issues in need of immediate attention.
"Look at everything that's happening right now," Muhammad said. "I would think it would be in his best interest to address those needs first before he steps out and runs for mayor."
Mosby recently left his position as a senior project manager at Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. to become a full-time City Council member. While employed by the utility he helped develop policies and procedures. He previously worked for Verizon as a network engineer and later managed the development of multimillion-dollar data centers.
From that experience, Mosby said, he understands it is "critically important" for the city to hire certified project managers to oversee large projects and ensure that they are finished on time and on budget.
Mosby said he also wants to strengthen the city's CitiStat agency, connect more kids to early childhood education and bolster the reading skills of students. He said he would strengthen the civilian review board to improve police-community relations and equip all patrol officers with body cameras within 100 days of taking office.
"The city is really at a crossroads, and it's critically important that we have a candidate who has the energy, who is going to bring new ideas, who is really going to be committed to new opportunities for all Baltimoreans," he said. "I've seen the best and worst of the city."
Mosby, a 1997 graduate of Polytechnic Institute, was raised by a single mother in the Northwood neighborhood. He says he lived in a house with six women and shared a room with his mother until he was in eighth grade. He would see her wake up at 4:30 a.m. to catch two buses to get to work.
He studied electrical engineering at Tuskegee University in Alabama, where he met his future wife. The couple, who have two young daughters, moved to Reservoir Hill 11 years ago.
He declined to say how much money he has raised but said his fundraising efforts are going "really well." His most recent campaign filing from January showed he had just $2,000 in his campaign account.
Mosby said he sees no potential conflicts should he become mayor while being married to the city's top prosecutor.
"At the end of the day, we're accountable to the residents of Baltimore because we have to be elected," Mosby said. "It's about job performance."
He expects to hear questions about their positions but predicts that the inquiries will come from other candidates.
"When I talk to voters, they're not concerned," he said. "People are eager for me to get in this race."
A spokeswoman for Marilyn Mosby's office declined to comment.
Others who have said that they are considering a run for mayor include City Councilman Brandon Scott; William H. Cole IV, president of the Baltimore Development Corp.; businessman David L. Warnock; and Elizabeth Embry, criminal division chief for the Maryland attorney general's office and daughter of Abell Foundation President Robert C. Embry Jr.
Other Democrats who have filed are Richard Black, Mack Clifton, Mike Maraziti and Calvin Allen Young III.