Baltimore mayoral candidates court students at Mervo forum

Several candidates for Baltimore City mayor participate in a forum at Mervo High School which has been organized by students at the school. (Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun video)

Some of Baltimore's leading mayoral candidates fielded questions Wednesday from potential constituents — many of whom can't yet vote.

City Councilmen Carl Stokes and Nick Mosby, businessman and philanthropist David Warnock, engineer Calvin Young and Green Party candidate Emanuel McCray faced off in a forum at Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School.


Baltimore's high-schoolers, it turns out, share some of the same concerns as the rest of the city's residents: struggling schools, unemployment and crime.

The candidates took pains to tailor their speeches to the students.


All five promised to pump more money into infrastructure to ensure all schools have adequate heating and air conditioning.

Stokes pledged he would rip out all the lead pipes in schools within the first two years of his administration.

Mosby emphasized his roots in Northeast Baltimore.

"I remember sitting in those seats," he said.

Stokes and Warnock each said they had helped establish schools in the city, as examples of their priorities.

Young said that if elected, school building improvements would be an "obvious thing that happens immediately."

McCray described himself as an ordinary citizen running for office. He encouraged students to research the candidates.

Each candidate laid out plans for adding jobs, making neighborhoods safer and improving relations between the police and the community.

"You are the most important people in Baltimore," Warnock told the students. "I want you to stay in this great city, work in this great city."

Young said his sister is the volleyball coach at Mervo. He urged students to ask about his qualifications or personality.

Mosby, who enjoyed some of the loudest applause from the auditorium, even did the "dab" celebration dance popularized by NFL quarterback Cam Newton.

Craig Minor, 18, a Mervo junior studying criminal and civil law, moderated the hourlong event. He said he was pleased with the candidates' turnout and satisfied with their answers to the questions he and his fellow students had compiled.


"It was a great honor to have them be able to address our concerns," Minor said.

Nick McDaniels, a law and leadership teacher who helped organize the event, said it was "fantastic."

Just because they aren't all of voting age doesn't mean they aren't aware of the city's many problems, McDaniels said. He said the forum was a chance for them to voice those concerns and hear the candidates' plans to address them.

"That's really what we were hoping to get out of this," he said, "that students would feel engaged and connected."

It didn't go unnoticed by the candidates that many of those in school uniforms in the audience won't be able to cast a ballot for them in the election.

"If you can't vote," Mosby said, "ask your parents to."


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