Sarbanes makes TV ad debut

Michael Sarbanes, a longtime civic activist and son of retired U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, airs the first television commercial of this year's City Council president race today, focusing on his family, background and goals.

The 30-second spot ad will be aired on all local network affiliates through the Sept. 11 Democratic primary, according to the campaign, with additional spots to be added.


What the ad says: The ad begins with Sarbanes, his wife and their three children standing in front of their Irvington home. "This is my family and my home," Sarbanes says.

"Every block in our city should be safe for people to raise a family," he says, as the camera pans to a close-up of him.


Sarbanes is shown talking to a group of people. "As director of Maryland Crime Control and Prevention, we shut down drug houses and reclaimed neighborhoods," Sarbanes says, pointing out government experience working with Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

In a shot showing him talking to police officers, he says "As City Council president, I'll fight to put more police in our neighborhoods, who know our neighborhoods." Text on the screen reminds voters that he was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police.

Sarbanes mentions his vision of bringing "our communities, churches and city resources together to bring back our streets."

"A better Baltimore starts block by block," he says, as the camera cuts to him sitting on a sidewalk with a group of children. "And together we can make that happen."

A male narrator says: "Michael Sarbanes, new leadership for Baltimore."

The facts: There isn't much to fact-check here because the ad is essentially introductory. Sarbanes mentions his position as director of the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, in which, he says, he shut down drug houses and reclaimed neighborhoods. That work was accomplished through the HotSpots crime-reduction program. Though Sarbanes and Townsend have hailed the program as a success, it was not without its critics. Gov. Martin O'Malley, then mayor, frequently criticized it, calling it a "narrowly crafted program" with "marginal results."

Analysis: This is a clear, upbeat biographical ad for Sarbanes, a good introduction for voters who are first learning about him as he is making his first run for office. He quickly introduces himself, makes clear his government experience and focuses on crime and community building, the centerpieces of his campaign agenda. He makes no mention of his opponents, including the incumbent, City Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake.

His father, the retired senator, is not referred to subtly or directly. It will be interesting to see whether he brings in his father or his brother, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, in later commercials. His brother used his father in two ads last year.