Baltimore mayoral race: What should we ask the candidates?

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has no free shot in her attempt to win election to a post she inherited less than 18 months ago. She faces five challengers in the Democratic primary, including three current officeholders, a one-time chief of staff to Ms. Rawlings-Blake's predecessor and a community activist. They are pressing for changes in how the city handles taxes, public safety, education, economic development and more.

City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young, who, like Ms. Rawlings-Blake, was elevated to his job after Mayor Sheila Dixon resigned last year, is running in a citywide election for the first time. His challengers are not yet well known to much of the city, with the possible exception of former Senator Theatre owner Tom Kiefaber, who decided to run for office after disrupting a council meeting with a tirade about the secret influence of behind-the-scenes power brokers. The race promises to be as entertaining as anything he had on the big screen in his former life.

And there are no fewer than 63 people running for the 14 seats on the City Council. Only two incumbents — William H. Cole IV and Mary Pat Clarke — are running unopposed, and some of the races already present intriguing questions. Councilwoman Helen Holton will face the voters for the first time since she pleaded no contest to a campaign finance violation and was stripped of her committee chairmanship. And Councilman Pete Welch will stand for election for the first time since the council's controversial decision to appoint him to replace his mother, longtime Councilwoman Agnes Welch. Councilman Carl Stokes also faces an interesting fight. For months, he indicated that he planned to challenge Ms. Rawlings-Blake, but instead, he chose to seek to retain his council seat. In the meantime, seven people filed to run in his district.

In August, The Sun will co-sponsor debates for mayor and council president with the League of Women Voters and WYPR-FM, and before the September primary, we plan to make endorsements in those races and the races for seats on the council. To inform those efforts, we will be sending questionnaires to all of the candidates this month to seek their positions on issues crucial to the city.

That's where you come in. We're seeking readers' suggestions for what questions to ask the candidates. Click the comment button on this article to submit your ideas or send an email to We're looking both for questions that are general to everyone running for city office and for questions specific to particular offices or council districts. When they're completed, we'll post all of the candidates' responses on our website so you can judge for yourself how well they answered your questions.

Correction: An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated the disposition of the campaign finance law charges against Councilwoman Helen Holton. She pleaded no contest.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad