In the process of interviewing 40-plus candidates for Baltimore City Council over the last month, I’ve been impressed with their knowledge of the districts they want to represent, their enthusiasm and their devotion to making this city a better place in the aftermath of last April’s unrest.
Smart, thoughtful, progressive, earnest, creative, committed, inexplicably in love with Baltimore -- those words describe the vast majority of candidates who came to the Sun to sit for a Roughly Speaking podcast interview. They are mostly 45 or younger, and mostly male. The one disappointment: Not enough women among the candidates.
Today’s podcast, however, features Shannon Sneed, an East Baltimore resident making her second bid for the 13th District seat held by Warren Branch. Branch was one of three council incumbents who never responded to our invitations to a Roughly Speaking interview. (Maybe they don’t understand the podcast thing.)
This year marks my 40th in Baltimore, and in that time I’ve seen eight municipal elections. I’ve never seen one with as many shiny-brights seeking office. What comes across is a strong desire to see the council become more of a force in improving the lives of Baltimoreans by making municipal government more responsive to neighborhoods and to businesses, and by addressing the city’s long-festering problems: crime, failing schools, mediocre public transportation, vacant houses.
By the time I wrap up the interviews next week, I will have interviewed 52 candidates in 14 councilmanic districts, as well as candidates for mayor, comptroller and U.S. Senate.
Note to non-Baltimore residents: If you’re interested in the city, you’ll find these interviews worth a listen. In addition to their personal stories, the candidates have real insights into urban life and trends, what the challenges are in different parts of their districts. Listen and you’re bound to learn something new about Baltimore and its people.
You can listen to those interviews starting today, with my conversations with Sneed and with Mike King, a candidate for comptroller.
Here’s the tentative schedule for the Election 2016 podcasts, district by district.
Wednesday April 6:
Donna Edwards, US Senate candidate
Thursday April 7:
City Council District 13
Baltimore City Comptroller
Friday April 8:
Chris Van Hollen, US Senate candidate
Monday April 11
City Council District 14
Tuesday April 12
City Council District 2
Wednesday April 13
Patrick Gutierrez, Democratic mayoral candidate; Allen Walden, Republican mayoral candidate