City Council president is the No. 2 position in Baltimore government, just one resignation away from mayor — not exactly an uncommon occurrence in this particular city. Two of the past three mayors have quit amid criminal inquiries, launching the council president into the top spot, at least temporarily.
Whoever wins the elected-at-large position, powerful in its own right, will chair the Board of Estimates, which develops and carries out the city’s fiscal policy, and preside over Baltimore’s 15-member legislative body. The City Council has the power to enact ordinances and resolutions, amend the city’s annual budget, confirm mayoral appointments, and appropriate and issue bonds. It acts as a check and balance to the mayor’s office, and its president must be mindful of that role while also working with the mayor to accomplish what’s best for Baltimore. Relationships, specifically the ability to bring people together and keep them focused, are critical components to the job.
With five open seats on the council, at least a third of its members will be new to the role post election. They’ll need a knowledgeable and approachable leader to set the agenda and guide decision making. Nick Mosby is best suited for the job; we endorse him as the next City Council president. His experience and connections suggest he can hit the ground running, which is especially important now, amid the economic and public health crises we face.
Mr. Mosby, 41, served on the City Council for five years, from 2011 to 2016, and as a delegate in the Maryland House since 2017. As an electrical engineer, the Democrat has managed multi-million dollar projects. And as a lawmaker, he’s pushed to pass legislation ensuring that water bills don’t cost residents their homes, that historically black colleges and universities are appropriately funded, and that campaign finance laws are fair. He particularly distinguished himself this year through repeated calls for the state to release racial data regarding coronavirus, which revealed disparities in the health outcomes and treatment of African Americans in relation to COVID-19 and forced Maryland to confront the issue.
This year’s council race is the first competitive contest in about a decade, and Mr. Mosby faces strong challengers. Shannon Sneed has proven herself a loyal, likable and responsive representative in District 13 over the past four years. District 7 Councilman Leon F. Pinkett III well understands the weaknesses in the council, particularly the lack of independent analysis, and offers some solid ideas to deal with them, including reallocating some resources from the president’s office to the full council. And former Councilman Carl Stokes, who also raised the issue of racial disparities amid the pandemic, has long been a fixture in Baltimore politics and carries strong name recognition with voters, in addition to experience in education as the founder of two charter schools and as a former city school board member.
Mr. Mosby, too, brings name recognition to the race, though some of it belongs to his wife, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Ms. Mosby is known on a national stage as the prosecutor willing to take on Baltimore police after Freddie Gray’s 2015 death and, more recently, through criminal justice reform efforts she’s undertaken, including refusing to prosecute marijuana possession cases, recognizing that such prosecutions disproportionately affect low-income people of color. Some in the community have raised concerns about a “power couple” dynamic that could result if Nick Mosby wins the council president seat, but we don’t believe you can hold back a person for the accomplishments of their spouse. We do, however, expect him to recuse himself from any decision that directly affects her agency, which receives roughly $36 million in city funds each year.
As council president, Mr. Mosby says his priorities will be safe streets, better schools, more jobs and improved health care. He intends to use data to drive decision making and leverage his relationships in Annapolis to the benefit of Baltimore. He has our endorsement.
The Baltimore Sun editorial board — made up of Opinion Editor Tricia Bishop, Deputy Editor Andrea K. McDaniels and writer Peter Jensen — offers opinions and analysis on news and issues relevant to readers. It is separate from the newsroom.
The Baltimore Sun editorial board, the opinion arm of the news organization, endorses political candidates to help voters make informed decisions at the ballot box — or, as is the case for most this year, the mailbox. We came to a consensus after analyzing candidate platforms and news coverage, and interviewing political experts and voters. Lastly, we interviewed the top candidates in the race individually. We then discussed each candidate’s pros and cons to make our decision. COMING TUESDAY: Baltimore Sun endorsements in open City Council races.