City Council endorsements: Districts 6-11

The Sun makes the following endorsements for Baltimore City Council in districts 6-11:

District 6


The 6th District covers a wide variety of communities in north and northwest Baltimore, ranging from Roland Park to Park Heights. Its residents are as diverse in all senses of the word as those in any district in the city, and it's a challenge for a councilman to meet all their needs. Sharon Green Middleton, 61, who has represented the district since 2007, faces two other candidates this year, Mark E. Hughes, 43, and Timothy Mercer, 61. Ms. Middleton remains the best choice and has our endorsement.

Mr. Hughes has a strong background as a community organizer, a career that has given him experience in education, crime prevention, jobs programs and support for ex-offenders. He bases much of his campaign on the contention that he would be a more visible councilman and more attuned to constituent service than the incumbent.


But Ms. Middleton can point to a number of advances in her district in recent years, including new or redeveloped apartment complexes, senior housing and a supermarket. She points to the preservation of all the district's recreation centers as a major accomplishment and is looking to expand the successful Park Heights Safe Streets program into other communities. Ms. Middleton would almost certainly be among the most senior members of the council if she is re-elected, so she would be poised to secure even more resources for her constituents.

District 7

Councilman Nick Mosby's decision to run for mayor rather than re-election prompted a scramble of excellent candidates seeking to replace him. The district encompasses many of the areas hit hardest by last year's unrest, and the candidates are appropriately focused on finding ways to boost economic opportunity for residents there. Voters face a tough choice among familiar faces and names — including Marshall Bell, the brother of former City Council President Lawrence Bell — and newcomers like Westley West, a pastor who rose to prominence during the protests following Freddie Gray's death.

Former Shawn Tarrant, 50, is the only one to have held elective office before, having served two terms in the House of Delegates. He has a significant history of community involvement and has the endorsement of Councilman Mosby along with some labor unions. He says his work in Annapolis will help him to win support for initiatives in the 7th District and to help guide the state's new investment in demolishing derelict houses. He is focused on bringing more businesses — particularly supermarkets — to the district.

An intriguing dark horse contender is Kerry J. Davidson, 47, a Stanford- and Harvard-educated lawyer who is exactly the kind of person Baltimore needs to attract. Pushed out of the Washington area by high housing prices, he found and fell in love with a former drug house that he bought and set about fixing up. He's also the kind of person Baltimore too often seems intent on driving out through sheer, maddening bureaucratic frustration. His own experiences in trying to navigate City Hall give him a keen sense of how user-unfriendly Baltimore can be, and he would bring to the council a zeal for making sure the city gets out of the way of the many people who are trying to make the city better.

But our endorsement goes to Leon F. Pinkett III. Many Baltimoreans express frustration that the city's economic development efforts are too focused on the harbor, but Mr. Pinkett, 48, of Reservoir Hill, has actual experience in using Baltimore's tools to foster development in the neighborhoods. While working for the Baltimore Development Corp., he helped lead the effort to provide tax increment financing for the redevelopment of Mondawmin Mall, a major success story for that part of the city. He sees West Baltimore as a potential hub of transit oriented development, and he understands what it would take to make the community an attractive destination for employers. Currently the assistant deputy mayor for economic and neighborhood development, he has the experience, smarts and work ethic to deliver for his district.

District 8

Seven Democrats are running to replace Councilwoman Helen Holton, who is retiring after 20 years in office. Three standouts among them are Kristerfer Burnett, 30, a community organizer; Russell A. Neverdon Sr.,48, a former defense attorney who now works for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; and Reginald "Reggie" Fugett — the brother-in-law of Orioles center fielder Adam Jones and son of former Washington Redskins tight end Jean Fugett, who brings a hint of celebrity to the contest.

Mr. Fugett, who most recently worked in government relations for the California-based Pacific American Fish Company, says he was inspired to enter the race by the unrest following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody last year. Earlier he worked on the constituent services staff of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. As a councilman he would focus on finding ways for the city to invest more in pre-K and promote and expand community schools. Mr. Neverdon, who ran unsuccessfully for city state's attorney in 2014, promises to focus on fixing the district's gaping potholes and broken sidewalks and to make sure it gets its fair share of investment, development and services.

But we recommend Mr. Burnett as the best choice for voters this year. Since last year he's been canvassing door-to-door on an extended listening tour to address residents concerns, and his campaign has focused on youth and after-school programs, technology based job training, crime and urban blight in a district that includes Howard Park, Liberty Heights, Hilton Parkway, Edmundson Village and Wilkins. Mr. Burnett's community organizing background shows he is a hard worker who has proven he possesses the dedication and skills to represent such a highly diverse district, and we urge voters to elect him as their next city councilman.

District 9

When City Councilwoman Agnes Welch retired in 2010, the council on which she served for 27 years appointed her son and longtime aide, William "Pete" Welch, 62, to replace her, despite several criminal convictions on his record. Mr. Welch inherited enough of his mother's supporters to retain his seat in the 2011 elections, but the district has continued to languish. It's time for a change.


Fortunately, this year several challengers are vying to end the Welch dynasty that has long failed to bring improvement to under-served neighborhoods like Rosemont, Harlem Park, Hollins Market and Sandtown-Winchester. Jerrell Bratcher, 33, a former public charter school administrator, promises faster constituent service, while M. Nathaniel Anderson, 58, a pastor at Power of Christ Full Gospel Ministries who lives in Shipley Hill, wants to reduce homelessness and expand medical care for addicts.

Our nod, however, goes to John T. Bullock, 37, an assistant professor of government at Towson University who previously worked in Washington, D.C., as a transportation planner in the mayor's office. Mr. Bullock has knocked on thousands of doors and has been a long-time presence at local community association meetings where he has focused on housing, jobs and employment issues. We think he has the right combination of knowledge, experience and fresh ideas to most effectively represent his district on the council.

District 10


City Council Vice President Edward Reisinger is facing three Democratic challengers in the district that stretches from Carroll Park to Cherry Hill and Curtis Bay. The area is undergoing a period of change as a result of the proposed redevelopment of nearby Port Covington, and its next council member must also be prepared to address such quality-of-life issues as water and air pollution as well as road repairs and transit issues.

Erica S. White, 43, an attorney who lives in Cherry Hill, wants to address the district's environmental problems, its lack of programs for youth and the dearth of supermarkets where healthy foods are sold. She wants to help the city find ways to offer incentives for grocery stores to locate in neighborhoods like Curtis Bay, Brooklyn and Cherry Hill.

Charlie Metz, 58, a small business owner who ran unsuccessfully for the council in 2003, says he wants to make sure development in Port Covington and Westport uses local labor and provides the maximum benefit for district residents. He also opposes the Fairfield incinerator on environmental grounds.

Ms. White and Mr. Metz both offer intriguing ideas about how they would improve life for local residents, but neither has the experience to match Mr. Reisinger's 20-year tenure on the council, during which he has guided the district with a steady hand. Voters can be confident he will stay that course if they re-elect him to another term.

District 11

In one of the most hotly contested races this year, incumbent Councilman Eric Costello, 35, faces challengers Greg Sileo, Dea Thomas and Curtis Johnson to retain the seat to which he was appointed in 2014 after a process that was widely criticized for lacking community involvement. The district includes Federal Hill, Bolton Hill, Locust Point, Sharp-Leadenhall and parts of West Baltimore.

Mr. Johnson, 37, a policy analyst for the Maryland Department of Transportation, has focused on reforming police practices in the district, revitalizing the Howard Street and Pennsylvania Avenue corridors, creating entry-level job training incubators for workers and providing tax-incentives to companies that hire full-time workers from the city's summer jobs program.

Ms. Thomas, 32, a hospital administrator, likewise wants to beef up public safety and encourage economic development and access to affordable housing. Mr. Sileo, 32, a government efficiency consultant who lives in Locust Point, believes public safety and education are the most urgent issues facing his district.

Given that all three challengers are bright, well-educated young people with plenty of energy and drive — as is Mr. Costello himself — the choices they present voters are almost an embarrassment of riches. Any one of them could credibly represent their district on the council. Despite the initial shadow cast over his appointment, Mr. Costello has emerged as a hard-working, diligent spokesman for his constituents and the only council member to compile a perfect voting record in committee. His constituent service during this year's snowstorms was particularly noteworthy. Our nod goes to the incumbent not only because he has ably demonstrated that he's up to the job but because the deep bench of talent ready to challenge him will force him to work even harder.

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