The Sun makes the following endorsements for Baltimore City Council in districts 12-14:

District 12


It's a tough call in District 12, where incumbent Carl Stokes is leaving to pursue a longshot bid for mayor. His assistant, Robert Stokes Sr. (no relation), 57, has been watching the council work for years and seems as if he could slide into the position without too much of a learning curve. He says his focus will be on jobs, education and public safety and that he will be more committed than others, but overall, the Oliver resident feels like more of the old guard than the potential new one.

Legal consultant Kelly Cross, 37, comes across as professional and smart. He's a relative newcomer to the city, however, having moved to Old Goucher in 2010 with his husband, and he seems more focused on the wider world; he said he travels extensively in his day job and would promote Baltimore abroad, then bring some of the best international ideas back. That's laudable in a big picture way, but we wonder how well he'd handle day-to-day constituent services here. He also has a 2009 voyeurism conviction in Washington, D.C., for surreptitiously filming a man undressing at a sports club and later attempting to film the man in a toilet stall using a shaving kit bag with a hole cut out for the camera lens, according to the affidavit in support of his arrest; the affidavit was included in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case Mr. Cross filed in federal court in 2013. Mr. Cross told The City Paper that he had arranged with a man on Craigslist to rendezvous at the gym, and that he assumed the person he was filming was that man. Even if so, the incident is troubling.

Gary Crum, 33, also has a criminal record — the kind that many underprivileged black men in Baltimore have: He has several drug related convictions, along with handgun possession charges (all from one incident) that were ultimately dropped. He says he "used to try to hustle" to pay for college and that the gun wasn't his. He also says he tells his story all the time; it's one of his best selling points. He was raised by his grandmother in Oliver, where he still lives, because his mother was then on drugs and his father was locked up for much of his childhood. He says he made some poor decisions and learned from them.

Today, he works as a property manager and also has worked with Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) and The Reinvestment Fund, and his focus on the council would be improving job and housing opportunities and getting people off the corners by providing resources and alternate paths. His story is about "perseverence," he says, and proves that you can overcome your hurdles. That's a message that a large portion of Baltimore's population can stand to hear. Assuming he stays on the straight and narrow, we think Mr. Crum could be a voice on the City Council for residents who are too often overlooked. He has our endorsement.

District 13

Five years ago, political newbie Shannon Sneed came within a hair's breadth of a Baltimore City Council seat, losing to District 13 incumbent Warren Branch by just 43 votes. We regret failing to endorse her then, and this time around, we're rooting for the 35 year old to pull out a win in East Baltimore district, which includes parts of Belair-Edison, Butcher's Hill, Middle East and McElderry Park.

In 2011, Ms. Sneed, who lives in Ellwood Park/Monument, was already working in her community mentoring kids, volunteering with the nonprofit Banner Neighborhoods and solving problems for older neighbors who automatically turned to her. Since then, she served on Banner's board along with the board of nonprofit Belair Edison Neighborhoods, where she encouraged first time home buyers, and she helped win a $67,000 grant to beautify her neighborhood. She said she has also spent the past year knocking on doors outside her district to get a sense of the common issues throughout the city. Her priorities for her district and the city are largely the same: connecting people with job opportunities and skills training, promoting affordable housing, reducing crime and improving education.

Ms. Sneed has a background in broadcast journalism, giving her the necessary communication skills for the job, and works today as director of volunteer recruitment for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake. She's enthusiastic and well liked with diverse community support. Her name came up again and again in researching candidates, and we're happy to also give her our backing.

By contrast, about the only headline Mr. Branch made in his last four years was as one of the worst offenders on the City Council when it comes to missing votes. Last year, The Sun's Luke Broadwater and Yvonne Wenger analyzed the attendance records of all members of the City Council at committee and full council voting sessions from December, 2011 until April, 2015. They found that Mr. Branch missed 54 percent of his votes during that period. Residents of the 13th District can do better than a councilman who shows up less than half the time.

District 14

At 74, Mary Pat Clarke, who lives in Tuscany-Canterbury, already has 28 years under her belt as a City Council member in three separate stints: from 1975 to '83, 1987 to '95 (as City Council president) and most recently from 2004 until today. And we'd be happy if she earned another four as the representative for District 14, located in the north central section of Baltimore and encompassing parts of Hampden, Pen Lucy, Original Northwood, Oakenshawe and Roland Park among other neighborhoods.

Though she was in office before some of this year's candidates were born, Ms. Clarke can likely match most of them on energy and clearly outdoes them when it comes to institutional history — something we're going to need given that at least six of the 14 districts will have new council members after the election. And if the council makeup turns out to be as young and aggressive as many predict, members will need a strong den mother to show them the ropes. Ms. Clarke has a teaching background and a history of working with young people to be change agents, as she reminded The Sun's Dan Rodricks in a recent podcast. And she isn't afraid to shake things up herself; witness the introduction Monday of legislation to increase Baltimore's minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020.

Ms. Clarke knows her district, is responsive to constituent needs and has a vision for the future. Other candidates have mentioned her as someone they're not only willing to work with, but excited to. She has our endorsement.