2020: a majority-millennial government in Baltimore?
By Mileah Kromer
Jun 12, 2019 | 8:55 AM
First-term City Councilwoman Shannon Sneed's baby girl, Rae, is about to turn 1, and has spent quite a bit of time growing up inside the city council. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)
We mock them as the entitled occupants of parental basements. We blame them for killing everything from doorbells to starter homes to dating. We ignore the public policies and economy they inherited and breathlessly stereotype them into a perpetual adolescence of their own making. Yet, despite the relentless "kids these days" tropes, the reality is that the millennials have grown up — and are now ready to lead.
Their burgeoning power as voters will be matched by the consequence of their realized political ambitions. A wave of millennial candidates in 2018 lessened some of the serious and valid concerns about their willingness to run for public office. Millennials now control 26 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives; 20 of them were elected in the last cycle. They also jumped into races at the state level in record numbers. According to the non-partisan Millennial Action Project, more than 800 Millennials ran for state legislative seats during the midterms.
Bernard C. "Jack" Young, president of the Baltimore City Council, speaks to the media in Annapolis. Young will take over as ex officio Baltimore mayor as Mayor Catherine Pugh takes a leave of absence. (Pamela Wood / Baltimore Sun video)
For example, a Gallup study found that millennials have a profound sense of ownership in their work and care deeply about seeing projects to their completion. They flourish when held accountable, and accomplishments fuel them to do more. Elected officials motivated to meet public demands by shepherding projects from start to finish would be an asset to a city searching for measurable progress.
The most notable characteristic of millennials is their rejection of the status quo and desire to find new ways to solve problems. Could government built on resistance to doing things "the way we've always done them" bring the change Baltimore City needs? We might just find out in 2020.
Mileah Kromer is the director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, which conducts the Goucher Poll. She is also an associate professor of political science. Born in 1981, she is among the first of the millennials. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @mileahkromer.