Race to replace Curran in Baltimore's 3rd District is wide open

Eight Democrats are running to replace retiring City Councilman Robert W. Curran in Northeast Baltimore, and all have competing visions for revitalizing the Harford Road corridor, improving neighborhood schools and capitalizing on the proximity of Morgan State University.

Curran's departure leaves a wide-open race for the District 3 seat for the first time in two decades. The retiring councilman says he hopes his successor focuses on constituent services, ensuring that the Northeast Police District has adequate resources and keeping the district litter-free.


"The voters of the 3rd District are very knowledgeable and astute, and will evaluate the candidates," said Curran, who has not endorsed any of the candidates. "It's going to be a good turnout."

Democrats competing in the April 26 primary to represent the district's 40,000 residents are Beatrice M. Brown, Marques Dent, Ryan Dorsey, Jermaine Jones, Alicia Joynes, Steven T. Mitchell, Richard R. Riha and George VanHook Sr. Green Party candidate Andreas G. Spiliadis is seeking his party's nomination for the November election.


Gavin Schmitt, president of the Hamilton Hills Neighborhood Association, said many in the district are looking for a highly visible and hands-on council representative who regularly attends community meetings and serves as a liaison for residents. "We need investment. We need support from the city," Schmitt said.

Hamilton Hills is one of more than a dozen neighborhoods in the district, which also includes Arcadia, Hillen, Lauraville and Mayfield. Roughly speaking, its boundaries run along the Baltimore County line to the north, Clifton Park to the south, Belair Road and Walther Avenue to the east and Perring Parkway — jutting out to include Morgan State — to the west.

Dent, a 31-year-old former Air Force captain and longtime volunteer baseball coach, said he wants to focus on building relationships between the city's youth and the police. He also says he will advocate for the creation of jobs that pay a minimum of $15 an hour.

"Everyone in the race has some good ideas. Passion for service is what sets me apart," said Dent, whose home is in the Belair-Parkside neighborhood. He grew up in Northeast Baltimore and has lived in the district for about two years. Dent works in software development for the state and is a former legislative aide.

Dorsey, 34, said he wants to build on his past efforts to serve the community, including pushing for streets to be plowed and encouraging General Assembly lawmakers to make police more accountable. If elected, he wants to boost business along Harford Road, push for better public transit and improve access to affordable housing.

"Baltimore City and the 3rd District need new progressive leadership," said Dorsey, who lives on the border between Mayfield and Belair-Edison. He is a project manager for the audio-visual equipment store Soundscape, a family business started by his grandfather in 1930. Dorsey has lived in the district all his life.

Jones, 31, said his experience as a labor organizer gives him a foundation to hit the ground running, if elected. He wants to better combat property crime, invest more in young people and go after absentee property owners.

"I am dedicated to doing the work to make my neighborhood better," said Jones, who has lived in Hamilton Hills for about a year. He grew up in Northeast Baltimore and helped found the BEST Democratic Club

Joynes, 30, said serving the community is a way of life for her. She wants to improve schools in the district, stimulate the economy by building on partnerships with Morgan State and increase government transparency. She works as a partnership manager for the Family League, mentors girls and is a former legislative aide.

"If we had a more unified 3rd District, we would be able to solve a lot issues. I believe in revitalizing through unity," said Joynes, who is president of the Perring Loch Community Association and has lived in the district for about four years.

Mitchell, 51, of Lauraville, is a criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor who says he has long worked to stem city violence. He has done advocacy work and helped establish a mentoring program.

"I want us to work with young people to get at the root causes of crime," said Mitchell, who has lived in the district since 1998. "I have spent a lot of time prosecuting people, and I want to help stop young people from getting involved with the system."


Riha, 67, a longtime hardware store owner who has lived in Westfield for about 12 years, said bringing down the rate city water customers pay is a top priority. He also has worked in real estate and sold insurance. He wants to improve the quality of city schools.

"The water bills are too high and driving people away," Riha said. "I am a fighter. I am a worker."

VanHook, 61, has lived in the district for nearly 30 years, raising three sons in Hamilton Hills, serving on the city school board for six years and working as a substitute teacher. Now retired, VanHook is a former state administrator for the welfare-to-work program. He said he wants to push for more community policing, better school programs and stronger businesses, especially those outside the downtown corridor.

"I am a seasoned, long-standing public servant who has given his best and his all," VanHook said.

According to campaign finance documents filed in January, VanHook had no cash on hand, and Dent and Joynes each reported less than $1,000 in their accounts. Dorsey had $50,000 and Jones had $57,000. Brown, Mitchell and Riha have no active filings.

Spiliadis, 48, the Green Party challenger, reported about $1,000 on hand.

He said the city has been run by a single political party for far too long, and he hopes he could force change if elected. He said he is most concerned about the city's aging infrastructure and its impact on residents' health and on the environment.

"We can't have healthy kids if we don't have a healthy infrastructure," said Spiliadis, an urban farmer and small-business owner who has lived in the district for five years. He has a home in Arcadia.

Brown, a member of the city Democratic Central Committee who lives in Perring Loch, did not respond to requests for comment.


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