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Democrat Carl Stokes running for Baltimore City Council president

Former Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes filed Friday to seek the Democratic nomination to run for Baltimore City Council president. In this file photo, Stokes is shown at debate in an earlier race at University of Baltimore.
Former Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes filed Friday to seek the Democratic nomination to run for Baltimore City Council president. In this file photo, Stokes is shown at debate in an earlier race at University of Baltimore.(Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

Former Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes filed late Friday to seek the Democratic nomination to run for Baltimore City Council president.

City and U.S. House candidates had until 9 p.m. Friday to fill out paperwork to run for offices that will be on the ballot this year. The primary elections are scheduled for April 28, with the general election on Nov. 3.

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Stokes’ candidacy is listed on the Maryland State Board of Elections website. He filed shortly before 8 p.m., according to employees of the Baltimore Board of Elections.

Stokes said in a brief phone interview that he didn’t decide until Friday evening to get into the race.

“At 7 p.m., I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he said.

“A couple people are happy,” he said of the initial reaction to his filing. “A couple are very angry.”

Stokes declined to discuss his reasons for running, saying he would hold a formal campaign announcement in February.

Stokes has sought citywide office several times, running unsuccessfully in 1999, 2011 and 2016 for mayor. He also ran in 2003 for council president against future mayors Sheila Dixon and Catherine Pugh, finishing third. In addition to previously serving on the City Council, Stokes is a former Baltimore school board member.

With incumbent Council President Brandon Scott running for the Democratic mayoral nomination, the seat is open.

Already in the Democratic primary were City Councilwoman Shannon Sneed, City Councilman Leon F. Pinkett III, state Del. Nick Mosby and Dan Sparaco, an attorney and former assistant deputy mayor.

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Stokes led in the 1999 mayoral race before his campaign was derailed by false statements in his literature, which said Stokes had graduated from college when he had not. He ultimately lost to Democrat Martin O’Malley, who later became governor.

Stokes joined City Council in 2010 after then-Councilman Bernard C. “Jack” Young, a longtime political ally, became council president and recommended Stokes for his seat. Young is now mayor and running against Scott and 22 other Democrats.

Stokes became a leader on financial issues as chairman of the taxation and finance committee. He argued in favor of an audit requirement for every department. He also fought against subsidies for large developments, opposing tax breaks for the Harbor Point project and objecting to $107 million in bonds for the development’s infrastructure.

Stokes, 69, is not related to Democratic City Councilman Robert Stokes Sr., his former legislative aide.

Baltimore Sun reporters Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood contributed to this article.

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