Carlmichael ‘Stokey’ Cannady announces run for Baltimore mayor

Carlmichael "Stokey" Cannady, a community activist who turned his life around after serving 14 years in prison for running a drug gang, intends to formally file paperwork to enter the race after a well-attended rally in Baltimore June 1, 2019.

Baltimore activist Carlmichael “Stokey” Cannady announced Tuesday his run for city mayor, pledging to represent those who feel “overlooked, ignored and unheard," according to a release.

Cannady, 49, has built a reputation as an anti-violence advocate and mediator since his release from federal prison following a sentence for drug dealing. He does marketing work for Shoe City, a local shoe seller that hosts anti-violence events. He is entering the race as a Democrat.


The Baltimore native billed himself as an unlikely candidate with a checkered past that has molded him into an authentic leader, capable of galvanizing first-time voters who feel underrepresented in city politics.

In 2015, Cannady organized a summit for local rappers and police, hoping to ease tensions among law enforcement and between rival groups. In the unrest following Freddie Gray’s death, he advocated for establishing family resource centers throughout the city — while teasing a run for office.


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“There are many issues that are currently plaguing many of our neighborhoods but together with a strong community foundation we can bring real change to Baltimore," Cannady said in a statement. "In my role as a business owner, community leader, anti-violence activist and youth advocate, I’m constantly touching the people and I understand the needs of Baltimore.”

The candidate plans to convene with potential voters Tuesday at noon on the former Target lot of Mondawmin Mall.

Cannady faces competition from a handful of hopefuls who have already filed including: the unofficial “mayor of Hampden” Lou Catelli (real name, Will Bauer), Lynn Sherwood Harris, Ralph E. Johnson, II, Dante C. Swinton and Frederick Ware-Newsome.

Baltimore’s current mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, said last week he is also considering jumping into the race.

Young, the former City Council president who became mayor when Catherine Pugh resigned May 2 amid scandal, said people are encouraging him to run based on his performance in office thus far.

The filing deadline is Jan. 24 and the primary is April 28.

Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.