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Annapolis community advocate announces second run for Ward 4 council seat

Toni Strong Pratt, gives remarks and introduces speakers during a 2019 vigil for the 50 victims of two mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand at the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial in Annapolis. Stong Pratt declared her candidacy for the Annapolis City Council Ward 4 seat on Saturday.
Toni Strong Pratt, gives remarks and introduces speakers during a 2019 vigil for the 50 victims of two mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand at the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial in Annapolis. Stong Pratt declared her candidacy for the Annapolis City Council Ward 4 seat on Saturday. (Paul W. Gillespie / Capital Gazette)

A longtime community advocate has filed to run for the Annapolis City Council seat in Ward 4.

Toni Strong Pratt, a former co-chair and current member of the faith and community-based organization Anne Arundel Connecting Together, declared her candidacy Saturday.

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For years, Strong Pratt, a former public housing resident, has advocated for others in the Annapolis public housing community to find the resources they need in areas like mental health and addiction, transportation, immigration, affordable housing, education and gun violence. She has participated in numerous city- and community-led initiatives including the addiction recovery programs and affordable housing task forces.

Her campaign will focus on affordable and accessible housing; smart development; public safety and environmental justice.

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“My daily work reflects my own story,” Strong Pratt said in a statement. “My voice can create change in Annapolis because I have overcome a lot of the issues that many residents in Ward 4 face.”

This will be the second time Strong Pratt, a Democrat, will seek to unseat Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson in a city primary. In 2017, Finlayson defeated Strong Pratt by 17 votes out of the 335 cast.

Strong Pratt is hoping for a different outcome four years later. She called on Ward 4 residents to participate in a “people’s campaign and make change together.”

“My calling is to inspire and develop more leaders who will represent Annapolis for all people,” she said.

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Last year after leaving brief employment with the city, she formed a community relations firm, People Builders Consultant Services, which provides leadership training, mentoring services and other community development resources to residents in the city, Anne Arundel County and Maryland. Between August and September of last year, Strong Pratt served in Mayor Buckley’s office to connect chronic substance users and trauma victims to resources. She resigned at the end of September without taking any compensation.

She previously served as president of the Bay Ridge Gardens community board of directors, and President of the Parent Board of Head Start, a federal preschool program. Strong Pratt is the co-founder of the D.E.S.I.R.E. Addiction Ministry support group.

Finlayson has not yet filed for re-election.

Candidates have until July 26 to file. More information about the 2021 city elections can be found at https://www.annapolis.gov/1702/2021-Elections-Information.

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