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North Baltimore’s District 14 race draws vibrant competitors to replace retiring longtime Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke

On paper, Odette Ramos looks like she has a lock on the District 14 election to represent North Baltimore on the City Council.

The Democrat has the coveted endorsement of retiring Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, the longtime community representative known for strong constituent services. Ramos out-raised all of the other candidates in the race combined, and she recently led the successful effort to create the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

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But competitors in the June 2 primary Joe Kane and Stephanie Murdock say their experiences, visions and grassroots support make them compelling choices to serve the district’s 46,000 residents. The 14th District includes some of the city’s most affluent communities, such as Guilford, and some of its more challenged ones, such as Coldstream Homestead Montebello.

Kane, 34, is an Army combat veteran and a contractor with the Coast Guard in Baltimore. With about $3,400 in the bank, Kane said his campaign is relying on the community organizing he has done over the last decade. He has been active in his kids’ school’s Parent and Community Advisory Board, the Baltimore Algebra Project and the NAACP.

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His bid for office is built around the desire to connect his neighbors to the political process, said Kane, who lives in Ednor Gardens-Lakeside.

“How do we use the seat to mobilize people around changing our city?” Kane said. “If we don’t organize our communities, you will never see the long-term systemic change.”

He is on a slate with former Mayor Sheila Dixon, who is running to get her old job back.

Murdock, 37, of Hampden, is the legislative liaison for the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development. She worked for Clarke on constituent services for seven years, helping to resolve some 3,000 issues. Murdock said while she and Clarke remain close, Clarke made her mind up to endorse Ramos before Murdock jumped in the race.

Given the years she spent serving the community in Clarke’s office, Murdock said she believes many in the 14th District know who she is, the expertise she has and hard work she can offer. She thinks her reputation will make up for the little money she raised.

According to her January campaign finance report, she had about $3,400. More recently she stopped fundraising.

Her campaign is centered on “people, parks and progress.” Among her goals is putting more city services online and moving Baltimore to a “zero waste” city."

Murdock’s signature accomplishment is founding the skatepark in Roosevelt Park.

“I was called to service by members of my community,” Murdock said. “They have seen my record of community service over the last decade and have concrete examples of the impact on the city.”

When Clarke announced her retirement, Ramos said she decided to run after considering whether she could be more effective continuing to be on the “outside pushing in" or, “on the inside reforming systems.”

“I see this as the best way to make change,” said Ramos, 47, of Charles Village. She is Puerto Rican and would become Baltimore’s first Hispanic elected official.

She had more than $44,000 cash on hand.

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As the director of the Community Development Network, Ramos led the campaign for Baltimore’s voter-approved affordable housing trust fund and fought for the General Assembly to pass legislation to address vacant and blighted properties.

Ramos said she wants to take on many complicated problems, including substance abuse treatment, exploring the creation of a regional water authority and rethinking how tax breaks can spur investment in overlooked communities.

“The work that I have done is across the board from addressing vacant properties and affordable housing to women’s issues and minimum wage,” Ramos said. “I am ready. I feel ready to take these on. I look forward to it.”

Clarke called Ramos “exactly the kind of person we need in the council" because of her legislative experience, the relationships she has built across the city and state and her “compulsion” toward constituent service.

“She is the right person," Clarke said.

Rita Church, daughter of the late councilwoman of the same name, also is running as a Democrat.

Republican Charles Long will face the nominee in November.

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