Councilman Ryan Dorsey regularly rides his bicycle the four miles from his home near Lake Montebello in Northeast Baltimore downtown to City Hall, or he catches the bus. A car is a last resort.
He is known as an outspoken public transit booster, chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee and sponsor of sweeping legislation, now law, that requires Baltimore streets to work better for pedestrians, cyclists and mass transportation. But Dorsey says he is running for re-election on a record that includes much more than bikes lanes.
In his first term, the 38-year-old councilman said he worked to pass laws making government more accountable and improving fair housing practices. He said he has resolved some 1,500 constituent service issues and brought millions of dollars in capital investment to the district, including about $2.5 million planned for North Harford Playfield.
The council’s District 3 is made up of more than a dozen neighborhoods, including Arcadia, Hamilton Hills and Mayfield. It abuts the Baltimore County line to the north, and includes Morgan State University and the Harford Road corridor.
Dorsey said he wants to win re-election in the June 2 primary, because “the work is not done.”
But first, he needs to convince voters he is a better choice than Rain Pryor, an executive producer, small business owner and mother motivated to seek office from first-hand experience.
Pryor, 50, of Lauraville said she decided to run after her daughter was severely bullied in her public elementary school, and Pryor said she couldn’t even get any one to respond to her concerns. She wants win office so others have a different outcome than she did: And she promises to listen to people’s concerns so she can help them fix whatever problems they may be facing.
“I tend to listen more than I talk,” she said. “If I won, I would be making myself as available as possible to help people troubleshoot and be surrounding myself with people who know a lot more than I do.”
Pryor said the pandemic has shifted her plans if she were to be elected, saying “it is about rebuilding.”
“What I am hearing from people is, ‘How am I going to feed my family?’ ‘I have no job to go to.’ ‘I have had to close my business,’ ” said Pryor, who also folded her small business, Raindrop Confections, because of the coronavirus.
Pryor has a lot less money than Dorsey to get the word out about her campaign. She reported about $3,300 in the April election filings compared to the $106,000 Dorsey had in his warchest.
She said asking people for money for her campaign makes her uncomfortable.
“I would rather call and say, ‘We need money for the community’ rather than, ‘I need some money for a flier,’" she said.
But Pryor is banking on something else: the value of her famous name. She is the daughter of the late comedian and actor Richard Pryor.
Dorsey said as the outbreak upended the campaign, he has replaced door-knocking and voter outreach with well-being checks on constituents. He sent a recent mailer to all registered voters, not just Democrats, in the district and said he used it to communicate places people can turn for help.
“I turned my campaign operation into simply reaching people to check in on them and make sure that their needs are being met,” Dorsey said. “We are providing everybody as much assistance possible.”
Also running for the seat is Democrat Mel Munk, who had about $700 in the bank.
Republican David Marshall Wright will face the winner in November.