Initial returns in the race for Baltimore City Council president showed state Del. Nick Mosby with a strong lead, though thousands of votes must still be counted.
Mosby was considered one of three leading Democratic contenders for the city’s No. 2 position, along with former City Councilman Carl Stokes and City Councilwoman Shannon Sneed.
Returns from roughly 70,000 mailed ballots counted before primary day showed Mosby with a 12 percentage point lead over his nearest rival, Sneed, with Stokes not far behind in third. These numbers are based on ballots collected ahead of Tuesday.
There are an unknown number of outstanding ballots to be counted, meaning results are far from certain. About 133,000 people voted in the 2016 Democratic primary. As this is the first election to be held mostly by mail in Maryland, it’s difficult to predict turnout.
Roughly 6,200 people voted in-person in Baltimore on Tuesday. Those returns are expected to come Wednesday morning.
Elections officials will continue to count ballots this week that arrived in the mail or ballot drop boxes. Results are scheduled to be certified by June 12.
Along with the mayor and comptroller, whoever is elected as the next City Council president will take on a visible role in helping Baltimore recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The council president chairs the city’s powerful spending board in addition to presiding over the 15-member council.
The City Council president is first in the line of succession if the mayor dies or resigns the office. Three of the past four mayors, including current Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, were City Council presidents who ascended to the position when the sitting mayor resigned.
The salary of the City Council president is about $125,000 a year.
Mosby, a West Baltimore legislator who is married to Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, has been vocal throughout the health crisis about addressing racial disparities. He pressured the state to provide a breakdown of cases by race and ZIP code, with the goal of rectifying disparities and limiting the disproportionate harm in the black community.
As Council president, Mosby, 41, said he wants to hold lead paint manufacturers accountable and tackle deep-rooted problems like troubled schools and homelessness.
He previously served as a councilman.
According to a poll conducted for The Baltimore Sun, University of Baltimore and WYPR-FM in mid-May, Mosby was favored by 24% of likely Democratic voters.
Da’Vontre Miller, 26, worked with Mosby at community events over the years, and can overlook that they attended rival public high schools: Baltimore Polytechnic Institute for Mosby versus Baltimore City College for Miller.
He appreciates that Mosby’s already got experience on the City Council, and believes he’s already “changed a lot of lives.”
“I believe he’ll get the job done," Miller said, “and he knows what he’s doing.”
When Mosby ran for mayor in 2016, a Sun poll found that a third of voters said they were less likely to vote for him because he is married to the state’s attorney. At the time, Marilyn Mosby’s office was prosecuting six Baltimore police officers for the death of Freddie Gray.
The dynamic appears to have changed some in this race. Many voters have said that part of the reason they’re voting for him is because of his wife; she voices some of his commercials.
For others though, the concentration of political power in one family is cause for concern. Standing outside a South Baltimore polling place, Omar Afzal, 28, said he doesn’t like the state’s attorney and so wouldn’t vote for Mosby to be council president.
Stokes, 70, is a longtime political fixture in Baltimore. He formerly represented East Baltimore, where he was raised. During his tenure, he carved out signature issues like ordering audits for city agencies and scrutinizing deals for publicly financed redevelopment projects.
This is his second run for Council president. He last competed for that job in 2003, and came in third in the primary behind future mayors Sheila Dixon and Catherine Pugh. He’s also a former Baltimore school board member, with considerable name recognition.
Stokes wants to push for local hiring and focus on improving public safety.
His experience and ties to the community appeal to many voters. He had 20% support in the recent poll.
Maryland Policy & Politics
“He’d been in office a long time, so he knows the city," said Ebony Jenkins, 41.
Sneed, a freshman Council member representing East Baltimore, said she wants champion legislation for the city’s working families. During her first term, she successfully sponsored legislation to require space in city businesses for nursing mothers and a bill to require all top officials in local government to live in the city.
The poll showed Sneed, 39, with the backing of 18% of voters polled. More so than the other two top contenders, her campaign benefited from a surge of interest in recent weeks.
Sabina Hood, 61, appreciates Sneed’s attitude on the council. She was part of a wave of younger, progressive legislators that swept into office last election.
“She really speaks her mind," Hood said, "and doesn’t hold back.”
Only Sneed ran on an official slate with other candidates. She aligned herself with City Council President Brandon Scott’s mayoral bid.
Jovani Patterson is the only Republican running for the daunting challenge of facing the Democratic nominee in November. Registered Democrats outnumber Republican voters by nearly 10 to 1 in Baltimore.