In Baltimore City Council’s District 6 race, an incumbent and two Democratic challengers are are campaigning on promises to address problems old and new, including coronavirus spread, persistent crime and vacant homes.
The Northwest Baltimore district wraps around Coldspring, Ashburton and Windsor Hills, ending above the Gwynns Falls. It’s home to both affluent neighborhoods and streets plagued by gun violence. And some portions of the district fall within the 21215 ZIP code, which has one of the highest coronavirus case counts in the state.
Incumbent candidate Sharon Green Middleton, a Democrat, is defending the seat she’s held since she was appointed in 2007 to finish the term of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who had become council president and later would be mayor.
Middleton intends to spend a new term focused on crime abatement and the economic development of her district, she said. She believes strong partnerships are key for buoying distressed communities in District 6, where the pandemic has exposed disparities.
“My focus is bringing in resources and revitalization," she said. “I want to provide a safe and secure place to live.”
Middleton’s campaign had the largest cash balance of the candidates, with about $73,000 in January and about $56,000 in April.
Also running for the seat are two Democrats, Taurus Barksdale and Timothy Mercer. The winner will face Republican Michelle Y. Andrews in June.
Mercer ran against Middleton in 2016, when he campaigned on plans to address vacant homes, reform city school system and advocate state laws allowing the expungement of some court records. He has not filed required campaign finance reports with the state.
Barksdale said he is a proud, lifelong resident of the district and has concerns over vacant homes, community divestment and a high crime rate. The 27-year-old gained some attention in February when he hired squeegee workers and helped the youth connect to other employment opportunities through his nonprofit Baltimore Beautification Project, as well as a moving company he runs.
“I just think we need a strong leader, a voice for the community," he said of his candidacy, adding that he decided to run for City Council after approaching Middleton as a constituent with concerns. He left the meeting with Middleton “not feeling too hopeful" about plans for the district.
Barksdale’s campaign reported a cash balance of about $3,000 in April.
As the lone Republican in the race, Andrews said she hopes to bring a fresh perspective to council and to address the districts’ stubborn crime rates, disparate access to city services and prevalence of vacant homes, she said.
“In the last 10 years, I haven’t seen any growth but I’ve seen more youths doing what they shouldn’t be doing,” she said. “I think we need some new blood in that seat to make a change that can ripple out through the city.”
State campaign finance records show Andrews signed an affidavit pledging not to raise or spend more than $1,000 on the campaign.
Baltimore Sun reporter Tim Prudente contributed to this article.