by Benn Ray
Wednesday night, March 9, 2016, the Hampden Community Council, the Medfield Community Association and the Wyman Park Community Association teamed up to host a Candidate's Night Out forum at the Keswick Mutli-Care Facility.
This was an opportunity for the community to meet the candidates seeking to represent them.
It was like a super-nerdy convention without the cosplay or white long boxes of comics and obese men in under-sized Wolverine t-shirts loaded with pit-stains. A local politics convention, complete with booths, people handing out promotional material, the opportunity to talk to the people you were actually there to see, and then, of course, the main event - where candidates for the 7th District and 14th District city council seats, Baltimore City Council President and Mayor of Baltimore introduced themselves to the people they would like to represent and had a few minutes to answer pre-event submitted questions.
This wasn't a debate. But in an election where there are so many candidates, it was a good way to separate the competent from the incompetent,
One thing I noted was that if you're watching a chair for someone at an event like this, make sure you guard it aggressively. About halfway through the proceedings, the man sitting in front of us got up for a minute. Within seconds, a woman sat in his seat. The woman he was with tried to explain someone was sitting there, but the snagging the seat woman didn't care - refusing to relinquish her newfound chair (even though there were a number of other open chairs in the room). When the man returned a few minutes later, somewhat miffed as to what happened to his seat, he and his wife ended up getting up and moving away to the back of the auditorium, possibly leaving the event.
Here is my impression of the candidates, at least the ones who bothered to show up. The names crossed out are the candidates who didn't show up. I have essentially separated the candidates into 2 categories, Competent (which means I would suggest you looking into them further for your vote) or Incompetent (which means they aren't worthy of your vote).
The way I figure it, if a candidate couldn't be bothered to show up or, at the very least, have some of their campaign staff there handing out literature, then that candidate doesn't deserve my vote.
BALTIMORE CITY COUNCIL: 7TH DISTRICT
Asa, Antonio (Democratic)
Bell, Marshall (Democratic)
Church, Kenneth Paul (Democratic)
Davidson, Kerry J. (Democratic)
Day, Jamar E. (Democratic)
McMillan, David (Democratic)
Pinkett, Leon (Democratic)
Purenell, Tamara (Republican)
Royalty, Ahmed (Democratic)
Tarrant, Shawn Z. (Democratic)
West, Wesley (Democratic)
SUMMARY: In the 7th District, the only candidates who seemed competent were :
- Leon Pinkett (Democratic)
- Shawn Z. Tarrant (Democratic)
BALTIMORE CITY COUNCIL: 14TH DISTRICT
Boyce, Thomas (Republican)
Clark, Mary Pat (Democratic)
Carter, David E. (Democratic)
Williams, Terrell (Democratic)
SUMMARY: Incumbent Mary Pat Clarke is the only candidate vying for the 14th District council seat who showed up to this event. The 14th District is my voting district. Despite the differences we may have had in the past over Residential Permit Parking, Mary Pat still works hard for her district and I believe is generally well-intentioned. She has my vote.
BALTIMORE CITY COMPTROLLER:
King, Mike (Democratic)
Pratt, Joan (Democratic)
Bombach, Jon (Libertarian)
SUMMARY: Mike King is the only candidate to show up. He seemed very passionate about audits (as did a number of candidates for other offices). I'm not sure he came off as particularly competent, but he didn't come off as incompetent either. However, Pratt didn't care to show up, and I'm not sure electing a Libertarian (Bombach) to Comptroller would benefit the city.
CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE:
Sitting Judges Slate
SUMMARY: Judges didn't speak at this forum. However, they were there, asking for votes. The current judges are running as a slate, and some of them were handing out their pamphlets and asking to vote for "Sitting Judges". Oppenheim is a running as an equal justice reformer. He has some ideas about a fairer bail system. He was a friendlier and more engaged candidate. I felt like the sitting judges were a little put-out by having to campaign. I also think this tends to be an office where we just rubber-stamp people. My friends Marty and Emily are campaigning for Oppenheim, and that and meeting him is good enough for me. As for the rest of the judges, I have no idea.
BALTIMORE CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT:
Gartanga, Susan (Libertarian)
Meek, Conner (Green)
Trueheart, Kim (Democratic)
Wiggins, David (Democratic)
Wright, Shannon (Republican)
Young, Bernard C. "Jack" (Democratic)
SUMMARY: Neither of the candidates who showed up struck me as competent. However, if pressed between Trueheart and Wright, Trueheart seemed like the sort of well-intentioned character who could make things interesting in City Hall. Wright did not come off as competent in any way.
MAYOR OF BALTIMORE:
Clifton, Mack (Democratic)
Cupid, Gersham (Democratic)
Dixon, Shiela (Democratic)
Embry, Elizabeth (Democratic)
Girard, Armand (Republican)
Gutierrez, Patrick (Democratic)
Harris, Joshua (Green)
Klauda, Sarah (Unaffiliated)
Marriot, David (Green)
McCray, Emanuel (Green)
Mckesson, DeRay (Democratic)
Mosby, Nick (Democratic)
Pugh, Catherine (Democratic)
Ray, Benn (Write-In)
Stokes, Carl (Democratic)
Torbit, Chancellor (Republican)
Walden, Alan (Republican)
Wardlow, Larry (Republican)
Walsh, Cindy (Democratic)
Warnock, David (Democratic)
Wilson, Witon (Democratic)
Young, Calvin (Democratic)
So, the candidates who showed up who seemed to make competent mayoral candidates were:
- Elizabeth Embry (Democratic)
- Joshua Harris (Green)
- Catherine Pugh (Democratic)
- Benn Ray (Write-In) - although I did not speak
And competent in a pinch:
- Carl Stokes (Democratic)
I have been supporting Nick Mosby. However, the fact that he didn't show up to the forum has made me think twice, unfortunately. On the plus side, he did have campaign workers show up and hand out literature. So I give him half a point.
Thoughts about some of the other mayoral candidates:
- Gersham Cupid - Pro-cop.
- Patric Gutierrez - He's the "We're mad as hell and we're not gonna take it anymore" candidate from a Scorsese movie.
- DeRay Mckesson - So the fact that he decided to hold a fundraiser in the New York home of a Citibank executive the same night as this candidate disqualifies him as a legitimate candidate. I'm not sure what Mckesson hopes to get out of running for the Mayor of Baltimore, but I suspect he'll get more out of it than the city will, and that's too bad.
- Alan Walden - This guy was a WBAL radio voice. Pretty sure he shit-talked me either during the Independent Hampden or Bmore Local days on that station. Regardless, it'd be like voting for one of the more uptight characters from the TV show Mad Men.
- Larry Wardlaw - Seems unlikely he'd live through the first term (although I in no way wish him ill. You keep clearing your throat in microphones, wandering around auditoriums while you're supposed to be on stage, and taking pictures of the folks you're on stage with for as long as you can. You be you, Larry.)
- Cindy Walsh - Seemed like the Bernie Sanders-supporting cat lady on your block who lectures you about recycling even though you recycle.
- David Warnock - He is a smaller, local version of Donald Trump masquerading as Michael Bloomberg. Successful at business does not equate to successful at governing. For those who say, "I want to elect a business person as a politician," I ask, "Why? Would you hire a plumber to replace your roof?"
- Calvin Young - He was there and said hi, but left early without participating in the forum.
For more about mayoral candidates, check out the City Paper's Mayoral Round-Up.
And there are a number of other debates, forums and meet and greets taking place all over the city.
And please, remember to vote on April 26.