(Screenshot via Brandon Scott/Facebook)
City Council President Brandon Scott is in prime position to become Baltimore’s next mayor.
Following a week of mail-in ballot counting, Scott was declared the winner of the mayoral Democratic primary on Tuesday, per the AP.
— WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore (@wbaltv11) June 10, 2020
With the nomination, Scott advances to the general election in November, where he will face the winner of the Republican primary — where Shannon Wright is currently leading — and businessman Bob Wallace, who is running as an independent. With Democrats holding a huge advantage among registered voters in Baltimore, winning the primary typically clears the path to victory.
Scott, 36, has been a member of City Council since 2011, and served in former mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration. Scott ran on a platform of bringing change to City Hall, with accountability and trust high on the agenda following last year’s indictment of former mayor Catherine Pugh over corruption tied to the Healthy Holly scandal.
Scott’s election is the headline of what seems to be a moment of generational change brewing around Baltimore politics. Scott is part of a wave of new faces in top citywide positions that won primary elections:
- In the comptroller’s race, City Councilmember Bill Henry unseated 25-year incumbent Joan Pratt with campaign pledges to bring accountability and transparency to the position that serves as a fiscal watchdog. This includes increasing the number of audits conducted of city agencies, and the comptroller’s office also oversees the city phone system, where upgrades have been a flashpoint of controversy in recent years.
- In the City Council president race, state delegate and former City Councilmember Nick Mosby won the primary election to lead the legislative body. Adding to the wave of new faces that are being reelected after taking office four years ago, he would be joined by Odette Ramos of the 14th District, who would be the City Council’s first Latina member.
- And, it’s worth noting, Scott appears poised to take office after State Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore) rose to become Maryland Senate president earlier this year.
While Scott said he was in a budget hearing when news came in on Tuesday night, he took time to talk about the nomination on Wednesday. Speaking outside a home in Park Heights, where he grew up, Scott said change will require Baltimore residents to unite, and called on residents to be willing to “be uncomfortable.”
“Our campaign was about proving to the world that a young black man who grew up in a forgotten Baltimore here in Park Heights could survive everything that you have to live through in Baltimore — the gun violence, underfunded schools, living in neighborhoods with vacant homes, living in areas where you know that you were not going to be recognized as human even by your own city government — that somebody could survive all of that to be the leader of this city, this great city, and serve as an example for the generations to come,” he said.
So what to expect from a Scott administration on tech and economic development? For one, we can look to his actions in office. Scott has long been a champion of open data, and recently spoke about how addressing the digital divide is a key equity issue that arose during the pandemic.
As always in electoral politics, the campaign is also one place to look. Scott released an economic development plan on “building an inclusive, equitable economy.”
We also took the liberty of putting candidates on the record. The candidates answered a questionnaire from Technical.ly on tech and entrepreneurship issues. Scott answered yes to each of these questions:
- I support city government initiatives to expand access to technology across the City of Baltimore, including to the more than 74,000 households who currently lack an internet connection.
- I believe Baltimore’s economic growth requires modern workforce development strategies.
- I support programs that aim to introduce technology practices and products developed by public and private sector leaders into city government.
- I believe modern economic development includes high-growth software companies.
- I support viewing technology and entrepreneurial expansion through an equity lens.
- I support efforts to bolster cybersecurity within the City of Baltimore, including ensuring that the city has learned lessons from two ransomware attacks over the last two years, and taking steps to prepare in the event of future attacks.
- I believe open data is a dominant trend in transparent, responsive and effective government.
- I support city procurement reform to enable the City of Baltimore to more efficiently, transparently and modernly acquire the best goods and services, including the use of open source software when appropriate and preferring locally-based firms.
Here are additional comments he provided in the survey:
“My first priority is to invest in programs and policies that will radically transform and rapidly improve the quality of basic city services. This includes hiring a City Administrator to oversee much of this important base work. We are not going to be able to combat the negative perception of Baltimore City if residents’ core city services are not reliably provided, or if people do not trust our elected officials and institutions. Businesses and residents will be more inclined to relocate to the City if they can be sure that the streets are paved, trash is picked up on time, and constituent issues are handled in an efficient and equitable manner. We must start with the basics.
We must also focus on the central issues facing our City: improving public safety, improving education, and cleaning up the City government. By focusing on these, we will make Baltimore safer and more trustworthy.
Any loss of life to violence is unacceptable. But with 300 murders for five years in a row, it’s time for a comprehensive response to the disease of gun violence. As Mayor, I will establish a holistic vision with a focus on investing in young people, addressing trauma, providing supportive housing, and reforming the police department.
Baltimore City Public Schools have been underfunded by the State and the City for decades. As Mayor, I will increase the City’s contribution to public schools to right these historical wrongs so that our City’s children get the education and resources they deserve.
A city government that is not transparent is one that is not effective, not equitable, and not accountable to the people. A government that is not accountable to the people cannot effectively address their needs, whether surrounding housing instability, public safety, public health, or quality education. As Mayor, I will make the city government more transparent and accountable.
We must work together with the surrounding jurisdictions to improve transportation options for all residents and to improve our impact on the environment. These problems can not be solved by the city alone and require collaboration with all regional stakeholders.
By addressing these core issues in our City, we will make Baltimore the City we know it can be.”
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