Voter Education: Baltimore City Council

The presidential election is approaching fast, though how it will play out in the current situation is yet to be seen. But did you know that when you got to vote this November, there’s going to be lots of other races on your ballot?

As we discussed a little while back, Baltimore and Maryland have a lot of choices in the upcoming election, ranging from Baltimore City Mayor to Circuit Court Judges. Even Maryland Congressional District 7 will be up for election again, despite the special election just held to fill the vacancy. Today, we’re going to focus on a couple of Baltimore specific races involving the City Council.

This map depicts the 14 City Council districts in Baltimore. Unsure of your district? Visit the City Council’s web page to find out.

The Baltimore City Council is responsible for altering and adopting the annual budget for Baltimore City, as well as confirming the Mayor’s appointments. The various committees that the members serve on also inform certain public policy and projects, around topics of education and youth, public safety, transportation, and more. The members of city council are elected based on their district, while the Council President is elected at-large, meaning all voters in Baltimore City. The Council President is an influential figure in Baltimore City, and if Mayor’s position is vacated, they are the ones who step up to fill the office, which is how Mayor “Jack” Young became mayor when Catherine Pugh resigned in May of last year. When Mayor Young stepped up, the members of City Council elected Brandon M. Scott to Council President.

Mayor Young standing with Brandon M. Scott as he swears in as City Council President.

Which leads us to one of the up coming elections: Brandon M. Scott is running for Baltimore mayor, one of many in a large field of Democratic candidates, leaving the Council President position up for grabs. This year, there’s only one Republican candidate running for Council President, but there are seven Democratic candidates running, making it a large pool of choices for most voters.

Two of those candidates currently serve as City Council members, Shannon Sneed and Leon F. Pinkett, III, while the rest have various amounts of experience in Baltimore City politics. Once again, we encourage you to do your research prior to voting, such as with the resources we’ve recommended in the past. Another additional place to find out information is through the Greater Baltimore Committee’s election page, which includes links and questionnaires from all Baltimore City election candidates.

Leon F. Pinkett, III and Shannon Sneed, two City Council members who are running for City Council President this fall.

In addition to Council President, all the City Council positions are up for election this year. These elections, done by district, range in size from just a couple of candidates to ten, depending on the race. Some of the races only have Democratic candidates, while some have Republicans opposing the incumbent leader.

Traditionally, the incumbent candidates have an advantage over any newcomers, though that doesn’t always predict the race, as Shannon Sneed proved in her election to District 13 in 2016. While City Council has to work with many different groups to get plans done, they still have a lot of influence over the way a neighborhood grows and changes. As a Baltimore citizen, it’s your duty to inform your decision before stepping into the voting booth, as you will decide what direction your neighborhood should go!

Still unsure of who to vote for in the upcoming election? Look at how candidates are handling and talking about the current COVID-19 crisis. Who is making decisions and looking out for the safety of Baltimore’s people? In a time like this, it’s more important than ever that we have leaders who we can trust and rely on, to guide us through uncertainty.


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