Conversations With The Candidates: 2020 | WYPR

Conversations With The Candidates: 2020

Midday host Tom Hall interviews candidates who will be on the ballot in the special February 4 primary election for Maryland's vacant 7th District Congressional seat; in the 7th District general election on April 28th, which is also primary day for all other races in MD, including the Presidential Primary; and in the November 3, 2020 General Election in Maryland.

Video of the interviews available at facebook.com/WYPR881FM/

Follow us on Twitter: @MiddayWYPR and @tomhallwypr.

Photo by Ayyub Hanif / FourSight Studios

Today, another in our series of Conversations with the Candidates running in the 2020 elections for offices to lead Baltimore, the region and the nation.

This week, we've turned our attention to the race for Baltimore City's second-most-powerful post, after the mayor --  the office of City Council President. It's a job being sought by eight contenders — seven Democrats and one Republican.  One of those Democrats is Councilman Leon Pinkett, who was elected in 2016 to represent Baltimore’s 7th Councilmanic District in West Baltimore.

Leon F. Pinkett III was born and raised in Baltimore. He earned a degree in economics from Guilford College in North Carolina.  He was the senior economic development officer at the Baltimore Development Corporation, or BDC,  for nine years. He later joined Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration as Assistant Deputy Mayor in the Office of Economic and Neighborhood Development.

On the City Council, Pinkett serves as the vice chair of both the Budget & Appropriations Committee, and the Transportation Committee. 

Councilman Pinkett is 52 years old. He and his wife, Marika, have two teenaged children and they are long-time residents of the Reservoir Hill community. 

We welcome audience comments and questions for the candidate.

This conversation is being live-streamed on WYPR's Facebook page.  You can watch the video here.

We apologize for the brief microphone problem at the beginning of today's interview.

Courtesy of Shannon Sneed

Councilwoman Shannon Sneed was elected in 2016 to represent Baltimore’s 13th Councilmanic District, where she’s lived since 2008. She is a Democrat and one of 8 candidates running for Baltimore City Council President.

Ms. Sneed holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and a Master’s Degree in Communications Management from Morgan State University. 

Before she became involved in local government, Sneed worked in local journalism as a producer and editor for Fox45 and WJZ Channel 13.

This conversation was live-streamed on WYPR's Facebook page.  You can watch the video here.

Courtesy of Mary Miller for Mayor Campaign

Mary Miller is Tom’s guest today, as our Conversations With The Candidates series continues. She is one of 24 Democratic candidates running for Baltimore mayor.

This is Ms. Miller’s first run for political office, but she is not new to government. In 2009, as the country plunged into recession, Ms. Miller was appointed by President Obama to top jobs at the Treasury Department. After holding several senior leadership positions, she left the Treasury in 2014 as the first woman to serve as the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance.

Before that, she had a long career at T. Rowe Price, here in Baltimore, where she ran the bond division.

For the last few years, she has been a Senior Fellow at Johns Hopkins University where she has worked with the Hopkins 21st Century Cities Initiative.

We livestreamed this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page.  Click here to watch the video. 

Photo Courtesy/ Catalina Byrd for Mayor of Baltimore

  Catalina Byrd was born and raised in Sandtown-Winchester on Baltimore’s West Side.  

Ms. Byrd is a political strategist, community activist, and media personality.  In 2017 she was appointed by former mayor Catherine Pugh to serve on the Community Oversight Task Force.  She currently serves as the Chair of the Domestic Violence Committee of the Women’s Commission of Baltimore City

Ms. Byrd mounted unsuccessful campaigns for Judge of the Orphan’s Court and Mayor in 2010 and 2011.  As an unaffiliated candidate, she was unable to procure enough signatures to get on the ballot in both races. 

There are 92 days until the primary elections for Mayor on April 28th.  If you aren’t registered to vote,  you can register on the Baltimore City Board of Elections website.  The deadline to register is April 7th.  

We livestreamed this conversation on WYPR's Facebook page.  Click here to watch.

Photo Courtesy/ Wright 4 Mayor

Pastor Shannon Wright was born in New York.  She is a former Vice President of the Yonkers NAACP; and also served on the New Jersey NAACP state board of directors. 

Ms. Wright relocated to Baltimore in 2013.  In 2016 she was the Republican nominee in the race for City Council President.  She lost in the general election to now incumbent Mayor “Jack” Young.   

There are 92 days until the primary elections for Mayor on April 28th. If you aren't registered to vote, you can register on the Baltimore City Board of Elections website.  The deadline to register is April 7th.  

We livestreamed this conversation on WYPR's Facebook page.  Click here to watch. 

Courtesy of T.J. Smith for Mayor Campaign

T.J. Smith, the former Baltimore Police Department spokesman, is Tom’s guest today -- part of our Conversations With the Candidates series.  He is one of 19 announced Democratic candidates running for Baltimore mayor.

Mr. Smith joined the police department with the arrival of Commissioner Kevin Davis and served as the chief of communications from 2015 until 2018. After leaving the Police Department, Mr. Smith served as Press Secretary and Communications Advisor to Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr.

Mr. Smith lives in Northwest Baltimore. He grew up in the Dolfield neighborhood, and attended Poly High School before graduating from Woodlawn.

He holds two master’s degrees — one in Strategic Communication from Washington State University and another in Management and Leadership from Johns Hopkins University, where he also earned his undergraduate degree.

He is 42 years old and the father of a young son. If elected Mayor, Mr. Smith says that he will change what he calls the culture of gun violence in our city — with a crime plan that he says will make a difference on Day One.

We livestreamed this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page.  Click here to watch.  

Courtesy of the Spikes for Congress Campaign

Harry Spikes was an aide to Rep. Elijah Cummings for 15 years, serving most recently as district director.  He is also the vice president of the board of directors of the Community Assistance Network, a non-profit organization in Baltimore County that helps individuals and families who are homeless.

In 2014, Mr. Spikes ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates. He is 37 years old. He lives in Oliver, on the east side of Baltimore. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Morgan State University and a Masters of Public Administration in Public Policy from the University of Baltimore.

We livestreamed this conversation on WYPR's Facebook page. Click here to watch.

Courtesy of the Rabb for Congress campaign

Saafir Rabb is the CEO of a company called Interculture. He also leads a local non-profit and he was an advisor on the transition team of President Barack Obama.

Mr. Rabb grew up in Baltimore City and Howard County. He graduated from Poly High School. He holds a BA in Government, Politics and African American Studies from the University of Maryland, an MBA from Johns Hopkins University and a Diploma in Arabic and Islamic Jurisprudence from Abu Nour in Syria.

Saafir Rabb is 43 years old. He lives in Howard Park, in Northwest Baltimore. He is married and has three children.

We livestreamed this conversation on WYPR's Facebook page. Click here to watch.

photo courtesy Dante Swinton

Midday's series of Conversations with the Candidates continues with this special Web-only edition: Tom's January 14 conversation with Dante Swinton, one of more than a dozen Democratic candidates vying in the April 28th primary election, hoping to be the party's nominee for mayor of Baltimore in the November 3rd general election.

Mr. Swinton brings to the mayoral race his experience over the past 5 years as an environmental justice researcher & community organizer for Energy Justice Network.  The Philadelphia-based not-for-profit group led the charge for passage last spring of the Baltimore Clean Air Act, which, pending a ruling in a federal law suit, could severely restrict or possibly shut down the city's largest air polluter, the Wheelabrator trash incinerator, and the nation's largest medical waste incinerator. Mr. Swinton's campaign also addresses a wide range of issues facing the city, from violence reduction and criminal justice reform to transit improvements and economic development.

Mr. Swinton grew up in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He received his B.A. in environmental studies and political science from Winthrop University in Rock Hill in 2010. He received his Masters in nonprofit management and social entrepreneurship from the University of Baltimore in 2017. 

At 31, Dante Swinton is the youngest candidate in the mayor's race.  He lives in Baltimore.

More information about Dante Swinton's bid to become Baltimore's next mayor can be found on his campaign Website, dcs4bmore.org.  

Photo courtesy of Carter for Congress 2020

Today, another in our series of Conversations with the Candidates. Tom's guest for the hour is State Senator Jill P. Carter, one of the Democratic candidates running to fill the the vacancy in the 7th Congressional District created by the death of Representative Elijah Cummings. Twenty-four Democrats and eight Republicans have filed to run in a special primary election on February 4th. 

Senator Carter represents District 41 in the Maryland Senate, a seat she’s held since April, 2018. Before moving to the Senate, she served in the MD House of Delegates for 14 years; she was only the third African-American female attorney to be elected to the Maryland General Assembly.  She also served as the Director of the Baltimore City Office of Civil Rights during the Pugh Administration. 

By Nate Pesce / Maya for Congress

 Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings is a public policy consultant who holds a doctorate in political science.  She’s the former head of the Maryland Democratic Party and she worked for several years on Capitol Hill.  For a brief period, she was a candidate in the 2018 Maryland gubernatorial race. 

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings is 48 years old.  She lives in Baltimore’s Madison Park neighborhood, on the west side.

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates with people who are running to be the next Mayor of Baltimore City.  

Tom's guest is City Council President Brandon Scott.  Mr. Scott was elected President of the City Council by his fellow members eight months ago, when then-Council President Jack Young became Mayor after Catherine Pugh’s fall from grace. 

As the chair of the Council's Public Safety Committee from 2016 until last year, Mr. Scott was an advocate for the reform of the city police department and a holistic approach to crime reduction. 

If elected Mayor, Mr. Scott says he will aim to reduce homicides in Baltimore by 15%, in each year of his term in office.  That would bring the number of annual murders to below 300 by December of 2021. 

Today on Midday, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates who are running to be the next Mayor of Baltimore City.

Tom's guest is former Mayor Sheila Dixon, who held the office from 2007-2010. She resigned in 2010 following a conviction for embezzlement and an Alford plea in a separate case in which she was charged with perjury. She is one of 15 Democratic candidates running in the April 28 primary.

Before her resignation, Ms. Dixon had a long career in local public service -- on the City Council for 12 years and then as City Council president for seven years.  When then-Mayor Martin O’Malley became governor of Maryland, Dixon completed his term as mayor and she was elected to her own term later that year. As part of her plea agreement in conjunction with her conviction she agreed to resign from office, and she was prohibited from running for public office for a period of four years.

Ms. Dixon ran for mayor again in 2016. She narrowly lost the Democratic primary to Catherine Pugh, and she garnered more than 51,000 votes in the general election as a write-in candidate. Now, she is running for mayor for a third time.

We livestreamed this conversation on WYPR’s Facebook page. Click here to watch.

photo courtesy thiru2020.com

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates with the first of several conversations with people who are running to be the next Mayor of Baltimore City.  Tom's guest for the hour is Thiru Vignarajahone of 15 thus-far announced Democratic candidates running in the April 28 primary election to become the party's nominee for Mayor

Mr. Vignarajah is a veteran city and federal prosecutor who’s spent most of his legal career in public service.  He attended Yale University and Harvard Law School, where he served as president of the Harvard Law Review. He went on to clerk for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. He later served as a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore.  He also headed the Major Investigations Unit in the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office.  In 2014, he was appointed Deputy Attorney General for Maryland, a position he left to work on the transition team for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2016.  

Mr. Vignarajah is currently a litigation partner at the law firm DLA Piper in Baltimore. 

Courtesy of Dr. Terri Hill for Congress Campaign

Today on Midday we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates. Tom's guest is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates.

Delegate Terri Hill is a Democrat who is running to succeed Elijah Cummings in Congress, representing Maryland’s 7th Congressional District. Del. Hill is running in a crowded field of 24 Democrats. Terri Hill is a physician who grew up in Columbia, MD. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and her medical degree from Columbia University in New York. She is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who has practiced medicine in the Baltimore metropolitan area for nearly 30 years.

Dr. Hill was first elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 2014. She represents parts of Baltimore and Howard Counties and serves on the Health and Government Operations Committee.

We livestreamed this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page. Click here to watch the video.

Wikimedia.com

Our series of Conversations with the Candidates continues as Tom is joined in the studio by Delegate Talmadge Branch, a veteran state lawmaker who has represented Baltimore and the 45th District in the Maryland House since 1995.  He has also been the Democratic Majority Whip since 2007.

Del. Branch is a candidate, running in a crowded field of 24 Democrats (and 8 Republicans), for the 7th District U.S. Congressional seat vacated by the recent death of Representative Elijah Cummings.

In Annapolis, Mr. Branch has served on the House Ways and Means committee; he’s a member of the Legislative Policy Committee and the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus. He chairs the alcoholic beverages subcommittee, and is the former House Chair of the Joint Committee on Welfare Reform.

Courtesy of Liz Matory

Republican candidate Liz Matory joins us for another in  our series of Conversations with the Candidates.  Matory is an author and the CEO of a small publishing house called Liberty Lives Media. She holds a BA from Columbia University, a law degree from Howard University, and an MBA from the University of MD.

Ms. Matory is mounting her third campaign for Congress after unsuccessful bids in two other districts.     

We live-streamed this conversation the WYPR Facebook page.  Click here to watch the video. 

Tom's next guest in today's Conversations with the Candidates is Dr Mark Gosnell, a Democratic candidate in the 7th District.

Dr. Gosnell is the Director of the Intensive Care Unit at Medstar Harbor Hospital and also the chief of pulmonary medicine there.  This is his first run for public office.  Healthcare is one of his chief policy concerns.  

We livestreamed this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page.  Click here to watch the video. 

Courtesy of Kimberly Klacik

Our Conversation with the Candidates series continues with Kimberly Klacik, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Congress. 

Klacik is a GOP strategist and activist who lives in Baltimore County.  She is the Executive Director and Founder of “Potential Me,” a nonprofit which provides works with disadvantaged women. 

We livestreamed this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page.  Click here to watch the video.  

Photo Courtesy / Higginbotham for Congress

Today, it’s another in our series of Conversations with the Candidates ahead of the special primary election to fill the 7th District congressional seat vacated by the death of Elijah Cummings.

In all, 32 candidates will be on the Republican and Democratic special primary election ballot in February, vying as well for the nomination in the primary elections on April 28th.   

Tom is joined today in Studio A by F. Michael Higginbotham.  He is a legal scholar and professor, who has taught at the University of Baltimore School of Law since 1988.

He holds an undergraduate degree from Brown University, and law degrees from the Yale Law School and Cambridge University.   

photo courtesy Mfume for Congress

Today, we begin a new series of Conversations with the Candidates: 2020 in advance of the special primary election in February, and the local and national primary elections in April. 

The congressional vacancy in Maryland's 7th District, created by the death last month of Representative Elijah Cummings, has attracted 32 candidates to an election to succeed him, including Congressman Cummings’ widow, a former aid, four state legislators and a law professor.

In all, twenty-four Democrats and eight Republicans have filed to run in a special primary election on February 4th.  The general election for the 7th District will take place on April 28th, which is Primary day for all other races in MD, including the Presidential Primary.   

Kweisi Mfume joins Tom today in Studio A.  He is familiar to many 7th District voters.  He held the seat for five terms -- from 1987 to 1996 -- before leaving Congress to head up the NAACP.  He stepped down from that position in November 2004.