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City Council President Brandon Scott Officially Declares Mayoral Race

Baltimore City Hall


After months of speculation, Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott has officially entered the 2020 mayoral race, becoming the first elected official to do so.


The 35-year-old announced his campaign in north Baltimore on Friday morning, surrounded by family members and a group of leaders from the second district, which he represented as a councilman, as well as other city leaders.


“Baltimore needs a mayor who understands all of Baltimore and does not cater to special interests, but who’s willing to invest in communities with the highest need and into initiatives that save our youth,” Scott said. “We need a mayor who will treat gun violence as a disease and throw the full force of the government, not just the police, into addressing this epidemic.”


“We need our health department, our school system, our transportation department all together working to comprehensively reduce the gun violence,” he said in a campaign video. “I have the leadership, the wherewithal and the ability to do that.”  


The city council president’s move heats up the race and puts pressure on other potential Democratic frontrunners to declare their candidacy. Mayor Jack Young, former mayor Sheila Dixon and state Sen. Mary Washington are all considering a run; the Baltimore Sun has reported that former Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith and state Delegate Nick Mosby are also considering getting into the race. 


Scott is considerably younger than most of these potential candidates. 


“It’s my generation’s time to take the mantle, take the baton and take it across the finish line,” he said.


More than a dozen other non-elected officials are officially running for the office, including Democrats Carlmichael “Stokey” Cannady, an activist, and Thiru Vignarajah, the former Deputy Attorney General of Maryland and former candidate for Baltimore City State's Attorney.


There are ten times as many registered Democrats in deep-blue Baltimore than Republicans. Those running for mayor must file their candidacy by January 24; the primary is April 28.

Scott was born and raised in Park Heights. He attended Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School and studied political science at St. Mary's College. At 27, he was elected to represent the 2nd district in 2011 and gained prominence by serving as the chairman of the council’s public safety committee.

After former mayor Catherine Pugh’s resignation amid allegations of self-dealing, then-City Council President Young automatically became mayor and left his seat open. Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton and Scott campaigned for the spot amid their council peers; they unanimously elected Scott in May.

In July, Scott released a sweeping plan designed to change the shape of city government through transparency and accountability. He also redistributed city council committee leadership. 

Scott swings more to the left than some of his more centrist Democratic council peers. He has introduced plastic bag ban legislation and a charter amendment mandating racial equity analysis for urban planning efforts and has called for police reform and a higher minimum wage. 

Scott also appeared on attorney Jim Shea’s 2018 gubernatorial ticket as a lieutenant governor candidate. They ran in a crowded Democratic primary and lost to former national NAACP head Ben Jealous, who recently said he would not run for mayor.

Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.
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