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Zeke Cohen has clinched the Democratic nomination for Baltimore City Council President

Zeke Cohen hugs a supporter on election night, May 14, 2024. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)
Ulysses Muñoz
The Baltimore Banner
Zeke Cohen hugs a supporter on election night, May 14, 2024.

A sea of purple engulfed both floors of the Darker Than Blue Grille in downtown Baltimore Tuesday night, as supporters clad in Zeke Cohen's signature t-shirts cheered his victory. The ecstatic crowd, including volunteers and family members, erupted into jubilant celebrations, jumping with joy when election officials announced his clinch to victory.

The seasoned first district councilman won the three-way race with almost 50% of the vote. “This is what we get for knocking on 30,000 doors across the city,” yelled a campaign staffer from the back of the room.

Standing at the podium, Cohen outlined his vision for the future. When I become city council president—” he said bashfully.

“You are!” bellowed Judge Wanda Heard, an endorser.

“When I’m sworn in as council president,” Cohen said assuredly. “The City Council will be a legislative body that makes people feel proud. We will not be ruled by petty grievance but by a commitment to truth, justice, excellence and equity.”

Cohen outlined lofty goals such as increasing community policing and support for teachers and children. Legally, only the school board and the mayor have direct authority over Baltimore City Public Schools.

Despite the legal limitations on influencing Baltimore City Public Schools' leadership, teachers, a key demographic in Cohen's diverse coalition, expressed their support at the victory party. The Baltimore Teachers Union has endorsed Cohen. Peter Kannama, principal of Henderson-Hopkins, was among the educators in the crowd.

“As a former teacher, he understands what our children and our families need,” said Kannama. “He's done incredible work. I've watched him start a nonprofit. And he gets things done. He doesn't just talk, he gets things done. He's going to be a great city council president.”

State’s Attorney Ivan Bates, City Comptroller Bill Henry and several city council members attended the celebration in support. “It took all of us working together to get here,” said Cohen. “We can’t lose that energy. This isn’t about me, it’s about the city of Baltimore.”

Cohen faces Emmanuel Digman, the Republican nominee, in November’s general election.

Wambui Kamau is a General Assignment Reporter for WYPR. @WkThee