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In the Media: City Council Race Heats Up in Southeast Baltimore; Tuesday's Mayoral Forum

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Baltimore City Hall.

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: A Big-Money, Two-Party Race for City Council Heats Up in Southeast Baltimore

"In Southeast Baltimore, there's a big-money City Council race going on that folks are calling a 'street fight.'

"Three Democratic candidates have raised more than $100,000 — enough to rival the fundraising of some campaigns for mayor. Republicans believe the winner of the April 26 primary has a legitimate shot in November's general election for the first time since the 1940s.

"It's a power struggle to succeed Councilman James B. Kraft, who is leaving the seat after 12 years to seek a judgeship. With nine candidates running, neighbors in the bustling district that includes Little Italy, Fells Point, Canton and Highlandtown say it is not uncommon for multiple campaigns to knock on their door on the same day.

"Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, said money is pouring into the council race in part because the district is an economic center of Baltimore — with more businesses and individuals with higher income than some districts.

"The candidate who emerges from such a competitive race, she said, could become a rising political star.

"'A lot of people who run for City Council and win end up running for state legislature, Congress or even mayor,' Kromer said. 'These donors have a vested interest in using the City Council as a training ground.'"

Full Article

From the Baltimore Sun: DeRay Mckesson Makes Debate Debut as 24 Candidates Take Stage in Baltimore Mayoral Forum

"The more than two dozen candidates running for Baltimore mayor welcomed a new competitor to the debate stage Tuesday at The Belvedere Hotel -- prominent activist DeRay Mckesson, a last-minute addition to the already crowded field.

"Before a packed room of about 300 people, the Mt. Vernon-Belvedere Association and Charles Street Development Corp. hosted the first candidates' forum since the filing deadline to run for mayor about two weeks ago. The forum, with 24 candidates, including 12 Democrats, was the largest to date.

"Among those in attendance were front-runner Sheila Dixon, the former mayor; State Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, who has been polling in second; City Councilmen Carl Stokes and Nick J. Mosby; lawyer Elizabeth Embry; and businessman David L. Warnock.

"Dixon faced some of the toughest questioning of the night. She was forced from office in 2010 amid a corruption probe, and, last week, her campaign finance reports came under scrutiny after she filed multiple amendments, changing the amount of cash she had on hand.

"As for the recent questions concerning her campaign finance filings, Dixon blamed the Democratic party establishment.

"Similarly, Mckesson, a 30-year-old former school administrator who rose to prominence during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, faced tough questions from audience members who viewed him as an outsider.

"'I began my organizing work in this city in 1999 when I was just a teenager," Mckesson said. "I've not been absent.'

"He also pushed back against audience members who accused him of being a pawn of corporate education organizations. "I don't know where this idea that I believe in the privatization of schools comes from?" he asked.

Mckesson pointed to his detailed platform, released last week, which calls for dramatic changes in education and policing in Baltimore.

Full Article

From the Baltimore Sun: Maryland Democrats Have Plan to Restrict Governor on Transportation Decisions

"The Democratic leaders of the General Assembly want to restrict the governor's power to decide what transportation projects to fund.

"Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch threw their support Tuesday behind legislation that would create a process for determining which transportation projects should be priorities.

"The bill would affect all future governors, but is an explicit reaction to Gov. Larry Hogan's decision last summer to shift $1 billion toward highway construction after scrapping the $2.9 billion Red Line through Baltimore. The light rail project had been in planning for more than a decade.

"The leaders said the bill would 'create a new process to objectively screen and score transportation projects based on their anticipated benefits.' It would require the governor to justify decisions that fall outside of that scoring system.

"Busch said such a measure was not needed under previous governors because there were opportunities for legislators and local government to give input. Under Hogan, he said, that changed.

"'There was no discussion, no collaboration,' Busch said. 'They waited to the end of the session to put forward their plan without any input from the General Assembly.'”

Full Article