Meet the Democratic primary candidates

By Bill Hamilton
With early voting just a couple of weeks away, Bolton Hill residents voting in the June 26 closed Democratic primary have a wide range of choices for representation in Annapolis for the coming four years.
In Legislative District 40, in addition to a contested race for the state senate, voters will select three nominees for the state House of Delegates from 13 candidates who will appear on the ballot. The sliver of Bolton Hill voters in Legislative District 44-A have only Democratic incumbent Delegate Keith Haynes on the ballot, who is running unopposed by either Democratic or Republican candidates.

You can find out more about the candidates by watching this hour-long video of some of the candidates appearing at a candidate forum in April, or read the complete responses to the Baltimore Sun candidate questionnaire.
Although not formally a slate, Gabriel Auteri, Terrell Boston-Smith, and Melissa Wells are working together in support of one another as well as Delegate Antonio Hayes, who is running against Senator Barbara Robinson in the state Senate race.  All three candidates appeared at a reception in May at the Bolton Square home of Steve and Monty Howard (co-hosted by Bill and Stacy Wells). They said they hope to replace Hayes and the two other incumbents, Nick Mosby and Frank Conaway, Jr. Here is a little more about each of these candidates:

Gabriel Auteri, 31, is a native of New Jersey and is a lawyer serving as part of the staff of City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. He is a former high school history teacher and a graduate of Drew University in New Jersey and American University law school in DC. He is an advocate for affordable housing and reducing vacant housing in Baltimore, as well as an improved health system that makes health and behavioral treatment services readily available to all. He lives near Hollins Market.

Terrell Boston-Smith, 36, is a native of West Baltimore and a graduate of local public schools including Mt. Royal Middle School and City College High School. He is a political consultant associated with state Attorney General Brian Frosh and has been endorsed by several unions.  One of his top priorities is healthy and safe lives for senior Baltimoreans.

Melissa Wells, 34, is a construction union official and advocate for more and better apprenticeship programs for young Baltimoreans. She is a resident of Charles Village and a Baltimore native who graduated from American University in DC. She says the state and City need to do a better job of tying local development to local companies, especially when subsidized with local tax dollars. It makes no sense when publicly supported development projects are contracted to out-of-state companies with no ties to the community, she says.

And here is information about the incumbents:

Frank M. Conaway Jr., 53, is a Baltimore native. He has served in the House of Delegates since winning election in 2006 as a member of a family dynasty that has held political office in the City since the 1960s.  While in office, Conaway has sponsored a number of bills aimed at policing and public safety. In 2014, Conaway was the first Maryland legislator to sponsor a bill requiring body-worn cameras for police officers. In 2014, the Baltimore Afro-American reported on the dozens of controversial YouTube videos produced by Conaway on subjects ranging from the Book of Revelations to the Rubik’s Cube and revealed that he also sold his own books from the mailroom of Baltimore’s Municipal Post Office, where he was employed. He resigned from that job in 2014.

Nick Mosby, 39, is a Reservoir Hill resident and a former City councilman. He also campaigned briefly in 2016 as a candidate for mayor.  He is married to State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Mosby was appointed to the House of Delegates in 2017 at the recommendation of the Mayor Pugh after he dropped his candidacy and endorsed her. He is a Baltimore native and has an engineering degree from the Tuskegee Institute. His campaign is focusing on issues similar to those he sought to address as a councilman: education, lead paint poisoning, public safety and economic development. He is endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters.

At least two candidates live in Bolton Hill:

Sarah Matthews, 66, is a resident of Linden Park Apartments on McMechen Street and is a former member of the Baltimore Democratic Central Committee. She is an advocate for senior citizens, focusing on the need to clarify the rights of grandparents to visit and support their grandchildren and on violence against seniors. A Chicago native, Matthews has been active in tenants’ rights issues. She has been an adjunct professor at Coppin State University and Baltimore City Community College.

Sanjay Thomas, 34, is a lifelong Marylander, a lawyer, and an insurance agent. He is serving as an elder of his church, where he also helped form and lead The Real Word, a youth community service organization. He has degrees in finance and economics from the University of Maryland at College Park, and earned his J.D. from Washington and Lee University. He served as a law clerk at the Circuit Court for Baltimore City for judge George L. Russell III, and later served a policy analyst with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Other candidates:
Anees Abdul-Raman, 63, is founder and director of the Al Tawhid Counseling Network. According to, he is a barber and cosmetologist. He attended Hagerstown High School and studied at Essex Community College in Baltimore County.  His key issues are livable wage job creation and reducing crime and the murder rate.
Blair DuCray  has lived in many parts of the country and, according to Linked In, has worked four years  in Baltimore as a data manager for Penguin Random House.  Before that he lived and worked in New Jersey. He is working toward a degree in software development from University of Maryland University College. He lives in Central Baltimore and is active in the City Center Residents Association and Westminster Center of Shalom. His campaign theme is “Empowering Baltimore Together.”
Latia Hopkins, 29, is Baltimore-born and bred, but her student activism led to her becoming president of the Frostburg State College Democrats and active in Allegheny County politics.  She has a BA and master’s degree in education from Frostburg and has been active in several Maryland campaigns. She is the Mid-Atlantic regional director for Young Democrats of America, and calls for healing the wounds inside the Democratic Party. “We must turn our fight to the other party as if lives depend on it because the reality is that lives really are at stake,” she writes.
Brian Murphy, 48, is a Hampden resident, husband of a public school teacher and father of a public high school student. He calls himself a progressive Democrat with 20 years of fixing government problems.  He works as a private contractor in information technology. He advocates systemic change for Baltimore public schools and the criminal justice system.
Westley West,  30, is a West Baltimore native, graduate of Douglass High School, minister, and activist who gained visibility leading protests during the 2015 Freddie Gray uprising. A former Green Party candidate, he is Founding Pastor of Faith Empowered Ministries and lives in the Bentalou neighborhood in southwest Baltimore. He is Director of Youth for the Baltimore branch of the Nation Action Network, founded by Rev. Al Sharpton. His primary focus is on public education and what he says is the school system’s failure to serve Baltimore children.
Timothy Mercer filed as a candidate but does not seem to have a website, nor did he respond to the Baltimore Sun questionnaire. According to the Baltimore Afro-American, Mercer is a contractor who has run unsuccessfully for multiple Baltimore elected offices.