A poll published in the Baltimore Sun this month showed that a third of Democrats and 42 percent of Republicans were undecided how to vote in next month’s party gubernatorial primaries, even though the combined 15 candidates for governor have spent millions trying to reach voters through social media, print and broadcast advertising, campaign stunts and in-person events.
So, the question arises: how much do you know and who are you voting for in down-ballot elections here? Who is your candidate for Register of Wills, for example, or for Baltimore city sheriff? Those races are on the ballot, as are citywide candidacies for circuit court judge and orphan’s court judges and the non-partisan city board of education? Except for the state’s attorney race, where Marilyn Mosby’s misbehavior, or bravery, has been hard to ignore, most of us are hard-pressed to even name the candidates.
Local media don’t cover local elections, leaving the burden on voters to figure out when and where to vote, and for whom. The Sun publishes an incomplete voters’ guide. The League of Women Voters 411 Voter Guide is better. Bolton Hill voters will help nominate – and in heavily Democratic Baltimore the Democratic nominees usually prevail in November general elections – a state senator and three state assembly delegates.
Unless you are a major donor or lead a big membership organization, your impact on a statewide official likely will be small. It is local district politics where an ordinary voter can make a difference. The redrawn 40th state legislative district with about 43,000 residents consolidates all of Bolton Hill and encompasses neighborhoods east of Hilton Parkway – Harlem Park, Walbrook, Mondawmin, Easterwood, Penn North and Reservoir Hill as well as Lower Park Heights, Park Circle, Woodberry, Mayfield and Hampden.
Voter registration is open until Tuesday, June 28. Early voting begins on June 28. Two early voting sites near Bolton Hill are the University of Maryland Engagement Center at 16 S. Poppleton Street and Frederick Douglass High School at 2301 Gwynns Falls Parkway (across from Mondawmin Mall). In-person voting takes place on Tuesday, July 19. To find your polling place, click here.
Who are the candidates for the General Assembly, where property, fuel and income taxes, state grant allocations and laws governing crime, employment, childcare, public education, abortion and other issues directly impacting our neighborhood are made?
Our current state senator, Antonio Hayes, 45, defeated an incumbent in the Democratic primary four years ago after a term in the House of Delegates and has been highly visible as a first-time senator, sending out regular newsletters and aggressively fundraising for re-election. He has no primary opposition. He has assembled a re-election slate with two incumbent delegates, Marlon Amprey and Melissa Wells, excluding the other delegate, Frank M. Conaway Jr. A veteran of city government, Hayes also is employed by the city’s Department of Social Services. He is a graduate of Frostburg State University. He and his wife live in West Baltimore and have a new son.
The sole Republican primary candidate for that senate seat is Christopher Anderson, 52, a Coast Guard veteran and substance abuse technician and Christian activist who attended Baltimore City Community College. His top priority, he says, is combating opioid addiction, cutting the inheritance tax and overhauling city schools. He lives in Sandtown.
There are seven Democratic candidates vying for the 40th District’s three House of Delegates seats. Three of them made brief appearances at the June BHCA meeting. Four years ago, in a similarly crowded race the top vote-getter won with only 14 percent of the vote. Each voter selects three choices.
Amprey, 35, is the newest incumbent. He was appointed to the job with only four votes from the Democratic Central Committee in 2021 when then-Del. Nick Mosby left to become city council president. Amprey is an attorney, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and a former teacher in city schools. He and his wife live in Hampden with their toddler daughter.
Wells, 38, elected four years ago, is a construction union official, a resident of Charles Center and a Baltimore native who graduated and holds a master’s degree in public policy from American University. She supports legislation that provides homeowners support to pay their property taxes by protecting them from tax sale; expansion of earned income tax credit and child tax credits, as well as the recently passed childcare assistance. She also advocates for urban agriculture.
Conaway, 59, has served in the General Assembly since 2006 and is part of a West Baltimore family that has held a wide array of elected and appointed government positions over half a century. He is a business graduate of the now-defunct Sojourner-Douglass college and the author of two quasi-religious books. He is not active on the Internet, nor has he responded to voter questionnaires.
Cameron Green, Sr., 29, is an education consultant who wants to end the achievement gap in Maryland schools. Since 2017 has worked with DC and Maryland high school families through The College Bound Foundation and College Board. One of five children raised by a single mother and an alumnus of Baltimore city schools, he now is a father of two boys and a graduate of Texas Southern University with a communications degree. He lives in Poppleton. On his website he notes: “Green’s love for family and fear of God has guided his decisions made both professionally and personally throughout his life,” citing Romans 8:28. “I’m running because I believe through faith all things are possible and that our neighbors deserve someone that will be their trusted voice in Annapolis.”
Crystal Jackson Parker lives on West North Avenue and was recently widowed. A longtime activist in West Baltimore, her grandsons attend Edgewood Elementary, and her granddaughter is at Parkville Middle School. She is a Cornell University graduate with a law degree from the University of Baltimore. She says, “The lack of urgency to respond to a failing school system, disinvestment, drugs and guns as a solution to socio-economic disparities and psychological despair are all indicators that the city government at the current time has not done much well.” She says the state should provide oversight and promote “an equitable distribution of services and response throughout the city.”
Kathy Shulman, 62, is a resident of Wyman Park and runs a non-profit called Healthy Food Access. She is a consultant to St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore on food issues and social justice. Her top issues are public safety, livable wage jobs, public education, housing and nutrition. She has been endorsed by several large unions and by her city council member, Odette Ramos. Earlier she served as executive director of the Public Justice Center and the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism. She is a graduate of Brown University with an MPA from Princeton, and a stepmother and grandmother.
Juanika Snell, 40, is a Reservoir Hill resident. She describes herself as a mother and grandmother of one, a lifelong resident of Baltimore and a graduate of city public schools. She says her top priority if elected will be reducing crime. “The amount of crime in our city is overwhelming. I think that big changes start with smaller improvements. My hope is to implement those small improvements in District 40. “
The sole candidate for delegate in the Republican primary is Zulieka A. Baysmore, 63, an insurance agent with 32 years’ experience in financial services. She is former candidate for mayor who lives in Madison Park. She lists crime and public education as her top priorities. She also supports lower property taxes, increasing the minimum wage and putting certification programs back in public schools for job readiness. Baysmore is married to a former boxing champion and is a mother of three adult children with three grandchildren. Without naming him specifically, she is critical of Democratic Del. Conaway, who she said is among those who have turned a blind eye, by not holding city leaders accountable for the millions of tax dollars “that have been wasted and not invested in the people nor the area over the past decade.”
– Bill Hamilton