Photo by Brandon Soderberg

Next to his childhood home in Park Heights, standing in the spot where his parents first met, City Council president Brandon Scott announced he is running for mayor of Baltimore City.

“At this pivotal moment, it could not be more clear: Our city needs a transformational leader to lead us from the ashes of 2015 to to the rebirth of a greater Baltimore. It will not be easy,” Scott said. “This transformational leader must understand Baltimore and its government from top to bottom, inside and out. That leader must be prepared to look at the city with a constructively critical eye to bring peace to our streets, increase accountability, and improve services.” 

Scott’s mayoral run has seemed like an inevitability for more than a year now and so, this morning’s event, which was small—or “intimate” as they like to say in politics—was less about announcement and more about making a case for his campaign. He countered concerns about his relative youth by pointing out how often the older generation demands the younger generation get involved (and implicitly, often, in the next breath, tell the younger generation they don’t know what they are talking about).

“My entire life I have heard from our elders that they can’t wait for my generation to produce the leader that is ready to take the reins and stand on their shoulders and take them to higher heights, I am that leader,” Scott said.

Elected to represent District 2 in 2010 at 27, Scott has grown into the beloved progressive moderate of Baltimore: cofounding the 300 Men March and then it seems, wisely distancing himself somewhat from it over the years; stressing a public health approach to violence; trying his darndest to meet police in the middle on reforms as chair of the Public Safety Committee; and just coming off driven and pragmatic, which is pretty good in a city of craven, ineffectual Democrats. He unequivocally supports cannabis legalisation. He wore a Colin Kaepernick jersey to a council meeting back in 2017. In last year’s documentary “Charm City,” he was one of its stars, discussing gun violence as it pertains public health, pulling over to the side of the road to call “The Tom Hall Show” in one scene, and doing his morning jog with OutKast in his headphones in another. 

Many progressives are skeptical of Scott’s “transformational” claims. After all, he voted for Port Covington, sponsored the youth curfew, was a big proponent of former Commissioner Daryl De Sousa, and some say, he half-steps, for a while acting as a counter to councilperson Ryan Dorsey’s scorched earth approach, saying essentially the same thing sometimes, just a little nicer. In 2018, he ran as Jim Shea’s Lieutenant Governor who lost to Ben Jealous.

Amid the “Healthy Holly” scandal though, Scott stood out as a practical voice, a leader by default. He was the councilperson who gathered the rest of council together to sign a letter calling for Pugh’s resignation and since he has become council president, introduced an ambitious plan for Baltimore which among other things, wants to reduce the voting age to 16, make Baltimore Police a city agency rather than a state-run agency, end “gag” orders for victims of police brutality, and more. 

Around the time that Pugh resigned, Scott told the Beat he still was considering a run but had not confirmed anything: “The time to have that discussion about my next steps and what I’m going to be doing and what I’m going to be running for—it’s not the day,” Scott said. 

Following Pugh’s resignation, then-council president Jack Young became mayor and Scott was elected council president—over presumed pick for council president, Sharon Middleton. City Hall murmurs said Young was furious at Scott, who jumped ahead and was supposedly too young to be gunning for council president (precisely the kind of ingrained, logrolling politics that doom this city, by way). The Baltimore Sun later reported Young said, “he had a deal with Sharon Middleton,” about the position. One can only imagine what Young thinks of Scott now.

Now, some game theory—and some speculation. Scott’s announcement finally puts next year’s mayoral election into focus. It seems imminent that Young will run and rumors that Dixon is going to run persist. On Thursday, the Afro reported that councilperson Shannon Sneed will be running for council president. The Baltimore Brew has reported that Young and councilperson Eric Costello are considering running together, for mayor and council president. There are at least a couple of other councilmembers considering running for council president too, so the council itself is going to be shaken up.

A staid Young/Costello “ticket” vs. a progressive Scott/Sneed “ticket” would at least make a less diffuse election. Perhaps, we can avoid 2016’s cacophony of candidates which sent voters to the middle and left us with Pugh’s disastrous two years until she was finally felled by her janky children’s books and the hundreds of thousands of bucks she made off of them.

Last night, Scott released a video that is pretty much a “get to know Brandon Scott” mayoral ad. With shout outs to Mervo and a quick dissection of infamous shooting spot “the Ranch” near where he grew up, it was a campaign ad in all of the ways except ending with the words “Vote Brandon Scott for mayor.” Not long after its release, Luke Broadwater of the Sun confirmed Scott’s run. 

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

There was only one question for Scott this morning and it came from Sinclair-owned Fox45 who, after Scott spent significant time during his speech stressing a desire for audits and other forms of accountability, asked about a group of private citizens who want to pay for a city audit themselves (as if this something anyone other than Sinclair is talking about).

Scott told Fox45 he’d be willing to meet with these citizens whenever they wanted—a suave mayor-ish way of letting a loaded, ridiculous question down easy.

Afterward, Scott shook hands and posed for photos, Scott’s mother dashed all around despite a hurt foot, excited, shouting “I love you,” to her son, and the Brandon Scott For Mayor team joshed one another about all of the work ahead—and everyone wondered who is gonna announce their run next.

Brandon Soderberg was the Director Of Operations and is a cofounder of Baltimore Beat. He is the coauthor of the book I Got a Monster. Previously, he was editor-in-chief of Baltimore City Paper. His work...