City Council President Brandon Scott announced his 2020 bid for mayor Friday in the Park Heights neighborhood where he grew up, making an urgent case for top-to-bottom change in city government.
Scott, who said he was “tired of seeing the tears of young people who’d lost their classmates” to gun violence, was introduced by Cease Fire founder Erricka Bridgeford. “We must stop the bleeding and address the root causes of gun violence,” the 35-year-old Scott told those gathered. “Baltimore needs a mayor invested in the people of this city, not the status quo.”
In his 10-minute address, Scott reiterated recent proposals and pledges to bring professionalism to city government. “Every agency will be held to performance measures,” Scott said. “There will be a focus on resolving 311 issues.”
By declaring his candidacy, Scott became first elected leader to make a formal entry into the race, which many observers predict will eventually come down to a two-person generational battle between the council president and Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who has given indications he will run, but has not yet declared his intention to seek Baltimore’s highest office next year.
Young, the former council president, became Baltimore’s 51st mayor following former Mayor Catherine Pugh’s resignation earlier this year when she came under fire—and investigation—after receiving more than $800,000 in questionable deals from her Healthy Holly children’s book series. Young had tried to get the council to name Councilwoman Sharon Middleton as his council president successor, but Scott outmaneuvered her for the necessary votes. Young and Scott have been viewed as potential 2020 mayoral rivals ever since with occasional tensions spilling out in public view.
Former Mayor Sheila Dixon, former Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith, state Sen. Jill Carter, state Sen. Mary Washington, and state Del. Nick Mosby are said to be considering a bid for mayor as well. Former Democratic candidate for governor, Ben Jealous, recently told the Baltimore Sun he has ruled out a run for mayor, but is considering running for state’s highest office again. Twelve candidates, none currently elected officials, including four Republicans, have declared themselves candidates for mayor with the State Board of Elections.
First elected at 27, Scott, a subject in last year’s well-received documentary Charm City, was one of the youngest candidates ever elected to citywide office. After growing up in Park Heights, he graduated from Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School and then studied political science and graduated from St. Mary’s College in Southern Maryland. He got his start in politics as a liaison in the office of then-City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
He previously served as chair of the council’s high-profile Public Safety Committee and co-founded the anti-violence group 300 Men March. He has also served as a member of the Budget and Appropriations and Judiciary and Legislative Investigations committees.
Earlier this summer, Scott unveiled a detailed, 29-page legislative and policy proposal highlighting his vision for improving city government, making communities safer, investing in youth, and bringing an equitable framework to governance. He essentially announced his bid with the release of a campaign video earlier this week.
If elected, Scott would be significantly younger than the average U.S. mayor—56, according to a recent study. But the ambitious Scott would be the same age as Martin O’Malley, another ambitious former councilman, when O’Malley ran for mayor and actually possesses several more years of elected experience.
“Brandon is hard-working, there’s no doubt about that, he’s smart, and capable,” former 1st District City Councilman James Kraft, told Baltimore this spring, adding he was not making an endorsement, but expressed confidence in his former colleague’s ability to handle the city’s top job. “He’d also surround himself with smart, good people.”