Local political leaders appear to be putting together the BEST ballot

Scott in as Mayor, Sneed for Council President

With his entry into the 2020 mayoral field, it appears that Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott will be at the top of a ballot that looks to be loaded with members of BEST.

After Scott gave confirmation of his plans to run for the coveted mayoral position late last night, which he plans to officially announce later this morning, it appears that his council colleague, Councilwoman Shannon Sneed, is wasting no time in solidifying her decision to fill the Council President seat Scott will be vacating as he runs for the city’s highest political office.

Both are members of the East Baltimore-based BEST Democratic Club, organized years ago with the intention of getting younger and more energetic individuals involved in the local political process, which started with the election of the group’s co-founder, Senator Cory McCray. And it appears as if McCray’s sister Danielle McCray, or Dani to those who know her, will also play a huge role in the citywide ballot the group appears to be formulating behind closed doors.

McCray, the 34-year old younger sister of State Senator McCray, was appointed to fill the council seat left vacant by Scott earlier this year when he was chosen by his council colleagues to fill the vacant city council president position – which was vacated by current Mayor Bernard ‘Jack’ Young. (I know, that’s a lot of vacating) And while she is gearing up to run for the position outright next year, it appears that only months after being sworn-in as council president, Scott has his sights set on the top spot, deciding to forego what would appear to be a rather easy campaign to win the citywide seat he currently holds.

Scott’s decision to run for mayor instead of council president now leaves a huge question as to who on the council can possibly mount a viable campaign for the citywide position with less than eight months before the April 28th Primary Election. It appears as if Councilwoman Sneed will take on that task, as she is poised to announce her intentions on being the #2 on Scott’s ballot in the coming days, in what is sure to be an exciting race for the council’s next president.

Sneed, a first term council member who came up roughly 42-votes short of the council seat in 2011, stayed determined and wound up winning the 13th council district seat overwhelmingly in 2016. And with her likely to be running citywide, it appears as if BEST will have another one of their own lined up to take Sneed’s seat, with the candidacy of community leader Antonio Glover – who ran twice unsuccessfully for the district’s council seat in 2011 and 2016. And after McCray and the group decided to support Sneed over Glover in 2016, after Glover announced early due to Sneed’s uncertainty over whether or not she would run again; it appears now that they will repay him ten-fold by supporting his candidacy in 2020.

It’s also a given that the BEST ballot will include McCray for the 2nd council district, as well as supporting longtime BEST supporter Phylicia Porter for the vacant 10th council district seat in South Baltimore. The group will certainly be supporting de-facto BEST members from West Baltimore, Councilman Kristerfer Burnett in the 8th district and Councilman John Bullock in the 9th district. However, it appears that Scott’s ballot will also include freshman councilman Isaac ‘Yitzy’ Schleifer for re-election in the 5th district, which will certainly upset many in the African American community in that Northwest Baltimore district.

Scott tipped his hand in supporting Councilman Schleifer earlier this year when he appointed him chairman to the vacant Public Safety Committee, a committee that Scott chaired for years before being elected by his colleagues as council president. That move pissed off several organizations and leaders within the criminal justice community, who complained that Schleifer had no track record or background in criminal justice and has several run-ins with the black community as it relates to issues of public safety. But politically it appears Scott is more focused on garnering the votes of the influential Jewish community – which Schleifer’s inclusion on the ballot will certainly help with – than satisfying the cries of some in the predominately black criminal justice community.

Some are also questioning whether Mayor Young will live up to his earlier promise of running for his old council president seat as opposed to the new position of mayor. However, with Scott all-in for the position Jack currently holds, it’s unlikely Young or his East Baltimore old guard colleagues will allow for Scott to run unopposed for a seat they believe Young is destined for. But with the young 35-year old [Scott] leading the way, it appears as if the BEST ballot being put together will be the youngest collective ticket of candidates ever put before the voters of Baltimore City.

However, the question that remains is: Will the voters of Charm City be ready to take a chance on a young and energetic group of leaders, many of whom having only one-term of political leadership to point to? Or will they decide to stick with the proven entities they have grown to know over the years, as it appears likely that Mayor Young and former mayor Sheila Dixon may be close to entering the race for Mayor themselves?

Only time will tell, but for those of us intrigued by the 2016 wave of young, political leadership that swept into City Hall; we won’t discount the real possibility of these inspiring new politicos making the old guard “true believers” come April 2020.

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