June 5 marked the official launch of Baltimore City assistant state’s attorney Dalya Attar’s campaign to become one of the new delegates representing District 41. The event took place at the Conference Center at Johns Hopkins Mount Washington and drew more than 100 supporters.
If elected, Attar would become the third Orthodox woman elected to public office in Baltimore and first in the Assembly. Judges Karen Chaya Friedman and Michele Lowenthal are the other two.
“I was born and raised in Baltimore,” Attar said in her event speech. “In fact, I’ve lived in the 41st District my entire life. So first, I am running for office to give back to this great community and city that did so much for my parents and my family. And now, I want to help other families grab the opportunities. But we’re not doing enough.”
Attar is the daughter of immigrants, and she attended Bais Yaakov in Baltimore and worked while attending the University of Maryland School of Law at night. She is now an assistant state’s attorney and married mother of two young children. Since her campaign just launched, she doesn’t yet have an official platform, she told the JT, but her emphasis will be on jobs, education and crime. She believes that the different aspects of her identity will allow her to represent all those in the district.
“I can be a voice for many,” she said. “I speak as a woman, I speak as a mother, and I speak as a professional. I speak as a prosecutor fighting to keep the streets safe. I speak as a daughter of immigrants. I believe we need voices of diversity. We need fresh ideas.”
Attar said she decided to run because she wanted to help fix issues she saw in her district and around the city instead of just complaining about them.
“I wanted to be a lawyer because I always wanted to make a difference, to change something” she told the JT. “And I realized I wanted to do more. My parents live here, my family lives here. I have two young children, and I want them to grow up in a good environment.”
District 41 is represented by Dels. Sandy Rosenberg, Bilal Ali and Angela Gibson and Sen. Nathaniel Oaks, who faces a federal wire fraud charge for using his official letterhead to misrepresent the status of state funding for a project in exchange for money. No one has yet filed for the state senator race while all three delegates have filed for the three delegate spots, along with Attar and Sean Stinnett.
Oaks, Ali and Gibson were appointed to their positions after the reshuffling of the Assembly once Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned to take on her new role, former Sen. Lisa Gladden resigned due to health issues and Del. Jill P. Carter took on a job with Pugh’s administration.
A number of people the JT spoke with mentioned the election of Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer, who is also observant, to Baltimore City Council as giving political momentum to the community. Schleifer himself, who attended the launch event, said he’s more excited to see young people getting involved in politics.
“I don’t think the sect of Judaism matters a lot,” he said. “I think she’s a young mother who understands the struggles families have. And she’s a prosecutor so she understands public safety. She’s in it for the right reasons, and people recognize that.”
There were also a number of other local community leaders at the event supporting Attar, including Linda Batts, who serves with Attar on the Northwestern District Police Community Relations Council.
“Not only did we want to come out and support her, but as members of the same committee we both work on, she has proven herself knowledgeable and dedicated,” Batts said.
The event also drew its fair share of younger people, including Yosef Feldman, 27.
“I saw an article that was shared on Facebook,” he said. “I read it and got interested, and a friend of mine is her cousin and brought me.”
Feldman added that he had not been aware how bad the opioid epidemic had gotten in Baltimore until he read Attar’s comments in that article. He appreciated that she was willing to bring awareness to the issue.