Brandon Scott eyes the future

Mayor-elect Brandon Scott
Mayor-elect Brandon Scott (Courtesy of the Brandon Scott campaign)

Baltimore will soon have a new mayor in current city Council President Brandon M. Scott, following the results of the 2020 election. At 36 years old, he will be one of the five youngest mayors the city has ever had, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Addressing supporters after his victory, Scott said, “I am proud, energized and humbled by your belief in me and what we can accomplish together.” Scott drew attention to what he called the record high voter turnout in the city of Baltimore, the state of Maryland and across the country. He thanked the people of Baltimore for voting and the election workers who braved the dangers of a pandemic to “make democracy work.”

“When we started this campaign over a year ago, some people thought I was crazy,” Scott said. “Some did not believe we could run a campaign against the status quo in Baltimore City and win.

“But Baltimore,” Scott continued, “you voted for change. You have spoken loud and clear to end business as usual in city hall.”

Brandon Scott, the man

Mayor-elect Brandon Scott
Mayor-elect Brandon Scott (Courtesy of the Brandon Scott campaign)

Marvin James, who served as campaign director and advisor to the Scott campaign, said Scott’s victory can be attributed to his policy plans, his ability to turn out the vote and his talent for coalition building.

“Women, faith groups, unions, minority groups, teachers, educators, frontline workers, those were the coalitions that we built throughout the entire campaign and helped lift the council president to victory,” James said.

In his victory address, Scott spoke of the gratitude he felt toward his grandparents, who escaped rural poverty in Virginia to find a better opportunity in the community of Baltimore.

“My mother and father worked hard to provide a good life for me and my brothers, no matter what,” Scott said. “They taught me what it means to be accountable to my family and to my community. They stood by me, always, just as I will work every day to stand by you.”

James described Scott as “someone who absolutely does not take excuses. He believes in doing the right thing, even when it is costly to him.”

Priorities as mayor

When asked what the mayor-elect’s top priorities would be, James said that the Scott campaign has been listening to the concerns of Baltimore residents regarding public safety, the education system and economic development.

In a press release following its victory, the Scott campaign announced the formation of a nine-person steering committee that will work with the mayor-elect to guide the transition process. Members of the committee include Mike Hankin, president and CEO of Brown Advisory; state Sen. Cory McCray; Wes Moore, author and CEO of Robin Hood; Torrey Smith, retired Baltimore Ravens receiver and philanthropist; and Alicia Wilson, vice president for economic development at Johns Hopkins.

The priorities of the transition committee will include reimagining public safety and accountability, strengthening neighborhoods and businesses, ensuring fiscal stability and innovation and expanding educational and recreational opportunities for the city’s youth.

“Brandon represents very much the central idealism that Baltimore is really on the cusp of a renaissance, and really believes that with people who are ethical, who are integrous, who have great character, will help pull Baltimore really into the 21st century,” James said.

Relationship with Jewish community

Marc B. Terrill, president of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, said that “Over the years, I have known Mayor-elect Brandon Scott to be someone who cares deeply about the future of our city,” and that he is “ looking forward to the opportunity to working with him and his team to strengthen our Baltimore community for all of its residents.”

Howard Libit, the executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, said in an interview prior to the election that Scott has a long relationship with the Jewish community, having grown up in Park Heights and having worked in city government and on the City Council for years. Scott has been a speaker at BJC events, such as at its annual meeting in June, its teen social justice summit at Loyola University in March 2019 and a November 2019 event on bridging the gaps between Park Heights communities.

Scott, Libit said, was sensitive to the community’s needs and responsive when the BJC wished to discuss issues with him. Libit noted that both the BJC and Scott enthusiastically supported the redevelopment of the Pimlico and Park Heights areas, and mentioned the conversations they’d had on reversing crime trends in the city.

“Personally I consider him to be a friend,” Libit said, “and a terrific leader and advocate for the city.”

Libit pointed to Scott’s professional partnership with Councilman Yitzy Schleifer as a clear example of the mayor-elect’s ties to the community, and fully expected Scott to deepen those ties in the event of his campaign victory.

Libit hoped that Scott would prioritize crime reduction, redeveloping the Pimlico Race Course property, finding a new use for the public safety training facility in Northwest Baltimore and finding a way for the city to recover from the pandemic.

James also pointed to Schleifer’s endorsement of Scott as evidence of the mayor-elect’s ties to the community, as well as the prior endorsement of Scott’s campaign by Rabbi Sheftel Meir Neuberger, president of Ner Israel Rabbinical College.

“The council president is going to look forward to having a working relationship with the Jewish community,” James said, adding that Scott “absolutely values who they are to Baltimore, what they bring to Baltimore and that Baltimore only does better when all of our communities thrive.”

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