Will Baltimore gain a gay City Council member? Could it gain two?
As the Washington Blade reports, there are two gay black men running for Baltimore’s City Council in June 2’s primary election. Akil Patterson is running for Councilmember Shannon Sneed’s 13th District seat while Sneed is running for the Council’s presidential position. Meanwhile, Phillip Westry, a lawyer who works for nonprofit organizations like the Maryland Center for Legal Assistance, is running for the 12th District seat against incumbent Robert Stokes.
For Patterson, there’s already been a great amount of support swinging his way. Pennsylvania state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, Jason Collins, the first professional American athlete to come out as gay, Councilmember Eric Costello, State Senator Mary Washington, the LGBTQ Victory Fund, and Progressive Maryland have all announced their support of Patterson’s campaign.
In addition, the campaign’s finance reports state that Patterson has raised $65,269.20 since the start of 2019.
“Out of all the candidates in the district we have the most endorsements and raised the most money,” said the campaign. “We have done this by running on a progressive platform that addresses crime, poverty, transparency and social determinants of health.”
But what are his key issues? Patterson has been running on a platform to fix East Baltimore’s poor transportation system. He believes the lack of transportation services has led to the community being out of reach from steady jobs. In addition, he wants to fight for alternative policies that remove wasteful spending and supports grassroots organizations focused on community-based initiatives. His campaign has also expressed interest in bettering Baltimore’s education system and the reduction of concentrated poverty.
As for Westry, he has been supported by several organizations based in law and human rights like The Victory Fund, Progressive Maryland, and the AFL-CIO Baltimore Metro Council. In addition, Maryland State Del. Maggie McIntosh and Council President Brandon Scott have voiced their support.
“Phillip Westry has been working in our community for a long time, making a real difference for Baltimore’s working families as a public interest attorney,” said McIntosh in a press release back in April. “He has the right values and experience to represent us well on the City Council.”
Westry’s campaign has similar stances as Patterson’s. The key issues in Westry’s campaign are Housing, Transportation, and Education. Interest in these three situations comes from Wesry’s experience as a public interest attorney. He regularly fought to keep people in their homes and educate them about the foreclosure process, landlord/tenant laws, debt collection, and more.
Though, Westry has also vocalized his disdain for his political opponent.
“We built a robust grassroots campaign to unseat a deeply entrenched and, by many accounts, absentee councilmember who stands in the way of meaningful progress on a host of issues at a critical moment for our city,” said Westry. “In this time of crisis, we need our representatives at all levels of government to be present and to lead.”
But will these two men win their respective races on June 2nd? We’ll see in a couple days.