Baltimore City Council candidate Rita Church says she lives in the district in which she’s running, the 14th, but some are questioning her eligibility because the address listed for her on the State Board of Elections site is in the 13th.
Church is running against Joe Kane and Odette Ramos for the 14th district seat, which will be vacated when longtime Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke retires in 2020.
She says she lives on Harford Road in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood.
“If you knock on the door, I’ll come to the door, or my sister will come to the door,” Church told The Brew. “That’s where I’ve been living for years.”
Church and her family have lived there for 30 years, she said. She grew up less than a block away, on Tivoly Avenue, where her family lived for 25 years.
But the address listed on the State Board of Elections site, on Elmley Avenue, is in the 13th district.
In 2018, Church ran to represent the 45th district in the House of Delegates from the Elmley address, which is, in fact, in the 45th. (She placed seventh in the 2018 Democratic primary.)
Church, 58, said she had to change her address from Harford to Elmley to take care of a family member.
She said that, while she received mail there, she spent most of her time at the house on Harford, which is in the 43rd state legislative district.
When she filed to run for the City Council in July, she listed her residential address at Harford, but her mailing address at Elmley.
A photo she sent The Brew from the day she filed shows the two addresses clearly on her Certificate of Candidacy:
The candidate’s voter registration information also lists the two addresses, one residential and the other for mail.
Ransomware to Blame?
According to the State Board of Elections, a City Council candidate must be a “resident and qualified voter of the district for which you seek office at least 1 year preceding the election.”
Church said she does not know why the state Board of Elections website still lists her at the Elmley address.
She said the mistake might be due to the ransomware attack that hit Baltimore in May that paralyzed many city government computer systems, forcing work to be done in some cases with pen and paper.
Church said she was told at the city Election Board office to go down to Annapolis to file because the computers were still down.
What Election Chief Says
Armstead B.C. Jones, Sr., director of the Baltimore City Board of Elections, said via email that Church is listed at Harford Road.
“Ms. Rita Church is registered at 2826 Harford Road according to our files, which is in the 14th district,” Jones stated in Comic Sans type.
When asked why the address listed online is wrong, Jones replied, in Calibri type, “The information is from our data base that I sent you.”
But Jones hadn’t sent one – it was not in this reporter’s trash or spam folders – and he didn’t reply to an email requesting it.
Church owns the house on Elmley. Stephen Church, the candidate’s brother, owns the house on Harford.
As of today, her address is still listed on the Election Board site as the house at Elmley – in the 13th district.