Even at this last minute, voters seemed conflicted today about whom they favored as Baltimore’s next mayor, with Sheila Dixon weighing heavily on the minds of some at in-person polling stations.
Takeshia Barnes, waiting to vote at the University of Maryland’s Engagement Center, said she supported Brandon Scott, the current City Council president, because of his youth and his willingness to interact with the community.
“We haven’t had a young mayor in a while or ever, and he’s been doing a lot of ground work with the community and young people specifically,” the 26-year-old from Franklin Square said. “Not to dismiss other residents, but young people are the future and have the willpower to move the city forward.”
Several other voters said they planned to vote for Dixon, but declined to go on the record about it. Still others said they were staunchly against Dixon and expressed surprise that she is able to campaign for office after her conviction for misappropriation of gift cards a decade ago.
“I can’t let that slide. I think it’s insulting that you can even run after something like that happened,” 34-year-old Charles Village resident Paul Rigby said.
“What does that say about the city, if you’re OK with that happening?”
Wavering Before Voting
Although Barnes initially named Scott as the person she would vote for, she then said she was conflicted – unsure if she would switch inside the voting booth and pick Dixon instead.
Barnes cited Dixon’s lower crime rate when she was mayor and her background of living in the city as reasons why she was considering voting for her.
“She’s very tangible and relatable,” Barnes said. “After everything happened with the gift cards, she could have gone and hid in a hole somewhere. But instead she’s out on the forefront, wanting to do things the right way.”
A 22-year-old nurse from Patterson Park also voiced support for Dixon, saying no politician is perfect and that she values Dixon’s prior experience as mayor.
“I think being the mayor in the past will allow her to get more done now,” she said.
Several voters said they were still undecided as they approached the voting booth. Kristen Washington said she was split between Dixon and former Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith.
“I read about T.J.’s campaign against the violence that’s happening and how to help out the poor. I think his experience in the police department would be beneficial,” said Washington, a 30-year-old nursing home worker from northeast Baltimore.
Crime was the subject that voters brought up as the most important for the new mayor to tackle, with several adding that there has to be more money invested in schools to reduce drug-related crimes.
Rosemary Koontz, a 73-year-old resident from Roland Park, said she planned to vote for Mary Miller because of her plan to reduce violent crime in the city.
“She talks about opportunity a lot – that everyone should have equal opportunities, especially for education,” Koontz said approvingly.