Voters sent a strong message tonight to Baltimore City Hall, approving term limits for city officeholders by a wide margin.
Question K – an amendment to the city charter which would restrict the mayor, City Council members and comptroller to two consecutive terms – was approved by a 3-1 margin, with about 60% of precincts reporting.
Voters embraced the term limits measure despite the fact that, as opponents stressed, it was written by a political action committee funded by the conservative owner of Sinclair Broadcast Group.
“I like the concept of giving more people a chance to run,” said Laura Howard, explaining that she wasn’t troubled by the question’s backers, whose local flagship station is perennially city-bashing WBFF Fox 45.
Howard and several others who cast their votes today at a library in Waverly held views one would would expect in heavily Democratic Baltimore.
Howard, a city school teacher and union member, made sure to vote for school board candidates Salimah Jasani and Ashley Esposito, the candidates endorsed by the Baltimore Teachers Union.
Another voter, a self-employed artist, said he was drawn to vote today not just for Democratic nominee Wes Moore, but against his ultra-right Republican opponent Dan Cox.
“Keeping the Trump-minded people at bay” is how he described his mission.
Regarding Question K, he had heard the warning by critics of the measure, which does not go into effect until 2024. He also knew about the Sinclair executive who had poured more than $500,000 to put K on the ballot.
Still he voted for it.
“It’s better to have new people coming in, to have more turnover. It can’t hurt,” he said before adding, “Well, it could hurt. But we need to keep changing things. Trying things.”
School Board Seats
The non-partisan contest to select two at-large members of the Board of Education was the first time voters have been able to choose school board members.
Of the two candidates who ran on a slate together – Ashley E. Esposito, an activist and prospective city school parent, and Salimah Jasani, a former teacher – only one succeeded.
With almost all precincts reporting, the results were: Ashley Esposito 29%, Kwame Kenyatta-Bey 27%, April Christina Curley 23% and Salimah Jasani 20%.
Along with Question K, all of the other ballot questions were approved. Among them were measures to:
Create a fund for pre-apprenticeship programs in city schools, change the charter so that the Baltimore Police Department is no longer a state agency, and reconfigure the board overseeing the Office of the Inspector General to eliminate members with a potential conflict of interest.
Question E, prohibiting the sale of the city’s underground conduit system to a private entity, was approved 76%-24%.
And statewide Question 4, legalizing the possession of cannabis, was passed by a margin of 65%-35%.
Maryland will now join a growing list – 19 states, including Virginia, three territories and the District of Columbia – that have legalized recreational adult use of the drug.