Scott Names Transition Team Leaders as Foe’s Poll Shows Tightening Mayoral Election

Baltimore City Hall. File photo.

Baltimore City Council President Brandon M. Scott, the Democratic nominee for mayor, released a list Tuesday of the nine leaders of his transition team.

The announcement came at the same time Scott’s principal general election opponent, businessman Robert Wallace, who is running as an independent, released a poll showing the race is tightening. A poll conducted for Scott’s campaign in September showed the Democrat with a 51-point lead, but Wallace’s poll, taken earlier this month following weeks of heavy spending by Wallace, showed Scott ahead by just 8 points.

Wherever the race stands, Scott is proceeding with his transition effort, and said the nine transition co-chairs planned to meet before the end of the month.

“Building a new way forward for Baltimore will require us to come together like never before and advance innovative solutions to our deepest challenges,” he said in a statement. “These nine people, representing multiple sectors and communities, believe in Baltimore’s potential and are not afraid to think outside the box.”

The nine co-chairs of the transition will be:

  • Mike Hankin, president and CEO of Brown Advisory, an investment firm, who has worked with an array of community groups and is associated with environmental justice causes.
  • Ricarra Jones, political director of 1199 SEIU, the largest health care union in the country. Jones has been associated with fights to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 and bring earned sick leave to full-time employees. She serves on the boards of the MD/DC AFL-CIO, Baltimore Women United and the Baltimore City Branch of the NAACP.
  • State Sen. Cory V. McCray (D), who represents the 45th District in East Baltimore and is one of Scott’s closest friends and advisers. A former member of the House of Delegates, McCray is a lifelong member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
  • Wes Moore, author and CEO of Robin Hood, the anti-poverty organization. A military veteran, Moore was also the founder and CEO at BridgeEdU, a tech platform based in Baltimore addressing college completion and job placement issues.
  • Cassie Motz, executive director of the CollegeBound Foundation. Motz served in several roles under former Gov. Martin J. O’Malley (D), including as deputy chief of staff, deputy legal counsel and interim director of the Governor’s Office for Children. She also  served on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents in 2014 and 2015.
  • Torrey Smith, retired football player. Smith is a former wide receiver for the Baltimore Ravens who played college football at the University of Maryland. He and his wife Chanel founded the Torrey Smith Family Foundation, which focuses on at-risk youth with physical, educational and financial challenges, and to help victims of domestic violence.
  • Danielle Torain, director of OSI-Baltimore. Torain previously worked in the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, where she led a citywide initiative to strengthen systems of support for incarcerated youth, and worked on local jobs programs with the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development. She was senior director of strategy and development at the Center for Urban Families, and spent four years at the Annie E. Casey Foundations’ Baltimore Civic Site.
  • Alicia Wilson, vice president for economic development at Johns Hopkins University. Another longtime member of Scott’s kitchen cabinet, Wilson previously served as the senior vice president of impact investments and senior legal counsel for the Port Covington Development Team. Wilson also held a partnership position at the law firm of Gordon Feinblatt for eight years.
  • Brittany Young, founder and CEO of B-360, which utilizes dirt bike culture to end the cycle of poverty, disrupt the prison pipeline, and build bridges in communities.

“They will collectively bring a strong focus on building a more equitable Baltimore not just for the next term, but for the future of our city,” Scott said.

But is the mayoral election tightening to the point of discomfort for the Democratic frontrunner?

A poll taken for Wallace’s campaign on Oct. 1 and 2 showed Scott with 43% to Wallace’s 35%, with 16% undecided. Republican Shannon Wright is also in the race.

The poll of 380 likely voters, conducted by Burton Research & Strategies, had a 5-point margin of error.

Wallace, a former Republican, has spent liberally on the race in recent weeks ― the latest round of campaign finance reports, due Friday, will reveal just how much of his own money he has laid out. But the candidate was claiming momentum Tuesday.

“This is a historic moment for the citizens of Baltimore as their vote next month can help drive the necessary change our city desperately needs this election,” Wallace said in a statement.

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Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.