TGR: Political Analysis of GBBCC Mayoral Forum: Time Will Tell All, Part 1: Brandon Scott vs. Bob Wallace vs. Shannon Wright

By Doni Glover, Publisher
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(BALTIMORE – September 3, 2020) – Last night, the Greater Baltimore Black Chamber of Commerce (GBBCC) held the first forum whereby Baltimore voters got the opportunity to see and hear the three mayoral candidates in the General Election on November 3, 2020. (SEE VIDEO)

On that day, not only will Americans vote for the next US President; we, in the City of Baltimore, must also choose our next mayor.

Granted, Baltimore is a 9-to-1 Democratic city whereby the Democratic nominee from the Primary Election (in this case, City Council President Brandon Scott) is typically the winner in the General Election.

Nonetheless, those who watched the GBBCC forum hosted by former Independent mayoral candidate Josh Harris had the opportunity to see the caliber of our three nominees. In addition to Scott, Bob Wallace (Independent) and Shannon Wright (Republican) were on the Zoom video conference call.

How did it go? Great question.

First up was Scott. Now, although he is expected to pull-off this election without a hitch, last night gave voters an opportunity to get a better understanding of the candidates. Additionally, it gave the candidates a chance to show us who and what they are. They had the opportunity to show us what they are made of. Further, some statements were made that some of us had to note.

Scott showed his youthful energy. I did hear him point a finger or two, and he said that as mayor, he could finally fix some things.

I say, time will tell.

With over a decade of political experience, this time around Scott will have no one to point a finger at because the buck stops with him.

One thing about Scott’s plea last night did get my attention: he mentioned the word “transparency.” This caught my attention because one of his political buddies, former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, used that same word when she first became the city’s top executive. To say the least, her administration was wrought with cloak and dagger moves, such as implementing a $10 million Grand Prix that took money from recs and parks. She also privatized some recreation centers.

To her credit, I guess she could have closed the recs altogether. The shame, though, is that recs saved many of our lives – maybe not hers – but certainly a lot of others did benefit from the recreation centers across the city. But hey, that’s just my North Avenue-centric spin.

To his credit, Scott had an answer for everything … almost.

I think the thing that gets me about Scott is that it seems like he can talk his way out of anything. I find that dangerous because nobody knows everything. No one is an expert on every topic.

What I’m saying is that it’s okay to not know all of the answers. So, when I meet a person that knows everything, I become very cautious.

Also to Scott’s credit, he was aware that vendors (doing business with the City) are too slow to get paid and that the City has to do better. He stated that the current procurement system “doesn’t work” and that a city with a multi-billion dollar budget must be better equipped for the 21st century. I agree with Scott in that there needs to be more than three people in the City’s Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) office that was headed by Tamara Brown. He noted that the City should consider tapping the Rainy Day Fund and push grant and loan programs so as to help minority vendors.

I must say I was proud to hear him talk so confidently about his family’s business, Coldspring Comapny, Inc. (an air-condition, heating and refrigeration firm), and I really appreciated how he understood the needs of such Black business owners. He also demonstrated that he was familiar with the challenges of running a family business and also how important that business is to its employees.

Scott said that he’d like to see an office dedicated solely to contract compliance. I can appreciate that, too. I also appreciate his candor in stating that prime contractors who do not do right by Black and minority subcontractors ought to be “punished” for non-compliance. In the real world, however, companies that donate to a candidate’s campaign do have expectations.

For the uninitiated, prime contractors (who are quite often white) have a poor track record (in my opinion) when it comes to paying subcontractors (who are quite often Black).

Previous mayors, like Martin O’Malley, pushed MBE opportunities and made it a priority. Former Governor Robert Ehrlich also made it a priority. However, as of late, support for MBE’s is a rarely discussed topic.

“Pay people or don’t do business with the City,” said Scott. I have to say, I like the rhetoric. Now, will it actually happen? Will Scott actually punish companies like Spiniello, a firm that gets hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts from the City of Baltimore? Only time, my friend, will tell.

I enjoyed hearing Scott espouse the need to support Black businesses and how the community’s success is inextricably tied to the success of Black businesses. I appreciated hearing that because I, too, grew up in a family business and have come to thoroughly appreciate their contributions to our society.

“If you cannot be about racial equity, don’t work here,” said Scott. He added, “Baltimore cannot afford another traditional administration.”

So, in conclusion, Scott knows the right things to say. What remains to be seen, if he wins, is how he will go about bringing the City of Baltimore up to speed and more technologically efficient.

For a young man, I think he held his own. I also think he has some things to learn. Again, time will tell.

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