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Citizen Trueheart challenges President Young

P. Kenneth Burns

Bernard “Jack” Young was made Baltimore City Council President by his colleagues in 2010 when then-President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake became the mayor.  Winning his own term in a landslide the following year, Young is running for re-election.

But one person is standing between Young and the Democratic nomination, which in this city is tantamount to being elected; Kim Trueheart.

The winner of the primary will face the winner of the Republican primary – either David Anthony Wiggins or Shannon Wright – and three other candidates in the November general election; Connor Meek of the Green party, Susan Gaztanaga of the Libertarian party and Sharon Black who is running as an independent.

Citizen Trueheart

Trueheart, Young’s only primary challenger, is a regular presence at City Hall; attending council and Board of Estimates meetings.

Outside of City Hall, she helped organize efforts to save the Liberty Rec Center in Forest Park.  When it was learned that Rite Aid Pharmacy held a deed covenant that prevented a Shop Rite Supermarket from being built in Howard Park, she protested at a nearby Rite Aid location.

She’s been called a citizen activist.  But she prefers to be called an “active citizen” and adds anyone can do what she does.

“As a citizen, I can attend city council hearings.  As a citizen, I can attend board meetings at BDC, at the school board, at the finance board,” she says.

The city native traveled the world, serving in the Navy and working for the federal government.  She says she returned to Baltimore in 2010 because she wanted to make the city better.

Trueheart says she joked about challenging Young.  But it stopped being a laughing matter as the Feb. 3 filing deadline approached and she realized Young was about to run un-opposed.

“I went down to the Board of Elections,” she recounts, “and I put $150 on the counter and said ‘it is un-American for an incumbent in this city as dramatically downtrodden as it is that they think they can run un-opposed.’”

If elected, she says she would create a human services committee of the city council to oversee services to citizens that she called “substandard.”

“Often times, they lack sufficiency to the degree you may as well not even try to deliver them because you’re doing it so poorly,” she says.

President Young

Young says he accomplished a lot during his first elected term, like creating a system for paying outstanding water bills and requiring city contractors to fill a majority of their jobs with city residents.

And he says he’d like to do more; like bring more jobs to the city, open more opportunities for youth, make city government more transparent and make the mayor’s office a little bit weaker.  He wants to remove two mayoral appointees – the Public Works Director and City Solicitor – from the Board of Estimates for example.

“I want to balance the Board of Estimates to the three elected officials,” he says, “so there can be more collaboration between the mayor, the comptroller and I.”

No talking points

Despite the two interacting with each other at various times in the past, Young and Trueheart have not faced each other in a debate yet.

“I don’t think I need to debate Ms. Kim Trueheart,” Young says.

To Trueheart, that means Young is ignoring the voters.

“Engaging with me requires him to engage with the voters,” she says.  “So he is dissing the voters of Baltimore City.  Because I am where the voters are.”

But Young says the voters are clear about where he stands.

“The citizens know my record,” Young says.  “The citizens will reward me for my record; my record is clear.”