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The Mayor's Race: Vox Populi

John Lee

The candidates to be Baltimore’s next mayor are out there knocking on doors, making phone calls, attending forums and hearing from the voters. 

Last Saturday, City Councilman Nick Mosby was working the Northwood neighborhood off the Alameda in Northeast Baltimore. When he caught people at home he quickly gave them his pitch that he is the only candidate for mayor with a comprehensive plan to tackle the city’s problems. When no one answered, he wrote a note on a campaign flyer and stuck it in the storm door.

When he found Carolyn Grayson at home, she told him stopping the killing in a city that recorded its highest yearly per capita murder rate last year is job one for the new mayor.

"Get this crime out of here," Grayson said. "There’s got to be some way that we can do it."

Leroy Brown, who also lives in Northwood, is an ex-felon who served time for robbery. He has a job in a local chain restaurant, but he said the next mayor needs to help other ex-felons find work.

"And there’s nobody willing to give us a job or training programs. It’s very limited training programs for ex-felons," he said.

While Mosby worked Northwood, Michelle Rayner was shopping at Herman’s Discount on Greenmount Avenue in Waverly. She said the next mayor needs to tackle both crime and jobs.

"People won’t have as much crime if they have jobs to pay their bills," Rayner said.

A little farther west, in Charles Village, Sheldon Chiles was working on a construction job. He said the next mayor has to create better paying jobs.

"The cost of living and the minimum wage is definitely not matching up," Chiles said.

At the Roland Park Bagel Company on Cold Spring Lane, businessman David Warnock was going table to table, making his pitch to voters.

"We all know what we need to do in this city," he told them. "Better schools and jobs. And better run city government."

After Warnock moved on from his table, school teacher Jim Morrison said the murder rate needs to come down to get the city back on track.

"They need to fix the relationship between the police and the community," he said.

Back over at Herman’s Discount, owner Ricky Herman complained that the city courts big developers when small businesses need help too.

"We’re not asking for any tax breaks or grants but just some sort of help like street scaping or stuff to make the neighborhood look more attractive," Herman said. "Keep the crime down. Stuff like that that would bring more people back into the neighborhoods to shop."

Other people brought up improving mass transit, fixing the roads and helping the homeless.

As they work the neighborhoods, the candidates are looking for issues that resonate with voters. But they’re going to have a tough time with William Johnson.

He was trying to catch a cab at Greenmount and 33rd. He said he doesn’t plan to vote because no one who has been elected has helped him.

"And whosoever gets in, gets in. And do the job’s that required of them, I guess," Johnson said. "But me, personally, I don’t bother with them at all." Johnson has plenty of company. Fewer than a quarter of the city’s registered voters cast ballots in the last mayoral primary in 2011.