Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott says his gubernatorial campaign is one that members of the St. Mary’s community should support. He says that because he was once a student at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM), and he hopes to bring lessons that he learned while at the College to Annapolis.
“I know the St. Mary’s Way, I represent what our school and our school’s culture is about,” Scott told The Point News. He explained that to him this means “focusing on the needs of everyone and making sure that everyone is getting treated fairly and getting the basic things that they need.”
Scott is running as the second name on the gubernatorial ticket with lawyer and businessperson Jim Shea.
Todd Eberly, associate professor of political science at SMCM, invited Scott and subsequently the whole campaign to SMCM for a meet and greet with students on March 19.
According to a City Paper profile, Scott was a “track star” at Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School (Mervo). Per PressBox, Scott was an “outstanding” runner who “could have run in college,” but elected to go to SMCM for its academics, despite the lack of track and cross country teams at the College at the time.
Councilman Scott said that by “force and by accident” he became a Seahawk. He explained that he was hesitant: after being raised in Baltimore, the rural southern Maryland setting of SMCM was initially off-putting. Ultimately, he speaks highly of his choice to attend SMCM. “This place made me who I am,” Scott said, adding that everything he does “is impacted by his time at SMCM.”
At SMCM, Scott was a member of the Student Government Association (SGA) and the president of the Black Student Union (BSU). He also served on St. Mary’s Multicultural Advisory and African Heritage Month committees from 2004-2006, and received multiple awards for his club service. Scott accredits his time at SMCM with educating him on the struggles of women and members of the LGTBQ+ community.
Scott studied political science at SMCM, he jested in his meet and greet remarks that Eberly never gave him an A and that associate professor Sahar Shafqat was constantly being hard on him. Yet, Scott said that these tough times made him better.
“Brandon was one of my favorite students,” Shafqat told The Point News (TPN) via email. “He was always very engaged and he was always looking to apply the material in class to real-life issues, especially with the goal of advancing social justice.” Shafqat continued, “Brandon was also fun to have in the classroom; he was warm and had a great sense of humor. I am so happy to see him doing so well and doing good work for communities.”
After graduating in 2006, Scott worked briefly as a site program specialist for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Maryland before being hired as a community liaison to former Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, of whom he is a “protege” according to City Paper.
Due to a shift in leadership in 2011, partly due to Rawlings-Blake becoming the Mayor of Baltimore, a vacancy opened up on the city council. Scott ran to fill that spot and won, becoming the second youngest person to sit on the council at the age of 27.
The millennial is now 34 years old. Through his time on the Baltimore City council, Scott has helped usher in younger leadership. He told TPN that he believes that young people are a key component to revitalizing the Democrat’s “tired” message.
“The only way our country is going to represent us is if we [young people] stay involved,” Scott said. “I think that we have to realize that the reason why the Democrats lost the Governor’s mansion in Maryland in 2014 and then the presidential election in 2016 is because the message was tired … because we [the Democrats] were no longer tapping into new young leadership.”
Scott’s running mate, Jim Shea, is 65 years old. Shea told The Baltimore Sun that Scott has “got youth and experience on his side,” Shea said. “He’s part of a generation that’s coming into its own with lots of potential and not interested in the same-old, same-old.” In an interview with The Baltimore Fishbowl, Shea said Scott “adds an enormous amount to the ticket.”
Scott sees the diversity between himself and Shea to be an asset. “With him being an older white guy and me being a young black guy … to us it’s a strength because we can do the very things that no one else can do.” He explains that they both can provide access for one another to populations which they would not have as easy of a time touching otherwise. “We can touch those people at all ends of the spectrum and in a genuine way,” and those conversations lead to policy decisions, Scott said.
According to their campaign website, their policy proposals include plans for improved job security with more opportunities, better pay and better benefits, cleaning up the environment, rejecting systematic racism, healthcare for all Marylanders, equal rights for women, the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities.
When asked about his specific policy proposals, Scott replied that both him and Shea had brought different, yet collaborative, policy expertise to the ticket. Scott noted that Shea was the environmental, education, and healthcare wonk, while he was interested in public health and safety and diversity issues.
Scott told TPN about a new initiative he plans to roll out creating an “equity bill” in Baltimore City. Scott suggested that the bill would be rolled out requiring that “every city agency and the city itself come[s] up with an equity plan for racial equity, gender equity, sex equity, and even economic equity for folks. Every agency will have to analyze all of their policies, from hiring, spending policies, procurement policies, and H[uman] R[esource] policies and how they impact equity… throughout the city.”
Additionally, Scott is is an advocate against police brutality and for reform of the institution. He chairs the Baltimore City council’s public safety committee. Most recently he advocated for a MD state bill to investigate police corruption surrounding the “disgraced” Baltimore City police Gun Trace Task Force, according to The Baltimore Sun. Scott supports a police accountability initiative to have the Department of Justice to invest nationally in body camera technology and law enforcement training.
When asked about healthcare, education and environmental policy, Scott largely deferred the questions to his running mate.
(Editor’s Note: The Shea-Scott campaign agreed to speak with TPN for a telephone interview with Mr. Shea, however, TPN was unable to keep their appointment.)
Shea’s healthcare promise is to “convene those with a vested interest to find workable solutions that provide more quality and affordable health care to Marylanders,” according to the campaign website. “I will not be satisfied until every single citizen in Maryland has access to quality and affordable care.”
On Nov. 13 of 2017, The Baltimore Sun reported on Shea’s education plan which covers children “covers kids from womb to job interview.” His proposal includes universal preschool, child care subsidies, after-school care and summer programs, plus tuition-free community college, higher pay for teachers as well as a new K-12 curriculum pegged to international standards and emphasises on extra funding for poor areas. In an interview with therealnews.com, Shea added “a key element in my plan would be a career track for teachers including compensation. This plan has been critiqued for being quite costly, The Sun referred to it as a “multibillion-dollar” proposal.
According to their campaign website, if elected Shea and Scott vow “to ensure that the Department of the Environment and the Attorney General’s Office have the resources they need for inspection and enforcement,” shift Maryland’s energy consumption to renewables, setting goals of “at least 50 percent of our energy consumption should come from renewable source [by 2030” and 100 percent by 2050.
If Shea and Scott win the primary in a crowded field of Democrats they will face off against the incumbent Governor Larry Hogan.
When asked about their chances against the relatively popular GOP Gov. Hogan in the Democratic-leaning state, Scott answered in a similar manner to State Senator Richard Madaleno, critiquing Hogan’s inaction.
According to The Washington Post, 47 percent of respondents to a mid-February Goucher College poll say they are “leaning toward” or “would definitely vote for Hogan,” but 43 percent say they are “leaning toward” or would “definitely vote for another candidate.”
“Regardless of how popular Hogan is, it’s still going to be competitive,” Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher, told The Washington Post. If Hogan is able to win, he would become Maryland’s first Republican governor to win a second term in 60 years.
In Feb. The Post reported that Shea and Scott’s campaign was solidly in the second tier of candidates, alongside Madaleno, Alec Ross, and Krishanti Vignarajah. All are trailing Democratic candidates like Ben Jealous and Rushern Baker.
But, Shea has had a standout performance in terms of fundraising. He has connections in the legal community and with Democratic donors which have helped him. Half of the campaign contributions to Shea were at the maximum, $6,000, legal amount. “About $587,000 came from employees of Venable law firm, where Shea served as chairman … He had $1.34 million available as of last week, making him the only Democrat besides Kamenetz with seven figures in the bank,” according to The Post.
The primary election on June 26, 2018, and the general on Nov. 6, 2018. See our “2018 Gubernatorial Races: An Overview” article to find out more.