By Tara Huffman
Baltimore’s primary elections, just three months away, promise a major turnover in city government. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has announced that she won’t seek re-election and the Baltimore Sun, among others, predicts major changes in the City Council. We anticipate that the Baltimore City Council will turnover more than 50 percent, and that the median age for the new council will be in the mid-to-late 30s (right now the median age is late 50s).
The uprising both raised and energized a new generation of leaders in Baltimore. Some of them are very grassroots, working at the neighborhood level. Some of them are forming organizations and entire networks to be policy reform forces within City Hall and Annapolis. And some of them are running for office.
This new generation of leaders has the political will to get at the root problems that led to the uprising. OSI-Baltimore is doing all it can to support and develop these new leaders, beginning with our Community Fellows and extending to our grantees, like Baltimore United for Change and Baltimore Action Legal Team.
People who know Baltimore correctly caution that “new” and “fresh” leadership does not automatically translate into positive results. We must also be careful not to look to any one person or group of people to bring about Baltimore’s transformation. The road that led to the uprising is complex; the road that leads to Baltimore’s transformation will be equally complex. Established and emerging leaders will be successful only to the extent they connect across race, class, and sector, and remain responsive to the people of Baltimore.
To that point, the people of Baltimore cannot abdicate the city’s future to a chosen few nor grow weary of the journey. Rather, we must all remain present and active and resolute in our demand for justice and our love for Baltimore. Emerging leadership in Baltimore is not a promise, but is promising in a myriad of ways. It’s incumbent upon us to capitalize on the opportunity 2015 and 2016 presents to us.