May 27, 2020 at 1:33 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Two gay men running for Baltimore City Council
From left, Phillip Westry and Akil Patterson (Photos courtesy of Westry and Patterson)

Two gay Baltimore City Council candidates are on the ballot in June 2’s primary election.

Akil Patterson hopes to succeed Council member Shannon Sneed, who currently represents the 13th District. Sneed is running to become the Council’s next president.

State Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City), Councilmember Eric Costello, former NAACP President Ben Jealous, Pennsylvania state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and Jason Collins are among those who have endorsed Patterson. The LGBTQ Victory Fund and Progressive Maryland have also backed him.

Patterson coached Hudson Taylor, founder of Athlete Ally, an organization that promotes acceptance of LGBTQ athletes, when he wrestled at the University of Maryland.

Patterson, who is also a member of the Baltimore City LGBTQ Commission and the city’s HIV Planning Council, told the Washington Blade in January that sports helped him come to terms with his sexual orientation. Patterson said his experience and his work as a government and community relations specialist qualify him to join the Council.

“I understand policy,” he told the Blade. “I understand where the most pressing needs for policy are.”

Campaign finance reports indicate Patterson has raised $65,269.20 since the beginning of 2019.

The latest campaign finance report that Patterson’s campaign filed on May 22 indicates it had $13,772.33 in the bank. A spokesperson on Tuesday in an email to the Washington Blade said the campaign currently has roughly $21,000 on hand.

“Out of all the candidates in the district we have the most endorsements and raised the most money,” said the campaign. “We have done this by running on a progressive platform that addresses crime, poverty, transparency and social determinants of health.” 

Phillip Westry, a lawyer who represents the Maryland Center for Legal Assistance and other nonprofit organizations, is running against Council member Robert Stokes, who currently represents the 12th District.

The Victory Fund, Progressive Maryland and the AFL-CIO Baltimore Metro Council are among the organizations that have endorsed Westry. Maryland state Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City) and Council President Brandon Scott also support him.

“Phillip Westry has been working in our community for a long time, making a real difference for Baltimore’s working families as a public interest attorney,” said McIntosh in a press release that Westry’s campaign issued on April 28. “He has the right values and experience to represent us well on the City Council.”

Westry in the same press release says his campaign has “knocked on over 32,000 doors, canvassing the entire district four times” before the coronavirus pandemic began.

“We built a robust grassroots campaign to unseat a deeply entrenched and, by many accounts, absentee councilmember who stands in the way of meaningful progress on a host of issues at a critical moment for our city,” said Westry. “In this time of crisis, we need our representatives at all levels of government to be present and to lead.”

Campaign finance reports indicate Westry has raised $104,304.35 since the beginning of 2019, compared to $60,000 that Stokes has raised. The latest campaign finance reports, which were filed on May 22, indicate Westry has $21,489.66 in the bank, compared to Stokes’ $38,566.58.

Young seeks full term in mayoral race

The primary had been scheduled to take place on April 28, but Gov. Larry Hogan postponed it because of the pandemic. The Maryland Board of Elections is encouraging voters to cast their ballots by mail.

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young is running in the Democratic primary in the race to succeed Catherine Pugh, who resigned last May over the sale of copies of her “Healthy Holly” children’s books series to the University of Maryland Medical System while she served on its board. Mary Washington in March suspended her mayoral campaign because of the pandemic. Recent polls indicate there isn’t a clear frontrunner and there are 24 candidates on the ballot, including former Mayor Sheila Dixon, who also resigned amid legal troubles. Brandon Scott won the endorsement of the Baltimore Sun for mayor; former Obama official Mary Miller has polled well. But recent polls show nearly a quarter of voters remain undecided.

Mark Procopio, the outgoing executive director of FreeState Justice, Maryland’s statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, on Tuesday told the Blade the organization does “not endorse candidates for elected office at this time.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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