Baltimore City Councilman Eric Costello is running for his own term on the council and is facing a number of challengers.
He has represented the district since October 2014 when he was chosen to succeed Bill Cole, who was appointed head of the Baltimore Development Corporation by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
The choice by a committee organized by Council President Jack Young and subsequent appointment by the council was mired in controversy.
Challenging Costello is Greg Sileo, Dea Thomas, Curtis Johnson, a policy analyst with the Maryland Department of Transportation and Harry Preston, an engineering teacher at Edmondson Westside High School. The winner of the April 26 Democratic Primary will be unopposed in November.
From the south…
Sileo was among the applicants seeking to replace Cole. But the committee of residents and business owners, along with two council members picked Costello over Sileo within five minutes after four hours of interviews.
“I think it was pretty clear that the members of the committee had already made their decision as to who the person was going to be before the process even unfolded,” Sileo complained.
Costello says he had no control over the committee.
“I prepared for the questions that were provided to us in advance for that hearing,” Costello says. “[I] did my very best to prepare for those and I was selected.”
Sileo can be found every morning at the Southside Diner in Locust Point. He says it’s a good spot to see a lot of the community.
“A lot of people from Locust Point and Riverside and Federal Hill frequent and have breakfast here,” Sileo says. “It’s always a great opportunity to see folks and talk about what’s going on in the neighborhood.”
He says breakfast at the diner has been part of his routine for the last six years. It compliments his door-to-door campaigning which began shortly after Costello was picked to finish Cole’s term.
From the west…
Dea Thomas has been reminding people that Costello was appointed by the council and that he wasn’t elected. She also makes it a point to ask potential voters if they even know who their council person is.
Thomas, of Otterbein, says she asks for two reasons; to see if they know who Costello is and if voters are engaged in the city council races. Most of the people she spoke with on a recent windy Saturday afternoon in Druid Heights admitted they were more focused on the mayor’s race.
She faults Costello for not bringing communities together to solve common issues and not accomplishing anything since taking office.
“Sixteen months on the council is long enough to have something that you can say you’ve championed without name dropping,” Thomas says.
Costello dismisses claims that no one in the district knows who he is and says community leaders know him very well.
“I try to be active across the district and that includes Midtown, includes Central West Baltimore,” he says.
Costello adds he has been working tirelessly for his district since taking office.
Those days have become even longer as he’s added campaigning to his work on the council.
He says he hopes residents will recognize his efforts by giving him a full four year term on the council.
“What I’ve tried to do every single waking moment on the council is prove that I’m the best person for the job,” he says.
The Money Race
Costello has far more money in his bank account compared to his challengers.
According to the most recent campaign finance reports, Costello reported having just short of $100,000 on hand.
Thomas is a distant second with more than $38,000 on hand. But she is not far behind Costello in fundraising. While she has raised $15,906 in the last period, Costello has raised $18,683.
Contributors to Costello include several PACs, Council President Jack Young’s campaign and outgoing Mayoral Spokesman Howard Libit.
Thomas received contribution from LegPAC, a committee organized by Sen. Ben Cardin. She was a legislative staff member for him.
Sileo reported more than $25,500 in his campaign bank account. But he has raised only $885 in the most recent period.
Johnson has just less than $8,000 on hand. Preston has a little more than $7,000 in his campaign account.