Criticized for not doing enough to bring disparate communities together and for ignoring constituents, incumbent Fourth District City Councilman Bill Henry is facing three challengers in the Democratic primary.
Brian Hammock, Rodney Burris and Francesco Legaluppi are trying to unseat Henry who was first elected in 2007. The winner of the April 26 primary will face Republican Sam Broaddus who is running unopposed, in November.
Henry’s challengers call York Road, which runs straight through the North Baltimore district, a dividing line. Neighborhoods to the west are more prosperous. They have fewer homicides, shootings and vacant buildings, while those to the east are struggling.
“Right here it’s most evident where we separate four lanes of traffic,” said Hammock as he campaigned recently near East 43rd Street and York Road.
There are “beautiful, historic homes in the Guilford neighborhood” and a mere four lanes of traffic away, “we’re in Pen Lucy where we’re about to walk in an open air drug market.”
Burris, campaigning in Cameron Village, pointed out “one side is more African-American, the other side is predominantly white.”
And Legaluppi noted the vast disparity in income.
“On the east side of York Road, we do have the statistical under $25,000 population while much of the other side clears over $75,0000,” he said.
But Henry says any such talk of a York Road divide fans the flames of division.
“They’re not responsibly reflecting the cooperative work that is already being done,” he said.
He called the York Road Partnership one of the organizations that promote bringing the communities together and said he has been working with the group since before he was elected to the city council.
“These neighborhoods have a history now of working together to solve common problems along the York Road corridor,” he said.
Others question whether Henry is responsive to his constituents.
Angel Entner, president of the Pen Lucy Community Association, says Henry “has not been responsive.”
“The only response we ever received from him was to go to another organization who’s a fiscal agent who has a long history of bad blood and bad relationships with the association itself,” she said.
But Yavonne Murray of Cameron Village says Henry isn’t bad. It’s just that his focus has changed.
“Maybe he’s tied up in doing things that is not a great concern to him,” she said. “His priorities are maybe so political right now that they are not focused on individual lives.”
Henry dismisses the complaints.
He says he has a district office to be more accessible to constituents and he goes to community meetings in his district all year long.
“If people aren’t seeing me, it’s probably because they are not engaged very much either,” Henry said.
The Money Race
Henry has raised more money-- $20,859--than his competitors in the most recent campaign finance reporting period. His contributors include his council colleagues Council President Jack Young, Mary Pat Clark and Jim Kraft. Young and Clark are running for re-election while Kraft is seeking a seat on the city Circuit Court. Henry reported having an account balance of $36,755.
Hammock raised only $5,146 in the last period, but he has the most money in the bank, $88,749. Much of that money was raised last year. Some of his contributors include associates of former Gov. Martin O’Malley and O’Malley’s O’Say Can You See PAC.
Francesco Legaluppi and Rodney Burris lag far behind in fundraising,
Legaluppi has $8,165 in his campaign account. Burris reported having $2,625 in the bank; including a $250 donation from U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings’ campaign.