The views expressed here are that of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle LLC and are not associated with or funded by any political party, politial action committee or political candidate for office.
It is extremely important to know that elections are more than just individual people competing for a seat in elected office. Elections are about how we shape the civic landscape that determines the way decisions are made in our everyday lives. LBS wants to provide insight regarding the issues that will appear on the ballot in Maryland in November that we think are useful to those interested in advancing policies that empower Black people.
While most people are focusing on the governor’s race and national political trends, there are five specific things that Black folks in Baltimore (and around the state of Maryland) should be keeping their eye on when they vote in the next few weeks.
Maryland has a Democratic Party supermajority in the legislature in both chambers. This means that anything that the Democrats are unified about can pass the legislature without any support from Republicans. Additionally, the supermajority is veto-proof, meaning that the Democrats have the votes to override any veto that they want. On contentious issues, leadership will use its desire to protect Democrats in moderate districts with viable Republican opponents as an excuse for not going far enough on issues that impact working-class Black people. Most districts in Maryland are solidly Democrat (blue) or solidly Republican (red). There are only a handful of districts that are not definitively blue or red (hence, purple districts).
It is important for Black people in those purple districts to turn out and vote in order to use that turnout as leverage to force the Democrats to deliver on a policy that is more responsive to our needs. Purple districts in Maryland tend to be suburban areas in parts of Harford, Frederick, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore County.
Live in a Purple District?
Learn about your candidates by checking your local Board of Elections
Baltimore City School Board
For the first time, Baltimore will have a partially elected school board. Two of the four people on the ballot will get elected to serve on the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners. All of the candidates in the race seem to be solid for the position. It is essential that people begin to make an informed choice about who they want to serve on the school board.
Candidates for Baltimore City School Board
Question 4 - Cannabis Legalization
Almost 2 dozen states have legalized recreational cannabis around the US. The move toward legalization is an inevitable one. The legislature in 2022 took up the issue during the Maryland General Assembly. While the legislature still has to do the work of passing legislation that regulates the industry in 2023, Question 4 essentially sets the foundation for legalization of recreational cannabis in Maryland.
Question H - Local control of the Baltimore City Police Department
The Baltimore City Police Department is legally an agency of the State of Maryland. While the day-to-day operations of the police department are controlled by the Police Commissioner, who is appointed by the Mayor, policies that govern issues like community oversight and police accountability have to be done at the state level.
Question K - Term Limits
This is a complex issue because this ballot initiative is not really about the issue of term limits. It’s about the influence of Fox News and Sinclair broadcasting having a direct impact on the policies that govern Baltimore City. Term limits will not address the problem of corruption in Baltimore politics. The source of corruption in Baltimore is that elements of the corporate sector and its appendages are able to hand-pick which Black people are viable for public office. Until Black people are able to produce our own independent Black electoral machinery, the same gatekeepers will hand-pick the Black people that they can have control over. Term limits will not change that.