It’s no secret that Mayor Brandon Scott is running for a second term — the Democrat pledged to run for a second term within weeks of winning the 2020 primary. But he’ll make it official at a campaign kickoff today at the Cahill Recreation Center in Leakin Park at 1 p.m.

The revitalization of rec centers and public spaces for city youth is a favorite issue of Scott’s. He’s chosen rec centers as avenues for major moments in his tenure before, including this year’s annual State of the City address, which he delivered at the Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center in the spring.

“Mayor Scott isn’t done yet,” campaign manager Nick Machado wrote in an email to Scott supporters advertising the event this week, touting a decreasing crime rate and the lowest number of vacant Baltimore properties in a decade.

“He knows our progress is at stake and that now is not the time to move back toward leadership that has failed us before,” he continued.

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The email also featured new campaign branding for Scott, which nods to the celebrated Domino Sugar Sign.

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Scott faces former Mayor Sheila Dixon in the primary, as well as Bob Wallace, who ran against Scott in the 2020 general election as an independent, among other candidates. The deadline to file a candidacy is February 9. The primary election is May 14.

In 2019, Scott, then City Council president, announced his first run for City Hall’s top office in front of his parents’ house in Park Heights. He delivered victory remarks outside his grandmother’s home in the same neighborhood in June 2020.

Olszewski open to a run for Congress

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. hedged in an interview this week that a campaign for Congress could be in his future — the most he’s said to reporters who’ve peppered him with questions about a possible run.

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The Dundalk native, who now lives in Millers Island, is term-limited and precluded from a third stint as county executive. Maryland politics watchers have long expected Olszewski to launch a campaign for Maryland’s 2nd Congressional District, if his fellow Democrat, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, passes on a 12th term.

Ruppersberger has not announced whether he’ll run for reelection, Olszewski noted in an interview with The Banner, but the county executive said he’s open to the possibility.

“If there’s the right opportunity to expand and elevate the work here in Baltimore County, that is something we would take a very serious look at,” Olszewski said.

He added: “We’ll see what the weeks ahead have in store.”

Several members of Maryland’s congressional delegation this year have announced they are retiring or moving on. U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin said he would not seek another term. U.S. Rep. David Trone said he would run for Senate instead of reelection in the 6th Congressional District. And U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes said he would not seek another term representing Howard and portions of Anne Arundel and Carroll counties in the 3rd Congressional District.

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Baltimore County seeks outside attorneys for Gaines suit

Baltimore County’s Office of Law is asking the County Council to sign off on outside legal services for a lawsuit tied to the death Korryn Gaines.

County attorneys seek a $5,000 contract with Maryland-based law firm Schlachman, Belsky, Weiner & Davey to provide additional legal representation of Baltimore County and the police officer who fatally shot Gaines in 2016, in an appeal filed by Gaines’ family currently before the Maryland Supreme Court.

The appeal revolves around Kodi Gaines, then 5 years old, who was in his mother Korryn’s apartment in Randallstown when county Cpl. Royce Ruby fatally shot her during a standoff.

Police officers initially went to Gaines’ apartment to serve warrants on her and her fiancé; Gaines’ warrant was for an alleged failure to appear in court for charges stemming from a traffic stop.

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The Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office declined to bring criminal charges against police. Since then, civil complaints claiming federal civil rights violations and excessive use of police force, filed by Gaines’ family, have gone through Baltimore County Circuit Court and the Appellate Court of Maryland, formerly known as the Court of Special Appeals.

A jury awarded Kodi $32 million in 2018, before a county judge overturned its decision.

The appeal before the Maryland Supreme Court challenges the appellate court’s opinion that Ruby was entitled to qualified immunity related to Kodi’s substantive due process rights claim.

During the council’s Nov. 14 work session, chairman Julian Jones applauded County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.’s administration and top county attorney James Benjamin “for seeking out the expertise ... that’s wanted and needed.”

The contract extends through Jan. 25, 2025, according to county auditors’ notes. Oral arguments in the appeal are scheduled to be heard by the Maryland Supreme Court on Dec. 4.

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Baltimore County’s law office is also requesting to spend nearly $430,300 for consultation with Progressive Management Resources Inc. to meet requirements of a U.S. Department of Justice consent decree over Equal Employment Opportunity Act charges that the Baltimore County Fire Department violated federal law by failing to adequately investigate sexual harassment claims by women in the department.

A tussle over an abortion rights endorsement in U.S. Senate race

The top Democratic contenders for Maryland’s open U.S. Senate seat traded barbs this week over who has the best record at protecting reproductive health rights, including abortion.

Angela Alsobrooks, currently the Prince George’s County executive, rolled out an endorsement from Reproductive Freedom for All, an advocacy group formerly known as NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League).

The organization’s president and CEO, Mini Timmaraju, said in a statement that Alsobrooks has a record of “uplifting families across the state.”

“Maryland needs a senator who will defend the fight for all of us, and we know she is just the person for the job,” Timmaraju said. “We look forward to working alongside Angela to elect our first Black woman senator from Maryland.”

Before the endorsement was official on Thursday, rival candidate David Trone said that Reproductive Freedom for All did not hold an open endorsement process or “fully engage with the entire field of Democratic candidates.” Trone said he has a 100% rating from the organization.

“The facts are simple: David Trone is the only candidate in this race with a proven, 100% track record in support of abortion rights,” Trone’s campaign said in a statement.

Trone already rolled out a TV ad featuring abortion rights activists touting his advocacy work in Western Maryland, which is part of his U.S. House district.

Abortion access has proven to be a winning strategy for Democrats in recent elections around the nation, so it’s no surprise that even here in Maryland — where there are already legal protections in place for abortion care and a constitutional amendment enshrining the right that will be on state ballots next year — candidates are eager to bolster their credentials on the issue.

Hogan heads to American University

Former Gov. Larry Hogan may have bowed out from appearances at Harvard University, citing antisemitic rhetoric on campus, but he’s not leaving the university game altogether. The Republican announced he’ll be a fellow at American University in the spring semester.

Hogan will be a fellow with AU’s Sine Institute of Public Policy and Politics, where he’ll “offer students insights into his success leading Maryland through two eventful terms and what the future holds for American democracy.”

Fellows lead discussions and study sessions with students and participate in campus-wide events, according to the university. Hogan is scheduled for events with topics including “Governing with Civility,” “Leadership in Crisis” and “Whatever Happened and How Do We Fix It? How American Politics Got so Crazy.”

New members of the Moore team

Gov. Wes Moore named a new director of the Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Usherla DeBerry, who has worked in higher education and in state government in North Carolina.

The Moore administration described DeBerry as “a seasoned professional in program administration and advocacy within the Deaf community.” Her confirmation will be forwarded to the Maryland Senate for consideration in the 2024 General Assembly session.

The office is responsible for promoting resources and services for Marylanders who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Moore also named the first members of the new State Board of Sign Language Interpreters. The board was created by state lawmakers to license and regulate interpreters in the state.

The board members include Susan Beaver, an American Sign Language Interpreter who is a child of a deaf adult; Pamela Collins, an assistant professor at Galludet University; Shane Feldman, whose experience includes serving as executive director of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf; Jacob Leffler, an analyst with the U.S. Agency for International Development who has volunteered as vice president with the Maryland Association for the Deaf; Trudy Suggs, a certified deaf interpreter; and Kaylee Teixeira, an American Sign Language interpreter.

The Moore administration is reviewing applications for the board’s seventh member.