Nearly a month after AFSCME Maryland Council 3 endorsed most of their Baltimore candidates, the influential public employee union has named Mark Parker as its choice in the competitive primary race to represent Southeast Baltimore on the City Council.

Parker, the pastor of Highlandtown’s Breath of God Lutheran Church, faces City Hall aide Liam Davis and Canton Community Association Treasurer Joseph Koehler in the Democratic primary. Incumbent councilman Zeke Cohen is vacating his seat as he runs for City Council president.

Parker “is rooted in the community, he is dedicated to service, and he is committed to working families,” said Patrick Moran, the union’s president. “As pastor of one of our community’s anchor institutions, he knows how to build bridges, do outreach, and pound the pavement.”

Parker and Davis are well known among both potential constituents and the political scene. Parker first ran for the seat in an open 2016 primary; he lost to Cohen. Davis currently works as a legislative affairs manager at the Department of Transportation. He previously served as a community liaison in then-City Council President Jack Young’s office, and also served as chief clerk to the council.

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There have been no scientific polls of 1st District constituents, but the race is viewed as one of the council’s most competitive. Some major unions have opted to not make any endorsements in the 1st District, despite the candidates’ high profiles.

Both candidates have received several major endorsements. Davis has the support of city firefighters and the council’s moderate faction, while Parker was tapped by Cohen, Comptroller Bill Henry, and the Baltimore Teachers Union. And both are well-funded: Parker’s campaign has $93,000 on hand as of finance reports filed last week, with Davis trailing just behind at around $90,000.

Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees power Baltimore’s agencies as operations staffers. Thousands of AFSCME members work in the city’s transportation, public works, recreation and parks and health departments.

“Their commitment to public service, their professionalism, and their dedication are at the heart of our capacity as a city to provide dependable services and build and sustain livable communities,” Parker said in a statement professing gratitude for their support.

Emily Sullivan covers Baltimore City Hall. She joined the Banner after three years at WYPR, where she won multiple awards for her radio stories on city politics and culture. She previously reported for NPR’s national airwaves, focusing on business news and breaking news.

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