Two of Maryland’s third parties have lost their official recognition due to poor showings at the ballot box.

Voters who signed up as members of the Green Party or the Working Class Party are receiving letters notifying them of the change in status. Those voters’ affiliations will change from “Green Party” to “Other-Green Party,” or “Working Class Party” to “Other-Working Class Party.”

Political parties must receive 1% of the vote for the highest statewide office in the last election (in this case, governor), or have 1% of all registered voters after the last election.

In the 2022 election for governor, Green Party nominee Nancy Wallace earned 0.73% of the vote and Working Class Party nominee David Harding earned 0.86%.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Active voter registrations for the two parties also fell short, according to state data: Greens make up 0.15% of registered voters and Working Class voters represent 0.11%.

The Green Party plans to work to regain recognition as a party through another path: collecting 10,000 signatures ahead of the 2024 election. If the party is successful, those with “Other-Green Party” would have their registration updated to “Green Party.”

Third parties have struggled to gain traction in Maryland politics, sometimes gaining and losing recognized status between elections.

The political parties currently recognized in Maryland are the Democratic Party, Republican Party and Libertarian Party.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

With Cohen moving on, 1st District candidates step up

When Councilman Zeke Cohen announced he would run for City Council president last week, he left open his 1st District council seat, which represents Southeast Baltimore and spans from Harbor East to Graceland Park. The diverse district has clusters of Black, white, Latino and Asian communities, as well as a high population of immigrants.

At least two Democrats will run to replace him.

Liam Davis made it official on Friday, declaring that he will run to replace Cohen. The Greektown resident worked in the office of then-City Council President Jack Young as chief clerk of the City Council before joining the city’s Department of Transportation as a legislative affairs manager in 2019.

“I’m the right person for the job, and I’ll be ready to go on day one. The experience I have in city government is unparalleled,” Davis said.

His most recent campaign finance report, filed in January, shows Davis has $27,432.60 on hand — a sizable figure for a council seat at this point in the election cycle, and his opponent has nearly twice as that on hand.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Mark Parker, an Otterbein native who serves as a pastor at Breath of God Lutheran Church in Highlandtown, is also running for the seat. He ran in 2016 and lost to Cohen.

Parker’s parents were one of the original dollar home buyers in Otterbein, where he grew up in the midst of a developing neighborhood being patched together by dedicated council members.

“It’s where I learned that individuals and neighbors working together can accomplish community transformation,” he said.

A standard day as a pastor encompasses everything from providing congregants with mental health support to assistance in starting a small business, he said: “The bulk of the job is to listen and find solutions — that’s what I’d do on the council.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

DPW director sticks around amid agency tumult, turnover

The head of Baltimore’s public works department, who announced his plans to resign earlier this year, will stick around a little longer.

Department of Public Works Director Jason Mitchell had announced plans to step down in late April following a letter from two City Council members threatening to call for his ouster. Mitchell has been in the position for less than two years and said earlier this year that he needed to resign to attend to health and family issues.

Mitchell’s decision to hang around through the end of the fiscal year comes at a moment of continued tumult for his agency, which has jumped from managing one crisis to the next over much of the last year. Last week, an explosion caused damage at the site of the agency’s troubled Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant. The Dundalk plant has been under state oversight since last March due to reports of regular sewage discharges and failure to comply with a Maryland Department of the Environment order to stop them.

In a statement this week, Mayor Scott said he looks forward to continuing to work with Mitchell, who he said agreed to stay on longer “due to agency priorities that require his leadership.” With his extra three months, the public works head will be focused on managing Baltimore’s consent decree negotiations, developing a long-term strategy for managing solid waste and aiding in the agency’s search for a new director.

On top of its wastewater treatment problems, Mitchell’s agency has weathered a botched communications response to September’s E. coli-contaminated drinking water scare, on-again, off-again recycling services and a worker shortage of nearly 700 people.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Still, several City Council members pleaded with Mitchell not to leave at a meeting in January, on the day he announced his resignation plans, stressing that agency reform will take time.

The announcement of Mitchell’s extension follows news, first reported in The Baltimore Brew, that the head of the agency’s Bureau of Water and Wastewater is also stepping down. Agency spokeswoman Blair Adams confirmed the departure of Yosef Kebede in a statement and thanked him for his expertise and commitment to high-quality service.

Mitchell’s looming departure has left big questions about the future of leadership in the public works department. One of the agency’s two main divisions, the Bureau of Water and Wastewater, will be without its three-year head after Kebede steps down, while the other, the Bureau of Solid Waste, has not had a permanent head for nearly two years.