Age: 38

Personal: Lives in Southeast Baltimore with his wife, Reena, and their two children

Education: Holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Goucher College and a master’s degree in public policy from the Johns Hopkins University

Experience: Cohen has represented the 1st District on the City Council since he was elected in 2016. Before running for public office, Cohen worked as a middle school teacher in West Baltimore through the organization Teach for America and later founded a nonprofit to teach kids about community organizing and civic leadership.

Endorsements: State’s Attorney Ivan Bates, Comptroller Bill Henry, The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers (AFSCME) Maryland Council 3, Metropolitan Baltimore AFL-CIO, Baltimore-D.C. Metro Building Trades Council, Baltimore Teachers Union, Bikemore

Notable donors: Cohen reported almost $363,000 in the bank at the January filing deadline. Donors who have given him the maximum $6,000 include Ekiben co-owner Ephrem Abebe, T. Rowe Price Group former vice chairman Edward Bernard and wife Ellen Bernard, real estate developer Brandon Chasen of Chasen Companies, former CEO of OM Asset Management Peter Bain and his wife Millicent Bain, and Baltimore Fire Officers Local No. 964. Other notable donors include Canton Port Workers LLC, CSX Transportation.

Read The Baltimore Banner profile of Zeke Cohen.


A: We will have difficult financial decisions in the years ahead, but under my leadership the council will not repeat past mistakes. We cannot afford to balance the budget on the back of our workforce, by cutting social services, or by shortchanging our schools. Instead, we need to proactively engage with our state delegation and fight for Baltimore to receive our fair share of state spending. We need to find efficiencies in city services – not by privatizing government functions or cutting staff, but by doing the hard work of resolving chokepoints and improving systems so we can do more with less. In 2026, I will lead the council in negotiating a better deal for Baltimore and ensuring that our anchor institutions pay their fair share when we ratify new Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreements. Finally, we must grow our tax base and reverse our City’s population loss, which means solving our vacant housing crisis, achieving development without displacement, and increasing housing density in proximity to transit so we can grow in an inclusive and sustainable way. I am proud that in District One we grew by over 5,700 people in the last census under my leadership, and that our growth was inclusive.

A: Under my leadership, the City Council will conduct meaningful oversight over all of our city agencies, particularly those related to public safety. Reducing violence will be our top priority. This is more important than ever before with local control of BPD nearly finalized for the first time since 1861. Baltimore deserves the best police department in the country. I will fund and strengthen the Public Safety Apprenticeship Program, which was created via legislation that I co-sponsored. We must make law enforcement an attractive option for Baltimore’s children. I am proud to have passed the Healing City Act which made Baltimore the first city in America to address trauma. We will accelerate the implementation of this critical work to address the mental health crisis we are all experiencing. I was proud to have secured additional funding for Baltimore Crisis Response, and will continue to make sure mental health crises are addressed by clinicians. I will partner closely with State’s Attorney Ivan Bates (who has endorsed my campaign) to support accountability paired with city services. We will work together to increase access to mental health support and drug treatment programs, while addressing quality of life offenses.

A: I am disappointed that ARPA funds were not more heavily utilized to address the glaring holes in our city services and better support our city workforce. That said, the purchase of hotels by the city to temporarily house individuals experiencing homelessness is a highlight of ARPA spending. As we have learned from past experiences, we must budget for operations and maintenance of these facilities so that they can continue to serve our city for the long run. I believe that we need an ongoing investment in emergency rental assistance. Evictions are traumatic events that destabilize entire families and neighborhoods, and it makes financial sense to proactively prevent them. ARPA funding has enabled our return to weekly recycling. We must make sure that we continue to invest in staff and our fleet so that we can sustainably continue not only weekly recycling, but also establish a curbside compost pilot program. I strongly support the Administration’s ARPA-driven record investments in pools and recreation centers, and we cannot allow these facilities to fall into disrepair ever again. Finally, I support the ARPA investments into MONSE’s violence prevention efforts and believe that we must continue to invest in these successful programs.

A: Baltimore has council districts with smaller populations than other east coast cities including Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and New York. I would be comfortable with slightly larger districts if we change city councilmember positions from part-time to full-time, increase the number of council staff, and increase staff salaries to recruit and retain qualified staff to support our constituents. I disagree with the timeline of the proposed charter amendment to reduce the size of the council.

A: I am concerned that such a sudden and drastic cut to property taxes risks bankrupting our city. We need a community-driven approach to equitably increasing revenues and reducing property taxes to levels competitive with peer jurisdictions. We are lucky to have partners in the state legislature and a Governor who understand the importance of Baltimore having a competitive property tax rate, and we must work closely with them to achieve it.

A: I like that the plan increases the amount of public park space, has commercial uses with a Black-owned, local focus, and improves the streetscapes of Light Street and Pratt Street. I have mixed feelings about the apartment buildings, but overall, I do not feel that they detract from the public space and will help to activate it. I have concerns about the amount of public subsidy requested, estimated at $400 million and will push to make this project the best it can be for our entire city.

A: As a councilmember, I was proud to support the recently-passed inclusionary housing legislation to ensure that all buildings that receive city subsidy have some affordable apartments. I will continue to support policies that promote affordability. In the first district, I helped to secure the rehabilitation of our public housing in O’Donnell Heights, creating mixed-income housing that will not displace residents. I will lead the council in policies of development without displacement citywide. I strongly support the Mayor’s partnership with BUILD and the Greater Baltimore Committee to combat vacants, and believe that we also need a land bank to ensure block-by-block development and ensure that housing remains an affordable community asset as it redevelops. Increasing our housing stock by the vacant housing crisis is make or break in creating a future for our city that includes affordable housing, and now is the time to make the investments and policy decisions that set us on the right path.

A: Under my leadership, the council will stop second-guessing complete streets and instead focus on holding DOT accountable and giving them fiscal support to fully implement complete streets, including its equitable community engagement requirements. We cannot stall projects just because they do not have 100% support - no project is perfect. That being said, when there is real, broad-based community opposition to a project, we must not proceed. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past and impose transportation decisions on marginalized communities and legacy residents against their wishes. But we must also recognize that communities are not monoliths, and that often the individuals who bike not by choice but by necessity are the least likely to participate in the public involvement process. We should also focus on the projects with the broadest support. Pedestrian improvements and common sense traffic calming projects are popular and needed across our entire city. Currently, I have found that it takes 2+ years to have a speed hump installed. That is unacceptable. I will lead the council in funding an expanded traffic division at DOT and in holding DOT accountable to hire and retain staff.

A: We must democratize our city’s financial decision-making — currently, the mayor controls the majority of votes on the Board of Estimates, giving the mayor sole control of spending and contracts. I would support reducing the Board of Estimates to three members and removing the two mayoral appointees. Ideally, I want to see an intensive study of models from other cities and gather community input on alternatives, and I have introduced legislation to do so.

A: I will lead the city council in creating a Baltimore that is safe, affordable, and inclusive, with quality education, great city services, and good middle-class union jobs – and I have the record to back it up. I have brought agencies together to create plans that successfully reduced violent crime in Fells Point after crime increased during the pandemic. I will expand this hands-on approach citywide and will take an active role in the criminal justice coordinating council, which brings our agencies together to improve our criminal justice system. I will hold all city agencies accountable and deliver quality of life improvements for our neighborhoods, as I have done in the first district by resolving nearly 5,000 constituent services requests. I will make sure that our city’s economic growth is inclusive, driven by local small businesses, and that we maintain safe and affordable housing for all. To accompany affordable housing, we need to rebuild our middle class with union jobs. Not only will I stand with labor unapologetically, but I will create new pipelines into union jobs, as I did in the first district by creating a partnership between Patterson High School and the Carpenters Union.