What’s the job: Representing residents on the 15-member City Council, including introducing and voting on legislation, approving city spending and providing oversight of city operations. Council members are elected to four-year terms by district. The 11th District includes Central and South Baltimore neighborhoods such as Downtown, Federal Hill, Locust Point, Madison Park and Mount Vernon.

Look up your City Council district here.


Zac Blanchard smiles for a portrait while sitting on the steps of Lexington Market.
Zac Blanchard smiles for a portrait while sitting on the steps of Lexington Market. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Name: Zac Blanchard

Age: 31

Personal: Lives in Federal Hill with his wife, Alexa, and a 15-month-old son

Education: Blanchard holds a bachelor’s degree in astrospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a master’s degree in African studies from the University of Cambridge.

Experience: President of the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association, vice president of economic development for the Midtown Benefits District, U.S. Marine Corps veteran

Endorsements: Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, Maryland Child Alliance, VoteVets, New Politics, Bikemore, Baltimore school board Commissioner Ashley Esposito

Notable donors: Blanchard is fundraising through Baltimore’s new public financing fund, which caps donations at $150 per donor and provides candidates with matching funds.


A: No. First, I don’t think a Baltimore County billionaire should be able to buy charter amendments in Baltimore City because he’s “curious” (his words). That said, considering that the city’s population has shrunk by 60,000 people since the last time we shrank the council, I would be willing to discuss reducing the council accordingly. Additionally, we need to get rid of the elected city council president. Since our last 5 mayors were city council presidents before becoming mayor, there’s a conflict-of-interest issue where the mayor and council president are always competing, and that makes it hard to get meaningful things accomplished in our city.

A: Well I would continue to enthusiastically support recent and current city council legislation like removing parking requirements for affordable housing units, and requiring that all developments receiving government support include a percentage of affordable housing units. Additionally, by ending our vacant housing crisis and removing some unnecessary zoning restrictions, we can increase the number of housing units in the city: more housing means more options, and the increase in supply will lower the cost of housing. Housing follows the law of supply and demand like everything else. Plus, I genuinely care about ending concentrated poverty in Baltimore. My opponent’s track record suggests he does not.

A: First and foremost, I will continue to support a vacancy tax, which has been my first-listed priority on my website. Almost half of the 14,000 abandoned properties in Baltimore pay less than $250 a year in property taxes. The tax rate should be increased to incentivize owners of abandoned properties to rehab and reoccupy the properties, or sell them to someone who can. Of note, the 11th District has 500-plus abandoned properties - this is a serious problem in our district, not just in “the rest of the city.” I also support the land bank legislation Councilwoman Ramos has fought for, and Mayor Scott’s TIFs-for-vacants strategy. Within the 11th, I will work diligently to support any developers who invest in improving our neighborhoods by solving the vacancy crisis.

A: Short answer: yes, but my support depends on the city not having to foot the $330 million that we are expecting the federal government to provide. Long answer: Personally, I work with public space projects in my day job; I am raising a family five blocks from the harbor; I will never accept more than $150 from anyone; and I have an obvious political incentive to attack the project. All that said, I support the plan. I think it will energize and activate the space much more effectively than anything I’ve seen in my 14 years of coming to the Inner Harbor. Also, by connecting the Inner Harbor to McKeldin Plaza, and transforming Pratt St, it will pull the harbor into Downtown, helping make Downtown more vibrant. Legislatively, I do not think the council should have passed the charter amendment until MCB could give the council a sense of where the $330 million in federal funding is coming from. I understand we are very early on in the project, but we have to avoid a situation where the city again turns to very creative financing on the waterfront, while allowing our neighborhoods to fail.

A: I hope that a vacancy tax bill is enacted before I take office, but if not, I will introduce that bill within my first month of office. As mentioned before, a vacancy tax will have a transformative impact in my district (which has over 500 abandoned properties, including over 300 in Upton alone) and for many neighborhoods across the city. Additionally, our City government loses $200 million a year due to the vacancy crisis, so Baltimore literally cannot afford this abandoned housing crisis. A vacancy tax would end the abandoned housing crisis quickly while making the City money.

A: We are highly taxed, but we are also super-broke. By reducing property taxes by ~40%, we create a roughly $400 million revenue gap in a city that already struggles to provide adequate services. So on its own, I do not support the effort. To cover the $400 million gap, we would need to greatly reduce our property tax credits, reduce zoning restrictions to facilitate more housing across the city, charge for trash collection (as most Maryland counties do), and introduce a vacancy tax. IF, and only if, we were willing and able to implement meaningful changes like these measures (or similar ones), then a property tax deduction would be worth serious consideration. A lower tax rate (coupled with stable revenue) would make it easier to build new housing, retain the Black working-class residents we’ve been hemorrhaging, and generally help stop our 7-decade-long population decline. But I don’t know how feasible such a revenue-raising strategy would be, and I am opposed to dramatically reducing services just to cut taxes.

A: No. Unlike my incumbent opponent, who is a part-time IT employee for University of Maryland, Baltimore, my city council salary will be my exclusive source of employment. I am currently a captain in the Marine Corps Reserves, but will leave the reserves before taking office. Several years ago, I formed an LLC, Good Neighborhood Properties, and worked with 17 neighbors and friends to purchase the parking lot across the street from our house. Through that process, we ended up purchasing another house on our block that we now rent out to my former nextdoor neighbors. So I am a proud part-owner of those two properties.

A: Vocational training, vocational training, vocational training. I want to be the council’s expert on apprenticeship programs and vocational training. I’ve said this to hundreds of people while door-knocking, and I’ve written this in several questionnaires. In-line with that, we should have a holistic approach to preparing young people for good-paying jobs. We need to strengthen Youthworks (which is already a great program), promote partnerships between unions and city schools, and ensure the School-Based Violence Intervention Plan gets implemented effectively and as soon as possible.

A: I’ve got a proven record of service to my country and to my city, I’ve got a clear vision for a better Baltimore and a clear strategy of how to get there, and I’ll never accept more than $150, so the 11th District’s residents can trust that I’m fighting for them, and not for moneyed interests. On the other hand, my opponent refuses to have a vision for the city and is running on a status quo, I-don’t-do-legislation platform, which is remarkable considering the scale of the city’s problems. My opponent’s connection to moneyed interests, including the $27,000 he received on August 11th, 2023 from the family of David Smith (owner of the Baltimore Sun and pro-Trump Sinclair Broadcast Group), and the conflict of interests between his donors and his constituents, are well-established.


Name: Eric Costello

Age: 43

Personal: Lives in Federal Hill. His partner Maryland Sen. Sarah Elfreth represents Anne Arundel County in the General Assembly

Education: Costello holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from State University of New York at Oneonta and a master’s degree in information management from Syracuse University.

Experience: Has represented the 11th District on the Baltimore City Council since 2014. Before his time in elected office, he worked as a senior IT auditor with the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Endorsements: Gov. Wes Moore, Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown, Maryland Comptroller Brooke Lierman, Senate President Bill Ferguson, Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones, State’s Attorney Ivan Bates, Baltimore Comptroller Bill Henry, Sheriff Sam Cogen, Former Mayor Jack Young, International Longshoreman’s Association District Council, Baltimore Firefighters IAFF 734, Baltimore Fire Officers IAFF 964, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Maryland Council 3; Moms Demand Action.

Notable donors: Atlas Restaurant Group founder Alex Smith and his wife Christina Ghani; Eric Smith of Atlas Restaurant Group; Frederick Smith of Sinclair Inc.; Patrick Grace of Trademark Properties; Matthew Lasinski of Rivermat LLC ;Avi Oustatcher of MSB LLC; Mark and Stacy Sapperstein, both of 28Walker Development; Carney Village; Caves Valley Partners II LLC; Comm-Foods Inc.; Halp Ridgely Water and Sewer Utility; JAM Enterprises LLC; MOSB Holdings and Refinery Canton LLC.


A: The primary role of a Councilmember is constituent services. Due to City government dysfunction, a variety of hurdles within City government, and challenges unique to our City, a Councilmember in Baltimore City deals with a far greater volume of these requests, so it is not an “apples-to-apples” comparison related to the size of our neighboring legislatures (Baltimore County at 7, Anne Arundel at 5, Howard at 5). I will not be voting for this ballot measure.

A: During my time in office, I have helped shepherd through over 3,000 new or completely renovated affordable housing units. I plan to continue these efforts aggressively over the next four years. I voted in support of the new Inclusionary Housing law and continue to work with our State partners to help fund critical affordable housing projects throughout the City.

A: There are a variety of solutions that will help chip away at the problem, however there is no panacea to completely solve this challenge. I recently led negotiation efforts with the Administration to increase funding for in-rem litigation capacity for DHCD. I am supportive of a variable tax rate for vacant properties so they are taxed at an increased rate (this requires State-enabling legislation), increasing in-rem litigation capacity, and expediting RFP’s that focus on block-by-block outcomes in DHCD priority impact investment areas such as Upton and Druid Heights.

A: I support the Harborplace revitalization plan. While I certainly understand that change can be hard, I firmly believe that a modern approach to Harborplace is needed with mixed uses, a promenade that is built with climate resiliency in mind, and expanded public space.

A: There are several legislative topics I plan to pursue next term. Previously, I have been the lead sponsor on audit reform, property assessed clean energy, short-term rentals regulation, private security camera rebates, and a number of different tax credits that benefit our residents and small businesses. I plan to continue these efforts around public safety, financial integrity of the City, and tax credit reform. I also plan to pursue legislation to require effective utility work coordination by DOT, DPW, BGE, and other utility providers.

A: I support reducing real property taxes. We made progress on reducing the effective tax rate for primary homeowners by 20 cents over a 10 year period concluding in 2020. We should resume this program and do so at a faster rate. The Renew Baltimore proposal is extremely concerning due to not having State back-up to cover potential lost revenues coupled with increased statutory commitments related to Blueprint for Maryland education commitments. The resulting impact to core city services could be very significant.

A: I work part-time as IT Security staff at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. This is disclosed this annually in accordance with the City’s ethics code through my financial disclosure statement.

A: Increased scope of activities at BCRP recreation facilities. I led the effort this past budget cycle related to expanding activity offerings by BCRP at our recreational facilities, and we plan to further pursue those efforts this June. We established a fund for vocational training and I plan to work on creative ways to expand those efforts.

A: I am humbly asking for the support of 11th District voters so I may continue to work with them, and for them, for another four years. Over the past 9+ years, I have developed a reputation for being responsive and effective related to resolving constituent service requests and fixing complicated problems. I have dedicated my life over the past decade to this job and I plan to treat every waking moment in this office moving forward with the same sense of urgency that my constituents expect.