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 1st District includes Southeast Baltimore neighborhoods such as Fells Point, Canton, Patterson Park, Greektown and O’Donnell Heights.

Look up your City Council district here.


A photo of Liam Davis wearing a dark blue suit, light blue shirt, a gold tie with stripes, in front of the Baltimore harbor. He's leaning on a coin-operated tower viewer.
Liam Davis is a candidate for the Baltimore City Council in the 1st District. (Handout)

Name: Liam Davis

Age: 34

Personal: Baltimore native and resident of Greektown since 2012. Single, no children.

Education: Graduate of Calvert Hall College High School. Bachelor’s degree, metropolitan studies, Towson University. Licensed Maryland real estate agent.

Experience: Over a decade of city government experience including: City Council President’s Office community liaison (Districts 1, 2, 3, and 11), chief clerk of the City Council, Council President’s Office legislative assistant and legislative affairs manager of the Baltimore City Department of Transportation. I have also served in a volunteer capacity as chair of the MTA Citizens Advisory Committee (2017-2019), president of Greektown Neighborhood Association (2016-2020), and Live Baltimore board member (2019 - present).

Endorsements: Baltimore City ILA District Council (Locals 333, 953 and 1429), Baltimore City Firefighters Local 734, Baltimore City Fire Officers Local 964, Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton (6th District), Councilwoman Danielle McCray (2nd District), Councilman Mark Conway (4th District), Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer (5th District), Councilman James Torrence (7th District), Councilman Eric Costello (11th District), Councilman Robert Stokes (12th District), Councilman Antonio Glover (13th District).

Notable donors: John Luetkemeyer, MCB Property Services, Arsh Mirmiran, Friends of John Olszewski Jr., Alex Smith, Eric Costello, Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Schleifer.

A: I am not officially opposing the measure however I do have concerns. Reducing the districts from 14 to 8 would create districts that are geographically larger. Larger physical districts would likely require more funding to run competitive races, meaning it could be harder for grassroots campaigns to compete. Any cost savings yielded from less Councilmembers would likely be offset by the scaling up of the remaining 8 offices to accommodate increased workloads resulting from larger districts with more people. How much value does this proposal generate for Baltimore? Not a whole lot if you ask me.

A: There are several areas concerning affordable housing where I would prioritize focus. First and foremost, I intend to closely monitor the implementation of Councilwoman Ramos’ Inclusionary Housing Bill. Success of her legislation in terms of creating more affordable housing will rely on public dollars and I am fully committed to working with my future colleagues on the City Council to ensure adequate funds are appropriated each budget cycle. Additionally, I would like Baltimore City to fund a program that would provide graduates of Baltimore City Public Schools eligibility to secure a $10,000 forgivable loan to for down payment and closing cost assistance to purchase a home right here in Baltimore City. 500 grants would cost $5 million annually fund. I am confident that we can identify these dollars in our multi-billion dollar annual budget. Lastly, I intend to use my City Council oversight authority to identify areas of improvement within the City’s building permit review process. A key to lowering housing costs is simply building more housing. We can help facilitate this by doing a better job in City Government of reviewing and process permits that have been submitted correctly.

A: My hope is that when and where feasible that the City prioritize rehabilitation of historic vacant structures. Rowhomes are part of our culture and although I understand there are circumstance where demolition is necessary, my view is that we should be providing incentives to local contracting and home builder companies to rehabilitate our vacant historic structures. Given the scale of vacancies, I think it’s important we prioritize our property rehabilitation efforts. On that note, I think it makes most sense to focus resources in neighborhoods located within a half mile of high-frequency MTA transit assets (CityLink Bus Routes, Light Rail, Metro Subway & MARC Train). Transit access expands the market of potential homebuyers beyond folks who own a personal vehicle. Eventually the housing markets around each focus area will improve and expand, helping to chip away at the City’s high number of vacancies.

A: Understanding there will be further public discussion and dialogue I do support efforts to overhaul Harborplace. While the developer has a controlling stake of the pavilion buildings themselves, Baltimore City still retains ownership of the land — a key point that provides me confidence that the final project can be built out with public benefit in mind. Based on my research, the proposed plan would help implement much needed traffic calming at Pratt Street & Light Street, expand the size of the public park, remove impervious surface, upgrade the aging waterfront promenade infrastructure, provide new dining and retail options, while also adding housing that would be subject to the City’s Inclusionary Housing Legislation. I have yet to see a counter proposal that has a realistic chance to upgrade the Inner Harbor. Do nothing is unacceptable.

A: My first day in office I would introduce a bill that would repeal the requirement within City Code that requires abutting property owners to pay for sidewalk and alley repairs. These corridors are the public right-of-way and I think it’s wrong to expect abutting property owners to pay for infrastructure that should already be covered by our local and state tax contributions. Furthermore, there’s a 7 to 10 year backlog on sidewalk repairs. This significant backlog leads to frustration and confusion from residents getting bills in the mail for sidewalk repairs that were initially reported to 311 sometimes a decade prior. The process is a mess that simply shouldn’t require payment from residents beyond the numerous taxes and fees that they already pay. I have 8 members of the City Council endorsing my candidacy so not only will this bill be introduced, I am confident that it will be adopted by the City Council.

A: I am currently taking a neutral stance on Renew Baltimore’s property tax cut effort. I am interested to see what the voters end up deciding. I do see risk associated with the plan, however I am confident that the City can raise revenue from alternative sources beyond property taxes, much like our neighboring counties do. For example, if Renew Baltimore were to be ratified by the voters I think it would be perfectly acceptable for the City Council and Administration to review the necessity of our various property tax credits. Why would property tax credits be needed if property taxes as a whole were cut in half? Removing the tax credits (excluding the Homestead Tax Credit which is a state program) would yield between $100 million to $200 million in new revenue annually. My knowledge and experience within City Government provides me absolute confidence that we can navigate our fiscal situation regardless of whether or not Renew Baltimore passes or not. I want to be clear that I will not support cutting City services, laying off public workers, or cutting municipal employee benefits. If Renew Baltimore passes I will lead the charge to identify new sources of revenue to minimize impact to City operations.

A: I intend to serve as a full time City Councilmember. I will resign from my position at Baltimore City Department of Transportation prior to being sworn in. No other paying jobs or gigs. Period.

A: I feel very strongly that is long past time to retire the School to Prison Pipeline terminology and instead focus on preparing our young High Schoolers and College Grads for a career in public service, right here in Baltimore City Government. Hiring our local kids provides them an opportunity to earn a livable wage fresh out of school. City government offers a wide range of positions, with a variety of educational requirements. Getting a career in City Government generally won’t lead someone to be a millionaire however it does help folks get a solid job with decent benefits right in their hometown. We can jumpstart this program by working with North Avenue and Baltimore City Community College to ensure our school curriculum is aligned with highly demanded skills within City government. In short, my hope is to establish a robust and sustainable School to Public Service Pipeline. Our kids will have jobs and our residents will receive better services due to a reduction in vacancies within City Government. It’s a win-win.

A: I am running for 1st District City Council because I know City Hall desperately needs experienced leadership at the helm and I feel very strongly that I am the best candidate to do just that. Being an effective public servant and longtime community leader, I feel as though I am uniquely qualified to serve as an effective City Councilmember starting on my first day in office, ready to tackle complicated problems that impact the lives of all Baltimoreans. With over a decade of experience working for Baltimore City, I have served in numerous constituent service, legislative and policy roles within our local government including: City Council President’s Office Community Liaison (Districts 1, 2, 3, and 11) Chief Clerk of the City Council, Council President’s Office Legislative Assistant, and Legislative Affairs Manager of the Baltimore City Department of Transportation. I have also served in a volunteer capacity as Reading Partners Tutor (2012 - 2018), John Ruhrah Youth Baseball Coach (2015 - 2016), MTA Citizens Advisory Committee Chair (2017 - 2019), President of Greektown Neighborhood Association (2016 -2020), and Live Baltimore Board Member (2019 - Present). There are 3 candidates running for City Council in District 1. All 3 of us have extensive community service experience. The key difference with me is my extensive experience within City Government, and proven track record of advancing impactful legislation and policy. Looking at this logically I am the most prepared to be an effective Councilmember starting from the very first day. How often does one have the opportunity to elect a candidate who is the youngest in the race but also the most experienced? This is a unique opportunity for voters and I can’t wait to get to work on your behalf!

A photo of Joe Koehler wearing a black suit, blue shirt, and dark blue tie.
Joseph Koehler is a candidate for the Baltimore City Council in the 1st District. (Handout)

Name: Joseph Koehler

Age: 38

Personal: I am single with no children. Lives in Canton.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, international business and government and politics, University of Maryland, College Park. Master’s degree, accounting and business advisory services, University of Baltimore. Certified Public Accountant.

Experience: Accountant and controller.

Other: Treasurer and Public Safety chair for the Canton Community Association; treasurer of the Catonsvile Rec & Parks Council; started the Block Captain program in Canton; former treasurer and membership chair of the Baltimore Area Network of the University of Maryland Alumni Association;

Endorsements: Run for Something

A: I do not want to reduce the size of the council. If elected, I plan to exemplify what a City Councilmember can accomplish and work with the rest of City Council as a team. We currently have a lot of work to do. This is not the time to change its makeup. We should be focused on making our City and Government better. Although the City Council is the legislative branch, it is also a de facto executive branch that works on constituent services. If we reduce its size, there will be fewer representatives to ensure that this work is getting done. In addition, I want to work on policy that will reverse the population decline in Baltimore City. If successful, there would not be cause to decrease the number of representatives. Finally, I want to advocate for each District to have a Liaison from each agency, working with the District’s Councilmember and other Liaisons as a team. This should include Police Districts, so that we create five more precincts and each of the fourteen police districts would have about twenty police posts, one for each neighborhood, promoting community policing with one or two officers per police post.

A: There are twice the number of applicants for Section 8 housing than what is actually available in Baltimore. We should be moving away from public housing communities that are high concentration areas for poverty and crime and instead, work towards inclusionary housing equally distributed among the 275 neighborhoods in Baltimore. As a City, we should want to increase density and green space while redeveloping our worst neighborhoods. The current legislation should go beyond families of four or more at about the median income level and it should be bridging the gap that is driving population decline. In addition, inclusionary housing needs to be expanded beyond new builds and allow for current multi-family housing to implement inclusionary housing over a three-year period while a portion of the property is vacated over time, allowing for more low-income individuals to move in until there is 20% (instead of 10%) of the property occupied by low-income residents. Multi-family housing buildings should also have a requirement of a first floor that contains only or a combination of a grocery store, recreational space, or a daycare/ PreK option to meet the needs of that community.

A: To reduce the 15,000 vacant properties in Baltimore, we need to be able to implement a vacant property tax that is three times the regular property tax rate. This will help accelerate the sale and development of properties. Next, create a Land Bank that allows for the acquisition of land or property that has been vacant for three years. A three-year grace period to be developed and sold is a reasonable time, but the Land Bank would first target areas that have higher concentrations of vacants and then prioritize properties by how long they have been vacant. If possible, turn some of these properties over to Habitat for Humanity, which has been a great partner for the City. Finally, the Land Bank can also go to the communities to help determine what is needed there and ensure that the properties are converted into something that will meet those needs: grocery stores, daycares and PreK options, playgrounds and parks, etc.

A: I do not support the current plan for Harborplace. I want as much public space that can complement current tourist attractions downtown while giving the largest number of people things to do. Having been to other cities in the US and around the world, I know we can do better. We can have something similar to High Line Park and Little Island at Hudson Yards and Chelsea in New York City, creating more green, public space that is both a tourist attraction and functional space for Baltimore residents. A portion of the land could be converted into a botanical garden adjacent to an arboretum with outdoor art exhibits and small live music venues in parks (I did like the amphitheater with the current plan). Also, the plan that was proposed had not yet been reviewed by DOT, so make sure that DOT knows how the plan will impact traffic. Finally, we should be redeveloping our residential zones and not turning Harborplace into a residential area, but we also need to figure out alternatives for surrounding commercial buildings that are no longer in demand. If Harborplace has 18.7 acres, all 18.7 acres should be for public use.

A: I want to reverse the population decline, which threatens our financial sustainability. Decrease property taxes to comparable rates. I want to extend additional property tax credits to seniors living on fixed incomes, all veterans, not just veterans declared 100% disabled, as well as active duty military. This would bring in more federal dollars while attracting the best citizens our country has. We have the Coast Guard, but we also have Edgewood and Aberdeen Proving Grounds to the north, Fort Meade to the south, and Martin’s to the east. We want our seniors to be able to afford to live here. This can provide stability with households that only have one income and cannot support daycare. To get the best workers, fill vacancies, and encourage them to live here, offer incentives for all City employees, not just police, firefighters, and teachers. To promote the arts, have incentives for live music twelve times per year or art galleries and shows four times per year. To encourage business owners to live here and hire City residents, having a compounding effect to increase City revenue, have a tiered incentive for employing 5, 10, and 20 City residents (FTEs) to be used towards residential property.

A: We need smaller, incremental changes over a longer period of time to allow for other forms of revenue to catch up, avoiding shortfalls (not six years). My proposal is a 0.1% rate reduction each year over ten years. My fellow Democrats are squeamish when they hear tax cuts. We think of regressive federal tax cuts that Republicans enacted while increasing deficit spending. As a CPA who has studied Tax Policy but who is a Progressive Democrat, I will be the leader who molds consensus. 2.248% is too high. It hurts people of all incomes. It impacts rents and prices. Baltimore County is 1.1%. The other jurisdictions surrounding us are even lower. I will seek a reduction from 2.248% to 1.25%, so it will still be the highest rate. As the rate decreases, we need to increase other forms of revenue. Most are products of population, so if we focus on policies to reverse population decline, revenue can increase. Our second highest source is the State Income Piggyback Tax, and if we have more people living here, it could be the number one source, but if we address vacant properties and PILOTs, that is additional revenue.

A: No, I will focus on this position in my first year. If I do any CPA work on the side to be able to afford my mortgage and living expenses, it will be to help minority business owners and prospective entrepreneurs. If we look at the minority populations of Baltimore City that actually make up the majority of a diverse population, 61% Black and 6% Hispanic (many of whom live in District 1), there is a high degree of entrepreneurship. As an auditor turned controller for small businesses, I have the skills to represent small business and economic development, but I also have the ability to help lead our youth and young adults to success at the ground level. I need to be elected so I can help turn this City around and be an asset to City Council and City Government, District 1, Baltimore City, and the Greater Metropolitan Area.

A: I want to implement policy to increase parental involvement to support our youth. I have served as a Rec Council President and Treasurer, and run soccer programs. In other jurisdictions, Rec Councils are the nonprofit arm to Rec & Parks, which also has joint use agreements with Schools. We now have four Rec Councils and over thirty Stewards of Parks in Baltimore City, but this is dwarfed by the number in other Maryland Counties. Churches and PALS (police sports league) used to fulfill this role in the City. I will work to expand the number of Rec Councils throughout our 275 neighborhoods and increase parental involvement throughout the City. It is parents who serve on Rec Council Boards. It is parents who run the leagues and programs. It is parents who coach their kids. And, as we increase parental involvement with Rec Councils, we should expand the Judy Center model at our schools, utilizing the current infrastructure to serve as community centers and providing wrap-around services where needed. Baltimore City has 11 Judy Centers, but we can have more. We can hire parents to work at these locations, offer free daycare and tutor services, and provide additional learning and program opportunities.

A: Not only am I the most qualified candidate for District 1 for City Council, but I am the most qualified person running for any City Government position. I am a CPA, Treasurer, and Controller. I am an Auditor, and I will examine Budget to Actuals and ensure Revenue Management exists, that we are not losing HUD funding or Federal Highway Reimbursements as examples of past mistakes. This City is in desperate need for greater accountability. I will provide that. Our City is the number two city in the country for population loss, and I will fight everyday to reverse that. I have served as Public Safety Chair for Canton for seven years and on the CRC with the Southeast Police District. I will hire a Social Worker to be with me on the streets everyday, engaging with youth, making sure that they are in school and programs, engaging with the homeless, those suffering from addiction and mental health issues, making sure they are getting the help they need, and engaging with each block, spreading the block captain program to the rest of the District and City. Finally, as an Eagle Scout, I will help other people at all times.

A photo of Mark Parker sitting on steps wearing a gray suit jacket, a light blue shirt, dark blue slacks, and brown shoes.
Mark Parker is a candidate for the Baltimore City Council in the 1st District. (Handout)

Name: Mark Parker

Age: 42

Personal: Married, with two children.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, history and government and politics, University of Maryland, College Park; master’s degree, divinity, United Lutheran Seminary; master’s degree, nonprofit management, University of Baltimore.

Experience: Pastor, Breath of God Lutheran Church (15 years); chaplain, University of Maryland Medical Center; Boards of Directors: Southeast Community Development Corporation, The Highlandtown Preschool, the Clinton Street Community Center, the Highlandtown Community Association, the Exchange Club of Highlandtown & Canton, the Hispanic Commission of the City of Baltimore.

Endorsements: Baltimore Teachers Union, City Councilman Zeke Cohen (1st District), Comptroller Bill Henry, state Del. Luke Clippinger, Sierra Club, former Councilperson James Kraft, former state Del. Carolyn Krysiak, CASA in Action, Clean Water Action, Progressive Maryland, 32BJ SEUI, Jews United for Justice, AFSCME Maryland.

Notable donors: Comptroller Bill Henry, Franchesca Empandas Café, Zac Blanchard, Josh Fannon, Doug Schmidt.

A: No, I strongly oppose this ballot measure. The case against it is straightforward: fewer districts mean less responsiveness from elected officials and less ability of those elected officials to be engaged on a granular level in community concerns. It also makes running for office more expensive and limits the viability of a community-based campaign. The biggest driver of campaign costs is the size of the universe of voters — in terms of pieces of mail which need to be sent, and the number of doors to be knocked. Cutting down to eight has nothing to do with right-sizing the council (there’s a case to be made for twelve members). Instead, it is a power play by the major donor class in Baltimore. Fewer districts mean fewer candidates running more expensive campaigns, magnifying the power of the donor class. Combine that with the term limit change, and now the donor class has an opportunity to buy a new councilperson every two cycles in each district. First-time candidates trying to build name recognition across a larger district are particularly dependent on major donors who can bundle lots of max donations, as opposed to established and trusted elected officials.

A: On the front end, this is about housing supply. We need more housing to be built, and rebuilt, in different forms and across diverse communities. Growth in housing stock can’t be concentrated in one or two districts and shouldn’t be dominated by one housing type (“luxury” apartments), without significantly skewing the market. Our tax incentives sometimes stoke these distortions (the High-Performance Market-Rate Rental Housing Property Tax Credit, for example, which tilts projects in favor of “luxury”). Incentives can also lead to broader-based investment in renovation across the city (like expanding CHAP credit eligibility and participation to more communities, including those which have experienced disinvestment). On the back end, there are a variety of housing market interventions which introduce and sustain affordability. The new inclusionary housing law holds great promise for introducing long-term affordability in multi-family projects. Low Income Tax Credit projects help to fill gaps in communities and increase density by building affordable rental complexes on currently vacant land. Meanwhile, community land trusts offer a participatory path toward permanent affordability along with community transformation. Finally, expanding homeownership naturally helps affordability, as families build wealth and it does not leave them vulnerable to significant rent increases during times of high inflation.

A: We need to significantly increase city and state investment in residential redevelopment across Baltimore. In many distressed neighborhoods, the acquisition and construction costs for vacant homes are substantially higher than what the property could sell for on the market (the “appraisal gap”). This gap, averaging between $50k and $75k per modest Baltimore rowhouse (depending on the neighborhood), prevents for-profit and non-profit organizations from entering the market. Public funds need to cover the appraisal gap to jump-start vacant redevelopment. Once the market has been stabilized, the subsidy is pulled back and developers will continue to work in the area while also being able to sell properties at a profit. The city needs to streamline the property acquisition and disposition process so that we can gain clear title to vacant homes and dispose of those homes to people who will bring them to a finished state. The city construction permitting process has been maddeningly slow for several years. Each month of delay in completing a renovation significantly increases costs for the owners, and slows down progress generally all across the city. This needs to change. We should institute a new higher tax rate on vacant properties (see my answer to question #5).

Q: Do you support the Harborplace plans as proposed? Please explain your answer.

A: The Harborplace plans would have been better if they had been developed through a robust process of public input (led by City and community leaders, not by the developer) and thorough public review. We had no genuine public engagement process led by our public leaders. And the official review process was rushed and shallow. The level of leadership we have seen from our elected officials on Harborplace has not matched the significance of this property for the future of the city. In short — process matters. Taking shortcuts, or just going through the motions of public engagement and oversight, inherently results in weaker proposals. Strengths include: the expansion of green space and public space; climate resiliency being a key design consideration; more space for public transportation, walking, and cycling; the design, scale, and function of the two commercial buildings along Pratt Street. Weaknesses include: The scale of the residential buildings along Light Street. The absence of the former News American site (parking lot on Pratt Street, also owned by MCB) from the plan. That site would be ideal for a taller residential structure, consistent with the existing scale of development and the master plan for the Inner Harbor.

A: Assuming a positive outcome to legislation being considered in Annapolis, I’ll develop and introduce legislation making use of Baltimore’s new power to institute a higher tax rate for vacant properties. Stabilizing and renewing devastated communities across our city is our highest priority, and vacant properties help drive that devastation. They are key to rebuilding our city. This isn’t about revenue generation. It is intended to promote three outcomes for vacant property: 1) development to a finished state by the current owners; 2) sale of vacant properties to new owners who will bring them up to a finished state; 3) seizure by the city due to unpaid tax bills, allowing the city to dispose of the property into the hands of owners who have the capacity and plan to bring them up to a finished state. Predatory investing from out of town in Baltimore residential communities actively harms our communities and slows down our progress as a city. Predatory investing includes purchasing vacant or marginal properties with no intention or action toward repairing or improving them, but instead to hold them in a state of disrepair until the community improvs enough that the properties could be sold at a major profit.

A: Renew Baltimore’s proposal would be devastating for the city. It is a reckless and dishonest attempt by wealthy individuals to absolve themselves of any sense of shared responsibility for the well-being of their neighbors and of the city overall. It is important that we decrease the property tax rate over time. But that has to happen alongside revenue increases that allow us to make real investments in our communities while also converting some small portion of those revenue increases into property tax relief. There is no legitimate tax-cutting proposal which can operate independently of our budget process. That is to say, a ballot initiative in November which slashes property tax rates while leaving the spending cuts until the next budget cycle in June is irrational, undemocratic, and imprudent. It is just a big lie to voters, promising them massively decreased taxes while avoiding any mention of the consequences for public safety, public education, our libraries, our parks, our solid waste, our water and wastewater, or our public health. Meanwhile, the wealthy backers of this initiative will take their tax savings and spend some on private schools, private security, private trash pickup, and private pools. It is inequitable and self-serving.

A: No, serving on the City Council, with my colleagues and alongside my neighbors, will be my full time job. I will continue to be connected with my congregation in a small, supportive role, with some compensation. We are currently searching for my replacement as full-time pastor, and hope to have that person on board by September 1st to allow for some overlap and transition time this fall.

A: We should work closely with the state Department of Education, Baltimore City Schools, and private early childhood providers to take full advantage of Blueprint funding for expanded PreK-4 and PreK-3 options for families. We should be closely engaged with the renovation/rebuilding processes at Douglass, Western, Poly, and City, in order to minimize disruption to current students and to ensure that the new and renovated buildings will meet the needs of students now and in future generations. We should expand opportunities for arts education and participation, and youth sports programming, offered through Recreation & Parks and through our middle schools. Our students lack significant opportunity compared to students in other jurisdictions, and suffer from the disparity.

A: I have the breadth and depth of leadership experience to be effective in this key public service role in our city. My personal and professional work has taken me into the midst of family and community crises. I’ve worked alongside individuals dealing with the worst Baltimore has to offer. I’ve worked to help educate children and support families. I’ve worked collaboratively with neighbors on many initiatives to strengthen our communities. Those efforts have included early childhood education, youth employment, public schools, recreation and parks, refugee resettlement, public safety, vacant housing, public health, immigrant affairs, community redevelopment, environmental concerns, and neighborhood commercial development. I have the organizational and administrative skills to build and manage a proactive team and to develop efficient processes for delivering constituent services and responding effectively to community needs, short-term and long-term. I know and I have what it takes to show up with and for our neighbors every day. To solve problems alongside them. To help them achieve their goals, for themselves and their families. I am wholly committed to public service alongside my neighbors, so that together we can build the communities and the city we need for ourselves and for those who come after us.