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 3rd District includes Northeast Baltimore neighborhoods such as Belair-Edison, Hamilton Hills, Lauraville, Morgan Park, and Original Northwood.

Look up your City Council district here.


A photo of Margo Bruner-Settles wearing a black suit jacket and orange shirt in a studio with a tan background.
Margo Bruner-Settles is a candidate for the Baltimore City Council in District 3. (Handout)

Name: Margo Bruner-Settles

Age: 42

Personal: Married, has one 2-year-old son, one 20-year-old stepdaughter. Lives in Lauraville.

Education: Graduate of Venice High School; bachelor’s and master’s degrees, social work, University of South Florida; attending University of Baltimore for a doctorate in public administration.

Experience: Licensed certified social worker-clinical (LCSW-C), chief of the Employee Assistance Program.

Endorsements: Del. Stephanie Smith.

Notable donors: Derrick Wells Sr., Melanie Wells and Rashanda Webber, who donated $6,000 each; Michael Wells, who donated $5,500.

Did not respond to the candidate questionnaire.

A photo of Marques Dent wearing a dark gray suit, red and silver tie, and a red and silver pocket square. He's seated in a studio with a light gray background.
Marques Dent is a candidate for the Baltimore City Council in District 3. (Handout)

Name: Marques Dent

Age: Did not respond.

Personal: Born in Ednor Gardens-Lakeside.

Education: Graduate of St. Paul’s School for Boys; bachelor’s degree, Tennessee State University; master’s degree, information technology management at Webster University.

Experience: Founder of D.E.N.T Group (Delivering Educational Needs Together); board of directors member for Northwood Baseball League and National Association of Black Veterans; presidential courier at the Pentagon; 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force;

Endorsements: None.

Notable donors: Former Sheriff John Anderson.


A: No.

A: Streamlined Permitting Processes: Simplify and expedite the permitting process for affordable housing projects to reduce development costs and timelines. Inclusionary Housing Policies: Mandate that a certain percentage of units in new developments be designated as affordable housing or contribute to a fund for affordable housing development. Housing Trust Funds: Establish dedicated funding sources, such as a housing trust fund, to finance the development and preservation of affordable housing. Transit-Oriented Development: Prioritize affordable housing development near public transportation hubs to reduce transportation costs for residents.

A: Vacant Property Data Management: Utilize technology and data analytics to track and monitor vacant properties, identify ownership information, and prioritize intervention strategies. Vacant Property Conversion Programs: Explore opportunities to convert vacant properties into community gardens, parks, urban farms, or other beneficial uses that enhance neighborhood aesthetics and functionality. Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives: Implement targeted revitalization efforts in distressed neighborhoods, including infrastructure improvements, economic development incentives, and community services. Vacant Property Security Measures: Implement measures to secure vacant properties to prevent vandalism, illegal dumping, and other criminal activities that can further deteriorate neighborhoods. Public Awareness Campaigns: Launch campaigns to raise awareness about the impacts of vacant properties on neighborhoods and encourage residents to report vacant properties to city authorities.

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A: I work in the non-profit sector providing resources to underserved communities. I will continue to support community based initiatives and programs.

A: One new initiative the Council could consider to support young people is establishing a Youth Advisory Council (YAC). A YAC provides a platform for young people to actively participate in local governance, voice their concerns, and contribute to decision-making processes that directly affect them. Here’s how a YAC could operate: Representation: The YAC would consist of young people from diverse backgrounds, representing different neighborhoods, schools, and communities within the city. Advocacy and Policy Development: The YAC would serve as an advisory body to the City Council, advocating for policies and initiatives that address the needs and interests of young people. Members would have the opportunity to research issues, propose solutions, and make recommendations to policymakers. Community Engagement: The YAC would engage with young people through outreach events, town hall meetings, and social media platforms to gather input, raise awareness about civic issues, and encourage youth participation in local government.

A: As a Veteran I have demonstrated a commitment to serving our country and have often made significant personal sacrifices in doing so. This dedication to a cause larger than oneself can translate into a strong sense of duty and responsibility to serve the public interest as an elected official. Military service has instilled leadership qualities such as discipline, integrity, and the ability to make difficult decisions under pressure. As a Veteran I have experience leading diverse teams and working collaboratively towards common goals, which are essential skills for effective political leadership.

Headshot of City Councilman Ryan Dorsey smiling, wearing a black shirt and multicolored ballcap.
3rd District City Councilman Ryan Dorsey (Courtesy of Ryan Dorsey)

Name: Ryan Dorsey

Age: 42

Personal: Married, lives in Mayfield.

Education: Baltimore School for the Arts; Bachelor of Music in composition at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.

Experience: Represented the 3rd District on City Council since 2016. Home theater and home audio system sales and installation, mostly, interspersed with jobs in construction materials sales and home improvement.

Endorsements: Metro Baltimore AFL-CIO, AFSCME Maryland Council 3, Sierra Club of Maryland, Baltimore City Firefighters and Fire Officers, 1199SEIU, Unite Here Local 7, Eastern Atlantic States Carpenters

Notable donors: Constellation Energy, Christopher Kingsley, a director at Annie E. Casey Foundation; MECU Credit Union; Jed Weeks, Bikemore interim director.


A: No. It addresses no substantive problem and makes no objective improvement. By the main proponent’s own admission, the number is completely arbitrary. Worse, it’s a distraction from the actual change that we should be making to the City Council, which is to do away with the at-large election of the City Council President. It is a terrible aberration of democratic norms for the public to elect one at-large member to exercise unilateral powers over all the other members. Virtually every legislative body in the world is led by one member chosen by a majority of members, to speak for them and preside. The public doesn’t vote on the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate at either the State or Federal levels, and other local jurisdictions don’t elect their Council President the way we do. With Baltimore’s exceptional Strong Mayor system and this independently empowered Council President, what we have is not a system of checks and balances between two branches, but rather political rivalry or alliances between an actual executive and a pseudo-executive. Instead, we should add a 15th District, let the members choose one member to preside, and then rotate that leadership every two years.

A: Build more housing in every neighborhood and at every price point. There’s plenty of housing that would be affordable if the value wasn’t being driven up by demand outpacing supply, and there are plenty of places where we could be adding high-quality housing inexpensively, so that it’s affordable without quota mandates or subsidies. If only we would stop prohibiting it. 70% of the residential zoned land in the city today is prohibited from ever providing any more housing than already exists today. That means that we need to meet all of our current needs and all future demand on just 30% of the residential land and on commercial properties that allow for many other necessary uses. We are so constrained by this that the types of housing, and places where housing can be constructed, cannot possibly meet our needs. The result is that we have manufactured scarcity, and basic economic market principles have driven up the cost of housing–rents, sales prices, and taxes–for everyone. We need zoning reform that will allow for more diverse and efficient housing throughout the city. That’s why I’ve introduced the Abundant Housing Act, to get us out of our own way.

A: Stay the course, and more. We’re making progress in reducing the number of vacants, but need zoning reform to remove a key barrier. The same bill I referenced in the previous question, the Abundant Housing Act, also addresses a key part of renovating vacant dwelling structures at scale. Where we have the greatest concentration of vacancy, the cost to renovate is often $250-300k per rowhome, but the market doesn’t support profitable resale afterward in these neighborhoods, and these neighborhoods aren’t attracting higher income families to rehab single dwellings to live (and be under water) in. The only financially viable way to renovate enough at scale is to convert single dwellings into multiple units. We allow it already, but require passage of an ordinance to permit each individual one. If I want to renovate and convert eight houses on a block, I need to have eight ordinances introduced and passed. This costs time and money and significantly deters investment and stifles progress. The Abundant Housing Act removes this barrier and creates a sensible framework to allow single- to multi-unit conversions by right, using square footage as a determination as to how many units are permissible at a given property.

A: No. The best part of the “plan” (actually just a concept), and the only part I’m convinced is necessary and in the public interest, is everything the developer won’t pay for. Simply eliminating the Calvert Street spur and highway-like conditions on Pratt and Light, and adding seating and tree canopy to the promenade, would likely cause the area to thrive without the kinds of buildings and uses that are proposed. The public should undertake these changes, and only then decide what if anything else needs to change. The housing will cost taxpayers an arm and a leg, to subsidize the rent gap on inclusionary units in the most expensive housing in the city. This will undermine our ability to afford to subsidize a far greater number of units at any lower price point. The above-ground parking will be hideous. They plan to “screen” it in some way that seeks to be interesting, but which will actually have an aesthetic shelf life of about five seconds. I’m as pro-housing development as they come, and I think public parks are not where housing belongs. Imagine how laughable it would be to suggest that Patterson Park couldn’t thrive without highrises in it.

A: Since the Abundant Housing Act isn’t going to pass this term, I’ll certainly be reintroducing it next term, for reasons already discussed here. Nothing is more essential to the City’s ability to rebuild our population and tax base, desegregate neighborhoods, and responsibly address rising property taxes and rents than zoning reform that will allow more housing to be built. I’ll also reintroduce my bill to create a Department of Business Licensing and Consumer Protection. This bill creates the authority and infrastructure to properly license businesses, ensure that licensing conditions are upheld, and centralize consumer complaints where they can be locally investigated and acted upon. No such authority or personnel infrastructure exists today. Instead, we have a chaotic and bloated system of boards that rarely meet or are even fully staffed, and are subject to the direct influence of the very entities they are intended to regulate. Local jurisdictions that approach business licensing in a professionalized way are of great public benefit. This proposal is modeled after Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection.

A: No. Slashing the rate is a gamble that risks the City’s ability to meet revenue needs to provide basic City services that we already struggle to fund. Poor people would benefit the least and be harmed the most. Landlords who have already raised rents to meet the current market rate will not lower rents, they’ll just enjoy greater profits. The reckless and wealthy proponents of this measure, without any actual evidence, blame disinvestment and population loss on taxes. In reality, the 2020 Census showed that we actually increased our total number of households. Also in 2020, Live Baltimore reported sufficient market demand to grow our population by at least 5300 households annually, if only the dwelling units were created. We have more demand than supply, so we see an increased value of existing stock, and therefore rising assessments and tax bills. The only responsible and appropriate response is to address assessments, not the rate. This can only be done by increasing supply. Housing is being built where it’s possible, but most of the City prohibits new housing from being built. Zoning reform is necessary to remove critical barriers to adequate housing production.

A: No. I have always been committed to having only one job, serving the people of this district and this city. It was a clear campaign promise in my first election in 2016, and I have upheld that promise. I don’t see how I could call myself a public servant, but not solely dedicate myself to this work, which pays more than the city’s median household income. I could very easily spend less time advocating on constituents’ behalf, researching public policy, reviewing data and reports, requesting information and answers from agencies, calling and texting the Mayor for funding, responding to emails … I could easily push more onto my staff. But I’m good at this work and dedicated to it, and there’s nothing I want more than to be spending my time making the city better for us all. I have gone to extreme and often unconventional lengths to serve my district and improve the City. I’ve climbed in manholes, cut down trees, waded into a swamp, demolished a shed, directed traffic, and so much more that I couldn’t do if I had some other job tying me down. I’m here to do everything possible, and I love it.

A: Young people need autonomy. Nothing is more empowering than the freedom of mobility. Young people need to be able to safely, easily, and affordably get around to see friends, visit recreation centers, get to school and work, or just explore city neighborhoods and parks. The City Council could show leadership by championing the rapid build out of the bicycle master plan. This would be new as a departure from the unconcern and outright opposition that’s been more characteristic of certain members. Young people deserve better than leadership that echoes and capitulates to those who would have us resist doing what works everywhere else in the world to create safer and more opportune communities. Young people already rely heavily on scooters for transportation, but are in large part relegated to either sidewalks where they pose a risk to pedestrians, or unsafe roads that pose a personal risk to them. Given real mobility options, today’s young people will be tomorrow’s beneficiaries and champions of a city that’s made safer and more affordable simply through being made walkable.

A: I love this city and I love the third district. I love representing the people and want to keep doing it. I’ve made the City more transparent and helped it work better for you. With critical legislation on good governance and public accountability, transportation, fair housing, consumer protection, and a host of code changes to allow for improved City service outcomes, I have a strong record of accomplishment on your behalf. I’ve also worked closely with City agencies and the several Mayoral administrations to bring about policy change and operational improvements, and to deliver big community investments. Some of these things have been enacted and are paying dividends. Some still need work. I bring an earnest and often unique perspective to a wide range of issues, and I maintain a high bar in constituent service and open accessibility. Most agree with me on certain things and not others, but what nobody can deny is that I’m hard working, straight talking, independent, and dedicated to making the city better. Change takes time. As a lifelong District 3 resident, I’m proud of the work I’ve done and thankful for the opportunity. There’s much more to do, and I’m here for it.