Landers contemplates mayoral bid
Joseph T. “Jody” Landers III, vice president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors and a former Baltimore City Council member, announced Tuesday he is contemplating a run for mayor.
“I’ve grown somewhat frustrated over what I see as a lack of vision with where the city is headed,” said Landers. “The pressing needs of the city and this recession need more than a wait and see approach. We really need to put a priority on doing everything we can to grow the citys tax base and stimulate jobs.”
The web site The Investigative Voice first reported that Landers was considering a run for mayor.
Landers has long criticized the city’s property tax rate, which is the highest in the state. In 2007, under then- Mayor Sheila Dixon, Landers chaired a panel which drafted several alternative taxes that could allow the city to lower property tax rates.
Variations of some of those proposals were adopted by the city this year to fill a $121 million hole in the city’s budget, prompting objections from Landers who believes the measures should be used to reduce property taxes.
“We issued a report and explained all the reasons it is importatnt for the city to increase its tax base, but I feel as if it fell on deaf ears,” said Landers.
He added that the high property taxes dissuade both businesses and residents from moving to the city. There are curently more homes for sale in Baltimore than were sold during all of last year, he said. And the end of the housing bubble has made homes in the surrounding counties as affordable as those in the city, he said.
Landers said the city should cut expenses, investigate other revenue sources and consider sharing resources with the counties to reduce property tax rates.
“We need to make this a priority,” he said.
Landers has spoken out against the two-cent bottle tax approved by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in the spring. As a city council member Landers approved the city’s first bottle tax in the late 1980s in conjunction with Baltimore County. But when the county repealed the tax a few years later, Landers pushed to follow suit, saying it would hurt city businesses.
Other candidates planning to challenge Rawlings-Blake include Otis Rolley III, a former city planning director; Frank Conaway, the city’s longtime clerk of court; State Sen. Catherine Pugh and auto dealer owner Scott Donahoo.
Campaign finance reports which are due about a month from now will provide greater insight into the race. Candidates need to raise about $1 million to launch a successful bid for mayor in Baltimore.