Rawlings-Blake agrees to mayoral debates
With the field of candidates now set for Baltimore’s Democratic primary, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Wednesday agreed to participate in four public debates with her challengers in August.
In a release, the Rawlings-Blake campaign said it had secured the commitment of the Larry Young Morning Show to broadcast a radio debate on WOLB 1010 AM and was in talks with Maryland Public Television to broadcast a televised debate.
The campaign said Rawlings-Blake also would participate in two candidates’ forums, including one focused on issues affecting people with disabilities.
“Now that the field is set, I am excited to debate those who are seeking the privilege of the serving the people of Baltimore as Mayor,” Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. “This is an important election about important issues and I look forward to sharing my vision for a better, safer and stronger Baltimore.”
"It's about time," said challenger and former city planning director Otis Rolley, who has been calling for Rawlings-Blake to join debates and candidates forums for weeks.
"Everybody else has been," said challenger state Sen. Catherine Pugh. "Those of us who care about the community have been coming out."
"Part of the reason I've been pushing so hard for these debates is that I have pretty high expectations for the citizens of Baltimore," Rolley said. "Without those debates, it's hard for them to hear real substantive discussions of who has a plan and who doesn’t."
Pugh questioned why Rawlings-Blake would only agree to four debates. "People in the community have already decided they want to hear debates," she said.
Rolley said he wanted to debate education, crime, youth and jobs and economic development with the other candidates.
Pugh said she would like to debate solutions for lead paint poisoning, drug abuse and moving Baltimore "away from being a developer-driven city to a community-driven city."
Rolley, Pugh, Clerk of Court Frank M. Conaway Sr., former City Councilman Joseph T. "Jody" Landers, City Councilman Carl Stokes and activist Wilton Wilson appeared last month at a forum sponsored by the Baltimore chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Urban League and the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
The challengers have appeared at about four forums sponsored by community and civil rights groups over the past few months.
Stokes has since dropped out of the mayoral race to run for reelection to his City Council seat.
The Rawlings-Blake campaign said it would work with challengers in the next week to schedule the debates.