Guest Commentary: Assessing Sheila Dixon’s Decision

By Hassan Giordano

Earlier this morning, former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon (D) made a lengthy and detailed statement on her decision about whether she would answer the calls for her to run for the 41st District state Senate seat, which is currently occupied by Nathaniel T. Oaks (D) – who is facing criminal charges in federal court.

Dixon, who became the first woman elected mayor of Baltimore, stated that she was honored and humbled by the hundreds of area voters who have encouraged her to jump into a race that is sure to garner plenty of attention across the state. Oaks just filed paperwork for a full term on Friday.


Hassan Giordano

The only other candidate to have filed to run for the state Senate seat is a young and energetic educator, and the son-in-law of Baltimore’s former mayor Martin J. O’Malley, J.D. Merrill. The 27-year old City College graduate is making his first run for political office, and says he’s undeterred by whomever chooses to get in the race. He says that he’s not running against anyone, but rather is running to make a difference in a district and city that has seen its share of problems over the years – the least of which being the criminal indictments of the current state senator.

A former district state delegate is rumored to be considering a run as well: Jill P. Carter, who served in the House of Delegates representing the 41st district from 2003 until January of last year, when she decided to resign her seat to take a position in the Catherine Pugh mayoral administration. She is said to be set to file her paperwork on Tuesday, the last day of filing.

Carter was the district’s top vote-getter during her three and half terms in elected office, becoming an outspoken advocate for the downtrodden and disenfranchised residents of Baltimore. But her resignation upset many of her supporters, who believed that she should have sought the open Senate seat last year when the district’s senator, Lisa A. Gladden, decided to resign due to health reasons.

Now, with Oaks in place and facing criminal charges, and Carter out of the loop over the past year, it seems to be anyone’s guess as to who can claim the district’s state Senate seat. However, Dixon’s statement made one thing clear: whoever it is, it will most certainly not be her.

“After an exhaustive two-year campaign for Mayor of the City of Baltimore, I have come to realize that I am not yet ready to put my family through another grueling political campaign,” Dixon stated in a Facebook post. “The race for state Senate is still up in the air, with an incumbent senator under federal indictment and only one filed [challenger] to-date; and I am extremely concerned as to who will step up in the coming days and weeks, to lead our district out of despair and into prosperity. And after careful consideration, and countless hours of prayer and conversations with my friends, family and loved ones; I have decided that whoever that person may be, it unfortunately will not be me.”

Dixon goes on to state that she was “inspired” by the level of engagement and commitment that she has seen from the various candidates running for state delegate in the 41st District, and said that she planned to spend the next few months helping candidates across the city that have helped her in many of her previous political campaigns.

“As a 24 year resident of the 41st district, I am looking forward to hearing the ideas and plans of the numerous candidates vying for a seat in the Md. House of Delegates. After coming across many of these terrific men and women in my travels, I am inspired by the level of engagement and commitment that they have shown thus far, and believe that our district will get beyond our current status of political turmoil once the voters of Northwest Baltimore have their say on June 26th.”

And while it looks like it will be a one-on-one contest between Carter and Merrill, there is still several days remaining for another candidate to file to run for the coveted state senate seat – possibly even a current state delegate candidate who didn’t want to run against a well-known name like Dixon? One thing is for certain, Dixon made clear in her statement that running for office in the future is certainly a possibility she’s willing to examine.

Hassan Giordano, a Democrat, is a candidate for clerk of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

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