Inauguration of the 73rd City Council
City Council President Nick J. Mosby:
"We can do more. We must do more. You can expect more from your Council"
BALTIMORE, MD (December 10, 2020) - With the inauguration of the 73rd City Council on Thursday, Council President Nick J. Mosby shared his vision for a better Baltimore. Under his leadership, the council will use data analysis to shape robust policy solutions -- based on evidence and not emotion -- to go about reversing the legacy of structural racism that has caused devastating consequences for generations.
Although the brief inaugural ceremony was closed to the public, the accompanying video gave the public access to the celebration. The video highlighted kids from across the city and gave the entire incoming City Council an opportunity to showcase iconic businesses, beautiful city visas and historic landmarks in their districts.
The video was an opportunity to connect and engage the public virtually as the surging coronavirus pandemic makes it unsafe for people to gather together in celebration. In place of the usual pomp and circumstances, the video provided Baltimoreans a chance to engage through virtual watch parties and social media platforms.
The video was aired on Charm TV and produced by Storyfarm.
As is common for inaugurations, the Council President created a 501(c)4 that was vetted by both the law and ethics departments. Like Gov. Larry Hogan, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski and elected officials throughout Maryland, Council President Mosby funded the inaugural activities through an IRS-approved social welfare organization. Financial contributions will be disclosed through the official filing process. About $30,000 was raised for the inaugural events.
No city money was used in the inauguration.
Please find the video on YouTube and the council’s social media. The Council President's prepared remarks are below.
Baltimore. I am honored and humbled to be your City Council President. I intentionally emphasize "your" because I and my colleagues on the City Council work for you!
To God our Father, who makes all things possible. To my elected colleagues both past and present, and on whose shoulders I stand… I would like to thank, acknowledge and commend my former seatmates on the City Council floor, Mayor Brandon Scott and Comptroller Bill Henry, for their commitment to the citizens of Baltimore.
Who knew 10 years ago the three of us would be standing here in these positions?
To my colleagues on the 73rd Baltimore City Council: Congratulations to each of you and your families. I am incredibly blessed to take this journey with you as my partners in progress.
To the people of Baltimore: As I assume the mantle of president of your City Council, I deeply understand the importance of the opportunity but — moreover, I understand the importance of this moment!
When I think about what this council has the potential to accomplish, I think about the transformative change that is needed and that we, as council, should strive to achieve in the lives of Baltimoreans like Ms. Mary Williams.
Ms. Williams lived in what was once a regal neighborhood with large three-story rowhouses and broad, tree-lined streets in West Baltimore. Ms. Williams wasn’t a wealthy woman, but she was a hard worker who saved her money and invested in a piece of the American Dream.
To her dismay, decades later that American Dream was no more. The middle class, especially in Black communities, started to rapidly vanish, as deindustrialization of Baltimore took its final course and manufacturing jobs like those at Bethlehem Steel were a thing of the past. Unemployment rates begin to rise and population fall.
Ms. Williams’ home and its beautiful backdrop was her biggest investment. It was her safety net, her savings account and its walls held a lifetime of memories that unfortunately also afforded her a front row seat to watch it all decay.
I remember standing in the house adjacent to Ms. Williams’ home and looking up at the sky. That’s right: The roof had collapsed. Water damage was an understatement and rodents, mold, and decay were the only occupants.
My electrical engineering brain got to working and with a clear sense of hope, optimism and vision for the potential of this once beautiful neighborhood, I decided to buy that vacant home, right next to Ms. Williams.
At the time, I didn’t know Ms. Williams. Never even heard of her. But my sense of optimism and her sense of frustration were literally connected by a brick wall.
In this dilapidated house that sat empty for 20 years, I saw the promise of our city. When others couldn’t see past the blight, I could only see the potential of the city that I love.
This is Baltimore’s story.
The potential of our city is immense and yet the violence, the poverty and the blight, have for far too long created negative realities and perceptions of our great city. And victimized those like Ms. Williams in neighborhoods all across Baltimore.
I stand today to tell you that these ills and this all-too-pervasive perception are not
Problems have solutions and you elected us to be problem-solvers and in partnership with the public and private sectors; local, state and federal government, our philanthropic institutions, our faith community and most importantly, the residents of Baltimore, we took an oath to God to not have the job but to do the job and we are ready to do just that.
Many of the afflictions we deal with today were created through policy.
This very body — the Baltimore City Council — enacted the nation’s first racial zoning law in 110 years ago. Its passage restricted Black families from moving into white neighborhoods. The New York Times called it the “most pronounced ‘Jim Crow’ measure on record” and billed the effort as Baltimore’s “drastic plan of race segregation.”
Another strategy of this intentional economic apartheid was the infamous 1937 redlining map in which neighborhoods were color-coded to guide mortgage lenders in granting loans. Black neighborhoods were marked in red and labeled, of course, the riskiest place to lend money.
Then urban renewal hit and families like mine in communities like Franklin Square were harassed, forcibly displaced, and literally run over by highways to nowhere. Streets were widened, neighborhoods were split, and infrastructures was constructed to create opportunities of displacement and demarcations between the have and have-nots.
If you know the history of our city then you should understand and recognize the consequences of these Ill-fated policies that manifest themselves to this very day: kids dodging traffic, hustling to eat; the addiction strangling our residents; the residual trauma tied to the murders; the working poor juggling two and three jobs and not being able to pay their utility bills and rent and being forced to navigate a broken and deficient mass transit system just to try to get to work.
The conditions that Ms. Williams endured were a direct result of policy shaped by bigotry on systematic platforms of white supremacy.
We can change this daunting reality for so many people in Baltimore but it’s going to take vision. It’s going to take collaboration. It’s going to take evidence-based solutions — and a sense of optimism that will allow us as a legislative body to address some of the most pressing systemic and fundamental problems of our time.
We are here to make policy. And policy can no longer be the disease; it must be the prescription.
Good public policy is what will begin to eradicate the structural racism that creates health and economic disparities. Good public policy will create safe spaces for our children to learn and to play. Good public policy will help create opportunities for employment and small business creation and growth. Good public policy will create and expand smart transportation options for our citizens and visitors.
Good public policy is not the stuff of unicorns or some surreal cosmic explosion. We don’t need a miracle to change and improve conditions in Baltimore. We need a legislative process that will:
- take a good idea to solve a problem
- analyze the data and research best practices
- be deliberate about unintended consequences
- and put forth a sound, fiscally responsible, evidence-based solution.
This is how this Council, under my leadership, will work.
We will engage in strong legislative action with a comprehensive and impartial vetting of facts and data to enhance our historical focus on constituent services. As your Councilmembers, we will passionately be dedicated to the highest level of constituent services, intervening when you need help with city services.
But we can do more. We must do more. You can expect more from your Council.
We are the closest representatives to you. We’re here to help when government doesn’t work for you the way it should and we are also here to confront Baltimore’s systemic problems with broad, meaningful solutions tailored to our city’s needs with direct input from residents who live, work, play and pray in all parts of our city.
You can expect that I will work diligently with our Mayor Brandon Scott and Comptroller Bill Henry.
Our successes and the progress we make for you will happen because of one another and not because we are in competition with one another. These are my friends and my brothers and I am excited to get to work with them on your behalf.
Our persistent challenges combined with the coronavirus crisis makes it imperative for collaboration and partnership among city leaders now more than ever. We must disavow unnecessary tribalism and be grounded in an equitable belief that one part of the city doesn’t have to suffer for another part to prosper.
The city ended the 2020 fiscal year with a $14.3 million deficit and projects more than $100 million in revenue losses this year. Unemployment in Baltimore reached over 10% in October and signs point to it getting even worse as COVID surges again.
We don’t have a dollar to spare or a moment to waste.
Look, we all know that too often petty personal agendas and debilitating short-sightedness has all too often characterized our city’s politics and created a government that produces good headlines for The Baltimore Sun and entertaining chatter for social media but not enough progress for our city.
The stakes are too high and the needs are too great to squander this opportunity and this moment. Baltimore deserves better. I am here to give you my best and to bring to bear all the love and appreciation for this city and the people who call Baltimore home.
You know me. We grew up together. We work together. You stood in line with me waiting to take a picture with Santa Luke at Mondawmin. We hooped at BNBL together. We were classmates at Chinquapin. You sat next to me and my mom and sister in the pew at St. Matthews. You remember the routine of Paradox on Friday night, Eutaw Street on Saturday night, and meeting at the Druid Hill Park every summer Sunday. You either cheered for me or booed me at the Poly/City game. We spent summers together at Gilman Upward Bound. You sat next to me at our daughters’ dance recital or supported the girls’ Mount Washington Soccer Club with me. No matter where you grew up or where you live now, this is our Baltimore.
We are neighbors. We are friends. We are family. I ask you to hold me accountable to the oath I swore to God and to this promise I make to you: The 73rd Baltimore City Council will bring change to your lives for the better, for the collective good.
We cannot be the great city of our hearts until every resident has the real opportunity to prosper. The little girl dreaming about her future from her bedroom in Reservoir Hill should have the same opportunities for success as the child across the street Bolton Hill.
The little boy playing in Carroll Park should have the same environmental protections as his peer in Patterson Park. The families on Biddle Street need to see values in their homes rise the same way as those on Charles Street. The moms and dads and kids in Dolfield need to feel as safe on their front porch as those in Medfield do.
Our problems are great but so is our potential and our promise!
We must acknowledge the past and push toward the future. Just like I saw the promise in Mrs. Harris’s neighborhood and I see it in yours with a clear sense of hope, optimism and vision. And like one of my great heroes, the late Congressman Elijah Cummings said often – “I see you”!
We are one. I am you and you are me: Nick Mosby, Marilyn’s husband, Nylyn and Aniyah’s father and, yes, Eunice Orange’s son.
I am here because I'm motivated to make progress that called on me to leave corporate America and to fight for local politics, it’s the unfinished business that I owe my mom, Eunice Orange to ensure that the people of Baltimore get a government that lives up to the promises that are often unfulfilled, disregarded and woefully short of what we deserve as hard working residents.
I'm here so that my daughters, Nylyn and Aniyah, have more opportunities, less disappointments and safer, more just and more equitable Baltimore than generations past. I want for your children the exact same thing as I want for mine: the opportunity to pursue their wildest dreams and loftiest aspirations and I will work every day to deliver a government that does more to make that possible for all of our children.
I don’t have all of the answers and this council won’t solve every problem facing the neighborhoods and families of our city, but I can assure you that you can be confident that every morning we will wake up fighting for you and fighting with you, because I am you.
I know what it's like to not have enough and to desperately want more. I know what it's like to have an opportunity to do better but still feel disappointed because that opportunity isn't there for every kid on my block. I know what it's like to come up short but I also know what it's like to fight, scratch and claw to make a way for my family. I love Baltimore and I promise that we will make change and make progress and we will do it together.
It’s my job to work with the council comptroller and mayor but we need you now more than ever.
1. Tune into the City Council meetings so we aren’t meeting in the dark
2. You are Policy
3. Be proud of the neighborhoods you live in, neighborhoods are fingers, connecting is a hand and knock the persistent issues with a fist together
Baltimore: Let’s get to work and lift every voice!
Deputy Director of Communications
Office of City Council President Nick J. Mosby