Between teaching and a successful political career, Mary Pat Clarke has found a way to combine her passion for education and the community by running for the 14th district city council.
The Rhode Island-born Democratic candidate has served on the city council for more than 16 years, including representing the 2nd district for nine years. In 1987, she made history by becoming the first woman to ever be elected president of the Baltimore City Council.
Clarke shared why she believes it is important for women to be in politics.
“Women bring a different perspective, especially in the community,” she said. “It’s natural for us to care about education and our children. Women have two full-time jobs, at work and at home.”
She took her position as the president of the Baltimore City Council as a learning experience. She felt a tremendous amount of responsibility to do a good job. When she first began in the city council, she remembers there only being three other women out of 19.
“I wanted to serve as an example that women can hold high positions,” she said. “I think I broke a barrier for good. Women are being accepted more now.”
Campaign supporter Linda Eberhart recalls Clarke’s “dynamic” persona as one of the few women serving on the city council in the 70s and 80s.
“She never gives up,” Eberhart said. “She’s a problem solver and connects with everyone. She became a role model for women, especially when she was the first female president in the council’s 200 year history.”
Clarke ran for mayor of Baltimore City in 1995 and loss. She then began teaching, mostly English. She taught writing at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. She learned how to balance her love for politics and teaching.
“If you’re a teacher, you already know the politics of the classroom,” she said, describing teaching. She said she never holds a position in office and teach at the same time. She likes to only focus on one or the other.
She also taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art and night school at Johns Hopkins University.
Clarke has not always been a politician at heart.
“I used to want to be a journalist. I wrote for my high school and college newspaper,” she said.
She earned an A.B. in English and a M.A. in English Literature.
She has resumed her political career this year, running for the 14th district city council against David Carter and Terrell Williams. There are many issues in this area of Baltimore City that are important to her. She wants to clean up communities filled with trash and debris. She also aims to get rid of vacant houses and either rebuild or demolish them and build new homes.
Clark wants to make home ownership affordable, as well as rental properties. A major goal of hers is to ensure that children are growing up in safe homes.
She shared a unique goal of slowing down traffic in Baltimore, in order to make the streets safe for pedestrians, the elderly and children.
Teaching has shaped her major concerns for Baltimore.
“I want to make a difference in public schools in communities and in the city,” she said. “I want to make better opportunities for the people who live here.”
Clarke lives in the 14th district with her husband Joe Clarke. She has four children and nine grandchildren.