What people are saying in the 5th?
Kevin Ragland is convinced that voting for the candidate that will best fit the district and make a change will break the bad habits in the northwest area of Baltimore.
“My community just needs someone who will be active, “ said Ragland, who lives on Chelsea Road not far from where Freddie Gray was arrested last spring. On April 19, 2015, Gray, a 25-year-old man, died from spinal cord injuries acquired while he was in the Baltimore Police Department’s custody.
Eartha Davis is certain the district will never change.
“I don’t think they can fix any issues in my community,” said Davis, who has lived in Park Heights for over 30 years. “They been in place for so long it’s hard to just say one person can come along and just change it.”
Ragland and Davis are two of more than 30 people recently interviewed around the Park Heights and Rogers neighborhoods, where seven candidates are running for the 5th district seat on the City Council. Rochelle “Rikki” Spector has held the seat since 1977. Spector, who is retiring after 39 years, has not been living in the district for years now and instead lives in the Inner Harbor, according to the Baltimore Brew, an online newspaper.
Baltimoreans’ views ranged from having faith in the City Council official’s ability to change issues in the district to believing that the community is just set in its ways.
In the 5th district neighborhoods around Liberty Heights all the way to Northern Parkway, people struggle with issues such as a lack of recreation centers, safety on the streets, scarce amount of homeowners and limited job opportunities in the area.
“People around my neighborhood have had their run ins with the law,” said Richard Luciano, a warehouse worker at Amazon; the world’s largest online retailer and a prominent cloud services provider. “It is hard for people with records to get a job, giving them a reason to be out on the streets. That is their only option.”
Some people interviewed at Rogers station and Arlington area said it is possible to make a difference in the district despite the disadvantages.
“The City Council person can address some of the issues by coming up with a well-organized plan on how they might deal with them and see how the people like it,” said Trevon Buckhanon, a 17-year-old student at Digital Harbor High School. “They should ask questions about how we feel about things instead of assuming.”
More than half of those interviewed had no clue that the City Council primary elections are being held on April 26 in Baltimore and knew nothing about who the candidates are or what they plan to do for the district. Some of the people in the neighborhood said that they haven’t seen the candidates in the neighborhood and that his discourages some people from voting.
But they spoke on how the candidates can reach more people in the area.
“The person that holds the position of City Council for the 5th district should be more active in the area,” said Brionna Brooks, a business student at Morgan State University. “They can’t be scared to interact with the residents.”