Baltimore City primary election ballot included two openly gay city council candidates

Results are not in yet, but two gay Baltimore City Council candidates were on the ballot in June 2’s primary election.

Akil Patterson hopes to succeed Council member Shannon Sneed, who currently represents the 13th District and is in the running to become the Council’s next president, while Phillip Westry, a lawyer who represents the Maryland Center for Legal Assistance and other nonprofit organizations, is running against Council member Robert Stokes, who currently represents the 12th District.

Among those who have endorsed Patterson are, state Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City), Councilmember Eric Costello, former NAACP President Ben Jealous, Pennsylvania state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and Jason Collins, as well as The LGBTQ Victory Fund and Progressive Maryland.

As a wrestler at the University of Maryland, Patterson coached Hudson Taylor, founder of Athlete Ally, an organization that promotes acceptance of LGBTQ athletes.

Patterson, who is also a member of the Baltimore City LGBTQ Commission and the city’s HIV Planning Council, told the Washington Blade in January that sports helped him come to terms with his sexual orientation, while also stating that his experience and his work as a government and community relations specialist qualify him to join the Council.

“I understand policy,” he told the Washington Blade. “I understand where the most pressing needs for policy are.” 

“Out of all the candidates in the district we have the most endorsements and raised the most money,” said the campaign. “We have done this by running on a progressive platform that addresses crime, poverty, transparency and social determinants of health.” Campaign finance reports indicate that Patterson has raised $65,269.20 since the beginning of 2019. 

Candidate Phillip Westry has been backed by The Victory Fund, Progressive Maryland and the AFL-CIO Baltimore Metro Council, as well as by Maryland state Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City) and Council President Brandon Scott.

“Phillip Westry has been working in our community for a long time, making a real difference for Baltimore’s working families as a public interest attorney,” said McIntosh in a press release that Westry’s campaign issued on April 28. “He has the right values and experience to represent us well on the City Council.”

In the same press release, Westry says his campaign has “knocked on over 32,000 doors, canvassing the entire district four times” before the coronavirus pandemic began.

“We built a robust grassroots campaign to unseat a deeply entrenched and, by many accounts, absentee councilmember who stands in the way of meaningful progress on a host of issues at a critical moment for our city,” said Westry. “In this time of crisis, we need our representatives at all levels of government to be present and to lead.”

Campaign finance reports indicate Westry has raised $104,304.35 since the beginning of 2019, compared to $60,000 that Stokes has raised.

Follow Akil Patterson and Phillip Westry on Twitter.

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