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Yes, there are Republicans running for Baltimore mayoral slot

September 8, 2011
By

Baltimore is in the midst of two mayoral primaries: the Democratic one, which will almost certainly decide the city’s next mayor, and a rare Republican primary between two little-known candidates who have raised no money and, in one case, have been seldom seen on the hustings.

Alfred V. Griffin III, 38, is the organizer of the Baltimore Film Festival International and the father of two daughters who attend Baltimore public schools. He says he is a former president of the Medfield Heights Community Association. He moved to Baltimore with his family when he was in the third grade and attended Poly and then Loyola University, which he left short of a degree to teach English in Japan. He says he’s been to a couple of candidates’ forums but the media didn’t cover them.

Vicki Ann Harding is the other candidate. She has been vocal at several candidates’ forums but not much else is known about her. She did file a federal injunction against the city last spring to try to stop the closing of five failing public schools.

Griffin contrasts with Harding in two important ways. First, he would not immediately fire Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Andrés Alonso, as Harding pledges to do. “There are so many problems that are not the blame of anyone in the school system,” Griffin says. “It’s the challenges that are outside.” Second, Griffin comes off as a calm and measured sort, whereas Harding—at least in her debate and forum appearances—evinces an angry persona.

Harding did not respond to e-mail messages, and did not list a phone number on her candidacy form.

Here is an edited video of one of her forum appearances.

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As you can see, her theme is that corruption and racism rule Baltimore. She would fire Alonso and attack the culture of “kickbacks” at city hall.

“We have a dysfunctional community,” Harding says in the video, because of drug abuse and drug treatment that “keeps [addicts] medicated.”

Griffin says he would redirect some of the money spent on homeless services to put people in some of the city’s vacant housing units, though he has not yet done a budget analysis of that project. He also talks about creating jobs, and his big idea is building a subway system. He thinks it would cost $50 billion, and he thinks a consortium of private companies could do it if the city gave them the right to collect the fares for 30 or 50 years. “Look at how the New York subway was built—that’s how that was done,” Griffin, who was born in Brooklyn, says. “Look at the Panama Canal. A lot of the major projects that were done were done by that method.”

Griffin says he would also work to create an entrepreneur and small-business incubator with an eye toward getting job training for residents. “Part of our unemployment is structural. They don’t have skills. People need to be—I don’t want to say retooled, but retrained.”

Another Republican primary pits Armand Girard against David Anthony Wiggins for the office of City Council President.