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Mayoral candidates respond to Mayors proposed budget while one hires consultants

Catalina Byrd(l) and Otis Rolley(r)
Catalina Byrd(l) and Otis Rolley(r)
GCOMM Media Co.

Considered the ‘outside’ candidate as he is not from the City of Baltimore, yet has adopted the town as his own, Mayoral candidate Otis Rolley may have made the fatal mistake of not actually believing in the talent of his hometown.

The former City Planning Director under the O’Malley administration and Chief of Staff to Mayor Sheila Dixon recently hired multiple campaign consulting groups and a new campaign manager, none of which are from Baltimore – or even Maryland. Newly hired campaign manager Dan Fee, a Pennsylvania resident and political operative, who includes some big names in his 15-years of campaign service, says that he “wholeheartedly believes in Rolley, yet he must make a clean break from the Baltimore status quo, in order to return the city back to world-class status.”

Yet Independent Mayoral candidate Catalina Byrd says “though the strategy of hiring outsiders could be seen at first as a good tactic based on the perceived tainted and slanted politics of this town, I chose to stay within the confines of Baltimore, as I realized most outside groups and people don’t understand the integral details of Baltimore politics.” Also hired by the Rolley camp were national pollsters Harrison Hickman along with the media consulting firm known as the Campaign Group.

However, longtime Baltimore political strategist Julius Henson said that Rolley being a very attractive candidate with the ideal name, face and educational background may have to reach outside the small and fragile political realm of Baltimore to honestly have a chance at winning. “As a candidate, and even a strategist, you look for the best and the brightest at a comparative pay scale in which your campaign can absorb and you go from there. Rolley being a kind of touted outsider, it probably better suits Baltimore, and his campaign message, by having outside groups handling the inside politics of his campaign.”

Speaking to the Mayor’s recently proposed budget Rolley’s group sent out a press release that spoke to the need for change, as he says “the current Mayor seems to be providing budget management, opposed to real leadership.” Continuing with his commentary, Rolley says the Mayor’s proposed budget “raises the cost of living here, but does nothing to address Baltimore's two biggest challenges: lack of jobs and population loss. Her budget cuts services that tax-paying, middle-class families expect and depend on. And, although Baltimore is the only major city in the Northeast to lose population over the last decade, it sustains, rather than challenges, ‘business as usual’. That is unacceptable.”

“He [Rolley] goes on to provide a detailed account of what she’s [Rawlings-Blake] not doing and how Baltimore is suffering from such a practice without actually delving into what he would do, specifically,” said Byrd. Asking her take on the budgetary process and the proposal recently submitted by the Mayor and the former talk show host states, “I don’t really have a comment on SRB and her current plan as every time I turn around she's proposing something, then people get upset on some side of the line, and she proposes something else – so it would really be a waste of breath.”

Looking at a possible crowded field of contenders this year, Fee states that he believes that Otis is the hands on favorite to contend against Mayor Rawlings-Blake during this election cycle. “I believe in him, plenty of local activists, businesses and more importantly voters believe in him – and the key factor is Otis believes in himself. You can’t ask for a better candidate and a better race than this, in a more deserving town fit for a needed change in leadership.” Rolley plans to unveil his new campaign headquarters next Wednesday April 6, 2011 at 7P at 814 W. 36thSt.

Other candidates that have been mentioned as possible contenders for the Mayoral Elections of 2011 are current City Councilman Carl Stokes, state senator Catherine Pugh, Circuit Court Clerk Frank Conaway Sr., former City Councilman Jody Landers, and former Councilman, Congressman and NAACP President and CEO Kweisi Mfume.

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