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Jody Landers officially announces run for Baltimore mayor

Saying he wants to reduce property taxes, fight crime and eliminate vacant dwellings in Baltimore, Joseph T. “Jody” Landers III threw his hat into the ring for mayor on Wednesday before nearly 75 supporters in Lauraville.

Landers, a Democrat who last week resigned as executive vice president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, said his decision to run for the city’s top job was made after witnessing a decline in city life over the past couple of decades.

“City population continues to decline with more than 115,000 people continuing to leave the city,” he said. “City residents have the highest tax burden and there are 47,000 vacant houses in Baltimore City, up 10 percent from 10 years ago. I could go on, but it depresses me.”

Landers, a former member of the City Council who was elected in 1983 and served until 1991, said the city needs stronger leadership.

“I am determined to lead the city in a new direction,” he said, to a standing ovation at the end of his remarks. Landers also called for a moment of silence to honor the memory of William Donald Schaefer, who he said was a mentor at City Hall.

“He personified the ‘do it now’ principals it takes to be a great mayor,” he said of Schaefer, who died on Monday at the age of 89.

Prior to the announcement, Landers filed for candidacy at the city’s Board of Elections, he said.

He joins former city planning director Otis Rolley in the race. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has said she plans to run, but has not yet filed. Other potential candidates for the Sept. 13 primary include City Councilman Carl Stokes and State Sen. Catherine Pugh, both who have said they are entertaining a possible run for mayor.

Landers said the impact of the foreclosure crisis on Baltimore’s neighborhoods has been sharp. He said that 40 percent of all housing sales in Baltimore last year were distressed sales, or sales that were generated from foreclosed properties or short sales. This year, that figure is 50 percent, he said. Such a situation drives down housing prices and values, Landers said.

“I am running for mayor out of optimism,” he said. “I fundamentally believe we can do something about this.”

Landers’ supporters include many local realtors and community members from northeast Baltimore, where he said he has lived most of his life.

His mother, wife, three children and granddaughter, Scarlett, joined him on the dais for the announcement.

“It’s a great day in Baltimore and a momentous day for me,” he said. “Eleven years ago today, my mother won a house – so this may be a lucky omen.”