Del. Nick Mosby has called Baltimore home his entire life, and he was an active member of the Reservoir Hill community before he joined the City Council roughly a decade ago.
After representing residents of west Baltimore at City Hall following an aborted run for mayor, he represented many of those same residents in the Maryland General Assembly. In June Mosby, who is the husband of Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, won his first citywide primary and is the Democratic Party’s nominee for City Council president.
He spoke with The Daily Record as part of a series of interviews aimed at continuing the conversations started during the newspaper’s “Young, Black, Homegrown and Leading in Baltimore” webinar. The interview below has been edited for clarity and space.
The Daily Record: We’ll jump right in here. Tell me, how is being a Baltimore native, as well as a Black man, shaped your view of the city?
Mosby: Well, you know growing up, I tell people all the time, I grew up in northeast Baltimore, grew up in a house with six strong women, my grandmother, my mother, aunts, sisters, cousin, but growing up in Baltimore we learned to really take pride in our city, to love our communities, to love our city.
… Baltimore is an amazing place and being from Baltimore you naturally and authentically have that connection to this city that you just love, despite some of the issues, despite some of our challenges. If you’re from Baltimore you absolutely love it.
TDR: Now you had mentioned there are some challenges in the city, there’s no denying that, but how would you describe Baltimore currently? What needs to change to make it a better place to live?
Mosby: I mean Baltimore right now, just like every other urban area with the socioeconomic issues, and concerns, and systemic problems that we’ve seen over the past couple of decades is in really tough times and conditions.
I mean when we look at it coming out of this coronavirus, many folks came into this with major problems, and the city had major issues as it relates to pressure to (the) budget and (other) things. So, this is only going to exacerbate the conditions of individuals, but then also the conditions of the way city government kind of functions.
TDR: How do you rate the job city government’s done in terms of implementing policies that benefit Black residents, particularly in terms of promoting equity, and opportunity, and investment, and development?
Mosby: Extremely poor when you look at a city like Baltimore, and first and foremost, think about the level of African-American wealth in Baltimore city in comparison to other urban (areas) and jurisdictions.
I think we rank in the top five when you look at it (from) that perspective. But then when you look at things like equity, and you look at participation, you look at the number of African-American-owned businesses and the trajectory of those businesses in the city, I think there’s so much more that needs to take place and that needs to happen.
A lot of times when we talk about businesses in our communities we look for the big-box stores, we look for the big corporations. I think there has to be a huge focus on small businesses that are in our community, that understand our communities, and that are hiring from our communities.
TDR: In terms of investment and development in Baltimore, what can the City Council do that it’s currently not doing to help promote and steer private dollars into the neighborhoods that need it most?
Mosby: I remember one of my toughest votes on the (City) Council was voting against the Enterprise Zone expansion for Harbor Point, which I believe is … like (an) $80 million dollar tax incentive.
A lot of times … we create really great programs at the state, and city, level to really go after (and) tackle certain concerns or issues. But what we see is those programs ultimately spawn into programs to benefit communities that do not necessarily need that benefit.
So if you have a tax incentive, and you’re comparing (its impact) in a … community with challenges, compared to a more affluent, or bustling, community, you’re going to see a disproportionate amount of those tax advantages being taken up in the communities that are already well-established.
Now, if we develop these programs that are geared towards trying to create synergies in communities for growth then we have to be very deliberate, very intentional, of ensuring that we are providing those incentives only in those communities … and we have seen this time and time again with tax incentives and tax programs.
TDR: Does the city government really have the ability to enact policies that improve equity and opportunity beyond, say, ramping up requirements for minority participation in city contracts?
Mosby: So when we talk about ensuring that we have a good mix of diversified folks that are participating in these programs I think there’s a myriad of different things that you can do.
When we look at again from the (Board of Estimates’) perspective there could be ways where minority women business enterprises are provided allotted percentages, there could be ways where there’s a point system where if you have certified business enterprises that are headquartered in the city of Baltimore they get favorable points associated with that.
I mean, there’s been a number of different ways that folks have been able to tackle to ensure that there’s diversity on an equity and participation perspective.
TDR: But does the city council really have the ability to, in terms of crafting a policy, have any influence in how that happens, or is that strictly on the second floor at the mayor’s office?
Mosby: Oh, 100%, the city council has a lot (of power). I mean so any tax incentive program comes through the city council, (and) has to be voted on by city council members.
When we talk about policy, oh, yes, you can definitely craft policy, real estate policy, land use development policy, that targets particular dollars and forces them to do (what’s best for the city) based off of whatever you set the policy.
Professional: Was a member of the Baltimore City Council from 2011-17; appointed to the Maryland House of Delegates in 2017; currently is the Democratic Party nominee for Baltimore City Council president.
Education: Baltimore Polytechnic Institute; Tuskegee University.
Personal: 41, married to Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, two children.