The movement to raise the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour has been picking up steam, passing its first barrier in the labor committee and a vote in the full council is has now advanced to a final vote. This is largely thanks to a grassroots movement and the valiant effort of Baltimore’s labor unions and activist organizations which have introduced and fought for income justice.
However, the latest victory was only narrowly won for the workers of Baltimore, because the usual champion of progressive issues, Carl Stokes, the 12th district’s exiting councilperson, decided to change his vote from an affirmative one to an abstention in the eleventh hour. While Councilman Stokes was an early supporter, his decision to abstain from the vote calls for an exploration of behind the scenes influences and dubious politicking with his political compatriot of over 20 years, City Council President Jack Bernard Young.
City Council President Jack Young was previously the councilman in the 12th district before Carl Stokes, and the two are known good pals, both in government and in the casual world. In fact, the two have been known to take lavish trips such as a recent jaunt to Las Vegas together (trips that many working class residents of the 12th district could never dream of taking because of the poverty minimum wage Young supports). They joined the democratic party establishment in the east side of the 12th district decades ago together, and in fact Robert Stokes, my opponent, also joined their political circle, creating an East Side Democratic Establishment trio.
If a normally progressive representative of the people like Carl Stokes can be swayed so easily by Jack B Young, and hold him in such high regard, the legislatively inexperienced Robert Stokes brings up great concerns for worry. He is in the pocket Jack Young and, worrisomely, Jack B Young, who have donated thousands to his campaign and groomed him carefully to be Carl’s successor.
The situation has become all the more serious regarding the establishment trio’s opposition to the Fight for Fifteen bill. As of the writing of this article, The Sun paper has reported that Councilman Carl Stokes intends not to vote affirmatively on the final vote on the measure. This offers firm vindication to my belief, a belief that is growing all the more commonplace, that Robert Stokes, as an ally of Jack Young, will not be a progressive champion for the 12th District. It should be gravely concerning to citizens, especially in the east of the 12th district, which is beleaguered by issues of violence and poverty, that their councilman will stay silent and veer from his former support of a measure that would provide much-needed advancements in economic and social equality for their district. Sadly, if Robert Stokes were to win the city council election, we can expect the same and less of him. Carl Stokes’ bought silence in a progressive issue speaks greatly to what his minion Robert Stokes, who lacks the usual reputation of support for progressive issues of Carl Stokes, would neglect to do if he were elected. Robert Stokes has not been involved in the Fight for Fifteen, has not marched in the Baltimore Uprising, and is silent on Port Covington. It would be a great achievement for our broken political system to allow Stokes to ride into office in the pocket of his controller Jack Young.
I desperately call all of Baltimore’s citizens, to call their city councilors ceaselessly to ask them to give an affirmative vote in the final vote for the Fight for Fifteen wage measure. I especially call upon the citizens of the 12th District to call Carl Stokes and request for him to give a yea vote on the measure. I close wishing luck to the Fight for Fifteen, and once again stating my strong personal support for the measure. The citizens of Baltimore need the Fight for Fifteen now more than ever.