COUNCILMAN Zeke Cohen
We can reimagine Baltimore’s future together, but first we must restore faith in our most basic systems and renew trust in the leaders elected to deliver them. Together, we can write the next great American comeback story in Baltimore.
Our city’s complex challenges and its unique opportunities require leaders as focused on meeting the daily needs of their constituents as they are capable of bringing diverse interests and communities to the table to tackle our toughest issues. We must, and we can, do both. For too long, we’ve accepted a false choice: that we must accept mediocrity and be patient for progress – that igniting the strengths of this great city must take a back seat to the big, public debates over whose individual vision for our future wins.
As Councilman for Baltimore City’s First District for the past seven years, I’ve operated with a central belief: An effective government that serves its citizens should not be a goal – it should be a given. At my core, I know Baltimore can win. I know that we can deliver world-class services and engage community, stakeholders, businesses and institutions more effectively, transparently and inclusively to truly move the needle on our toughest issues, together. And I understand that it will take all of us – our elected leaders, our non-profits, our businesses and our residents – to ensure we get there.
Educator & Public Servant
I came to Baltimore to attend Goucher College and knew this city would be my permanent home. After graduating, I taught middle school social studies in both West and South Baltimore. Spurred by the brilliant teenagers in my classrooms, I later founded a local non profit centered on supporting youth leadership. In 2015, I decided to run for office, based on a belief that democracy only works when every person – in every community – has a voice in the process.
These convictions have only strengthened since meeting my wife, Reena and becoming a father to Maya and Elias. My wife works every day to uplift the mental health and wellness of Baltimoreans as a psychiatrist at MedStar Harbor Hospital in Cherry Hill. My daughter attends a Baltimore City Public School. As a family, we have experienced the very best of Baltimore. As a public servant, my mission is to ensure we replicate that experience for every family in our city.
A Tireless & Transparent Advocate
I have represented Baltimore’s First District on the City Council since 2016, passing landmark legislation and delivering world-class constituent services while providing transparency throughout the process.
My time on the Council has fueled my belief that leadership often requires innovation. After a school shooting, I wrote and championed The Elijah Cummings Healing City Act which made Baltimore the first city in the country to legislate trauma-informed care. When we learned that Baltimore City students had no learning options on summer Fridays, I convened a dozen cultural institutions to open their doors and provide field trips. When Patterson Pool closed during the hottest summer on record, I formed a coalition to open a pop-up splash pad. And upon learning that Experience Corps would leave Baltimore, I helped keep that vital program and wrote legislation to create a Mayor’s Office of Older Adults.
As a Councilmember, I’ve supported smart development in the first district while securing local hiring and affordable housing. We’ve welcomed over 5,700 new residents in the first district at a time when the rest of the city faced significant population decline. We’ve built four brand new public schools and a beautiful playground, invested in our parks, and prioritized new high-quality affordable housing. In partnership with local community groups we secured $1.4m in neighborhood safety grants and resolved nearly 5,000 constituent requests. In short: We’re modeling what good government looks like.
City Council President
As Council President, I will reimagine how residents interact with their government, create systems that are user friendly, fix the 311 system and rebuild agencies to be more effectively managed. Together, we can hold our public safety agencies accountable to deliver great outcomes while also recruiting a new generation of police officers and firefighters. We can address Baltimore’s mental health crisis, which drives violence and addiction in our communities.
Baltimore can be the greatest city in America. But we need to build it together. Now is the time for every single one of us who loves this city to roll up our sleeves, get to work and hold our government, our leaders, and each other to higher standards.