Councilman Eric Costello will seek reelection, he told The Baltimore Banner ahead of a Wednesday night fundraiser to launch his campaign, putting to rest rumors that the Democrat would pursue a citywide office.
“I came to the conclusion that this is where I can have the most meaningful impact on not just the district, but on the city,” he said outside the Starbucks near Cross Street Market, gesturing to the busy streets of Federal Hill, which is smack in the middle of the 11th District.
Costello raised eyebrows when he polled city voters this spring on name recognition and a possible mayoral bid. Instead, the 42-year-old will again seek to represent his South Baltimore district, a widely diverse one that spans the downtown business district, the Inner Harbor, and more than two dozen residential neighborhoods, including Poppleton, Otterbein, Ridgely’s Delight and Bolton Hill.
With the deepest pockets of any council member, Costello could have funded a highly competitive citywide race. He reported $440,000 in cash on hand in January, the most recent report available, just $11,000 less than reported by Mayor Brandon Scott. The first-term mayor remains the sole big name in a primary that was crowded with competitive candidates last cycle.
Costello attributed his decision to two factors: seeing projects in his district through to completion, such as the renovations of Solo Gibbs Park in Sharp-Leadenhall and the Avenue Market on Pennsylvania Avenue; and “holding the city accountable, the administration and agencies accountable” by ensuring they are delivering services to residents.
“People have expectations that city government is going to work for them,” he said. “That it’s going to keep them safe, that it’s going to provide them safe drinking water, then it’s going to provide them education opportunities for their kids, recreation opportunities for their families, amenities, and core city services like trash and recycling.”
Just because Costello isn’t running for a citywide office doesn’t mean he can’t be a kingmaker.
His political allies have benefitted from his campaign’s deep pockets. In the last electoral cycle, the councilman transferred more than $120,000 to allies, candidate slates and political action committees.
His ties to influential state officials are among the strongest in City Hall: He was the first city elected officials to endorse Wes Moore, who went on to win the competitive Democratic gubernatorial primary and later the general election. House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson headlined h\is Wednesday fundraiser at Harbor East’s Maximón — two big gets for a City Council member.
“How many city council persons or county council persons can have the senate president, the Speaker of the House, members from the House, members from the Senate, from outside and their jurisdictions? How many would you see have this type of representation Not many,” Ferguson said to the room. “Why are so many folks here? Because in this job, relationships matter.”
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