BALTIMORE — Ivan Bates’ message was simple – change.
But his work will be not as simple.
Baltimore City has had 200 murder investigations since the start of the year, and is on pace for another 300-plus homicide calendar year.
Alongside that, another issue has been the squeegee workers, who stand on Baltimore intersections washing windows, asking for money, even when drivers don’t want it.
Bates, a defense attorney, realizes the challenges he faces.
He also confidently believes he has the plan to attack crime.
Bates defeated current prosecutor Marilyn Mosby after the Associated Press called the race Friday evening.
It took until Friday to call the Democratic primary for Bates because the margins were tighter and a larger number of mail-in ballots were cast in the race. Mail-in ballots weren't permitted to start being counted until Thursday morning.
As of Friday night, Bates claimed 39.83 percent of the votes (26,660), Thiru Vignarajah had 30.40 percent of votes (20,349) and Mosby had 29.77 percent (19,931).
“I’m very humbled by this opportunity. The voters heard our message. I have to thank all of my supporters, everybody who endorsed, the volunteers, the voters,” Bates told WMAR-2 News. “I’m just greatly blessed and feeling very humbled.”
Bates’ campaign promise was to make Baltimore a safer city, and hold those who commit crimes accountable.
Baltimore is heavily Democratic, and there is no Republican candidate in the race. Roya Hanna is an unaffiliated candidate who has filed to run in November’s general election, on November 8.
“I think it was our message of change,” Bates said. "We talked about, if you think crime is out of control, and people would say yes, and you think we need a change, and people said yes, after I explained why I was running and who I was and what my platform was, I asked everybody the same question, ‘if you believe crime is out of control, and you want a change, give me a chance.’”
Bates lost to Mosby in 2018, who won her second term as Baltimore City State’s Attorney.
With crime spiking, Bates said his main focus was crime, and combating gun violence, in Baltimore.
“Our message was one that people really listened to and, at the end of the day, crime is out of control in our city and people wanted change. Our campaign was about being that change and it was clear that the voters wanted change because it is clear we want to have a safer city for everybody.”
Bates, who is managing partner of the Baltimore law firm Bates and Garcia, worked as a prosecutor in Baltimore from 1996 to 2002 before becoming a defense attorney. He campaigned on his experience, emphasizing the city needed a change in leadership with ethical, transparent and effective prosecution.
There have been more than 300 homicides in each of the past seven years. Earlier this year, Baltimore experienced its deadliest January in nearly half a century with 36 homicides.
“We have to work collaboratively with the police department to make good cases, and we also have to rebuild the State’s Attorney Office, and we have to make sure people understand the certainty of consequences if they want to hold and handle illegal handguns. If you have an illegal handgun, you will go to jail," Bates said. "“We also have to make sure we recall the non-prosecution policies of Ms. Mosby so we can let everybody know that there will be consequences and you will be held accountable for everything that you do.”
A hot topic for years has surrounded the group of teens, kids and adults who stand at intersections in downtown Baltimore harassing drivers for money.
WMAR-2 has reported that many have become aggressive and violent.
On July 7, 48-year-old Timothy Reynolds was shot and killed, allegedly by a 15-year-year squeegee worker, after he attempted to confront them with a baseball bat. Earlier that day, a man said he had his windshield wiper ripped off and one of the squeegee workers pointed a BB gun at him.
WMAR-2 News also reported on an Anne Arundel Co. family who had their car beaten after a person forced a cleaning job on their windshield. Then, on July 18, a 12-year-old squeegee worker was charged in an attack.
“The squeegee workers can’t be on the corner, point blank, end of discussion," Bates said. "We will work collaboratively with the police department. But at the end of the day, there are a number of things we will be able to do, working collaboratively to get those individuals off the corners. We are going to give citations and direct some of these individuals to community court that I want to establish in the district court of Baltimore City.”
“That will then give people two options. They can be prosecuted or they can go to a diversion program that Mayor Brandon Scott has set up. That’s very, very important. It’s a way that makes sure that people are held accountable, but it makes sure that if you are in the programs that Mayor Scott has set up, you recognize a couple things – one, if you don’t have a GED, you can work on your education; number two, if let’s you go ahead and have job training; and number three, you can have the mental health services or support that you need. That’s very important to me.”