Big day for City Council Chronicles: it’s our first interview with a living, breathing, city council member!
And this isn’t just any John Q. Councilor. I talked to Baltimore’s own Rochelle “Rikki” Spector, who has been a city councilwoman for nearly 40 jaw-dropping years. Naturally, being from Charm City, she was off-the-charts friendly. She told me all about double-crossers, power struggles, and city hall’s comfy cushions.
Q: When you first got on city council, did you ever think you’d be there 40 years?
A: I never thought I’d be the longest serving–living–local elected official in the history of Maryland.
Q: I couldn’t find any council member who’s been serving longer than you. Do you think you might be the longest-serving in the whole country?
A: I don’t know about the country. I know in Maryland, one of my colleagues thought it was him. And he did research and found out it was me!
Q: How well do you get along with the other council members?
A: I get tremendous respect from my colleagues.
Q: I mean, when the cameras are on, it seems like everyone is nice to each other. But statistically, it’s impossible for coworkers to get along all of the time. Is there anyone who gets under your skin?
A: Oh, yes. I have a colleague that–and this is just between you and me…[REDACTED: ALL THE GOOD PARTS]…you don’t leave your constituents.
Q: Have you ever been blindsided by someone who said in private they’d support something but then they turn around–
A: Oh, yes! I once had a councilperson say to me that he was going to support a bill, and then he voted against it. And I went over to him–totally, totally amazed–and I said, “I can’t believe that you lied to me!” He said, “So I lied.”
Q: Oh no.
A: That person’s not on the council now. But I have no regard for him. It’s almost an affront to your intelligence, “so I lied.”
Q: How many people show up to watch the city council meetings?
A: We have a double chamber. We have a balcony upstairs. Every seat is always taken.
Q: Is there anything strange that has happened at a city council meeting?
A: Well, I hope you’ll watch tomorrow night–
Q: I will now!
A: There are two charter amendments that the council has approved that the mayor has vetoed. Tomorrow is the last meeting whether the members want to override the mayor’s veto. And there would need to be 12 members voting to override.
Q: Gimme a prediction, councilwoman. What’ll happen?
A: I do believe the mayor’s veto will stand.
Q: What a power struggle! I’ll tune in. Speaking of which, I know that Washington, D.C. and Baltimore have a rivalry. Who would win in a pickup basketball game: the D.C. council or the Baltimore city council?
A: The Baltimore council, of course.
Q: Which is better: the Washington Nationals or the Baltimore Orioles?
A: The Baltimore Orioles, of course!
Q: What are the chairs like in your council chamber? Are they comfortable?
A: We have leather, upholstered swivel chairs that are very comfortable.
Q: Those sound amazing. I’ve seen city council meetings where it’s like a middle school cafeteria with metal chairs and folding tables. I’m glad Baltimore spares no expense.
A: We spend a lot of time in those chairs. I work nine days a week! It’s a calling, not a job.