City Councilwoman Jacqueline F. McLean, D-2nd, has announced plans to run for comptroller, becoming the first candidate to enter what is expected to be a crowded field in the race next year to replace retiring seven-term incumbent Hyman A. Pressman.
McLean, a second-term council member, announced her candidacy Monday night at $100-a-ticket fund-raiser at Martin's West.
About 200 people attended the event, including U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-7th, and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. Both said that they have not chosen a candidate to endorse in the 1991 city elections.
The event marked a change for McLean, the owner of a travel agency, who in the past has avoided fund-raising for her political campaigns.
In 1987, for instance, she spent almost $200,000 of her own money in an abortive bid for the City Council presidency. She withdrew from the race and sought re-election to her council seat after making a poor showing in early polls. But McLean said she will be in the comptroller's race "until the end" and that she has the credentials needed to win.
"I think it is important that the comptroller have good administrative skills and have a thorough knowledge of city government," McLean said.
The comptroller sits on the Board of Estimates and runs an operation charged with auditing the city's transactions, acquiring and managing real estate, arranging insurance coverage for the city and operating the city's mail service.
The post is expected to be vacated next year by the 76-year-old Pressman, who plans to retire in the face of deteriorating health.
Among the prospective candidates are: Del. John W. Douglass, D-City, who unsuccessfully challenged Pressman in 1979 and 1983; Councilman Joseph T. "Jody" Landers 3rd, D-3rd; Register of Wills Mary W. Conaway; state Sen. George Della Jr., D-City; and Councilman Carl Stokes, D-2nd.
Each of the candidates contacted seemed unconcerned with McLean's candidacy.
"It doesn't bother me," Douglass said. "I have a long reputation as a candidate for comptroller with substantial support in the past. Although I lost before, I talked to a lot of people and they realize Hyman Pressman was an institution and not easy to defeat."
Landers, meanwhile, said he is "all but announced" and moving ahead with plans to put together a campaign organization. Last February, he held a fund-raiser that brought in $30,000.
"Because Mr. Pressman will not be seeking re-election, I see this as an open ballgame," Landers said.
The other people frequently mentioned as possible candidates for comptroller said they are unsure of their plans.
Conaway has said that she has an interest in running for either mayor or comptroller. Della, likewise, said he has "an interest in running for citywide office."
Stokes, meanwhile, said he has not decided whether to seek the comptroller's post.
Douglass, for one, said he expects some of those prospective candidates to ultimately drop out of contention.
"I think by the time we get down to the election filing deadline the field will be much narrower," Douglass said. "This is a time for posturing. People want to see how far they can go."