One candidate in the city comptroller's race has released tax returns showing he has a modest income and must "struggle to make ends meet."
The other candidate, Councilwoman Jacqueline McLean, D-2nd, the co-owner of a multimillion-dollar business, has dismissed the release as a "cheap ploy that the voters are sick and tired of."
Councilman Joseph T. "Jody" Landers 3rd, D-3rd, and McLean are battling for the $53,000-a-year comptroller's job.
Landers has made public 1989 tax returns showing that he and his wife, Cecilia, had an adjusted gross income of $41,256. He has challenged McLean and any other candidates who might enter the race to release their tax returns, too.
The tax return shows that Landers, the father of three children, received $30,843 from his councilman's post and $9,000 from work as a real estate agent. The councilman's wife made $700 from a small day-care service she operates in their home. Landers and his wife paid, after regular withholdings, $1,002 in federal tax and $302.24 in state taxes.
Landers said he released the tax returns to draw a distinction between his finances and those of McLean.
McLean is executive vice president of Four Seas Seven Winds Travel Agency, which is headed by her husband, James McLean. According to figures that appeared recently in The Evening Sun's Black Business supplement, the firm is the fifth largest black-owned business in Maryland and had a 1989 "gross" of $36 million.
"I think my income is like or closer to the majority of Baltimoreans than McLean's and I think voters will consider that," Landers said. "We struggle to make ends meet; we are active in our community association; we send our kids to city public schools just like most other Baltimoreans."
"Good for him," said McLean in response to his challenge.
"Is he [Landers] saying that only people from certain income levels can do the job of city comptroller," said McLean, vice president of the City Council. "My campaign is about the ability to do the job and, until he can show me what this has to do with doing the job, he can keep his challenge."
Landers conceded that a candidate's income has no bearing on how well the candidate could perform the comptroller's job. But he said he released the tax information to symbolize the spirit of openness that would prevail in the comptroller's office should he win the election.
The current comptroller, Hyman A. Pressman, has held the job for more than 30 years and is not seeking re-election.
So far, Landers and McLean are the only candidates in the race, but others are expected to enter it. City Register of Wills Mary Conaway; Del. John W. Douglass, D-45th; Councilman Carl Stokes, D-2nd; and Sen. George W. Della Jr., D-47th, are said to be considering entering.