Saying that Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is out of touch with Baltimore's poor and minorities, community activist Daki Napata said yesterday that he will challenge Mr. Schmoke in the Democratic primary in September.
"You can say that it takes a while to get comfortable with the office, but in the fourth year of his incumbency he is still uninformed; he is still insulated," said Mr. Napata.
"Many of us who have worked in the city have hoped the city would get better," Mr. Napata said. "Unfortunately, when I walk around the city, you see a lot of pain, a lot of waste. I've been disappointed with him as mayor, particularly since I supported him in 1987."
Mr. Napata, an Irvington resident, said the mayor too often disappears when the black community looks to him for leadership. In other instances, Mr. Napata said, the mayor has taken controversial stands -- such as favoring drug decriminalization and the distribution of needles to addicts to reduce the spread of AIDS -- without consulting with the black leaders who helped him win office.
"You can't just put stuff out there without touching base with anyone," Mr. Napata said. "And on positions you would expect a minimal of assertiveness, like the redistricting, how do you not be an advocate?"
Mr. Napata does volunteer youth counseling through the Union Baptist Church on Druid Hill Avenue and was a project director with the American Friends Service Committee from 1982 to 1989.
At least three other challengers are planning to take on the mayor, including former mayor Clarence H. "Du" Burns, former Baltimore State's Attorney William A. Swisher and John B. Ascher, a follower of political extremist Lyndon LaRouche.