Mayoral challengers face uphill battle against Schmoke
Ronald W. Williams likened himself to Moses and vowed to lead city residents across the burning sands of poverty to the promised land.
Roy F. Carraher implied that his house is protected from burglars by two powerful gentlemen: Smith & Wesson. "You can put all the policemen you want on the streets, it won't make a difference," Carraher explained.
And Joseph A. Scalia said, "We have a mayor who's advocatingiving out needles to drug addicts. . . . We need to return to a government that's based on common sense."
Williams, Carraher and Scalia are mayoral candidates campaigning in the Sept. 12 primary election. Williams and seven other Democrats are on the primary ballot, and six Republicans, including Carraher and Scalia, are seeking the GOP nomination.
The Democratic candidates are fighting an uphill battle to defeat Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. Schmoke has raised more than $1 million in campaign money and he has chalked up endorsements from the AFL-CIO, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and other key organizations.
Meanwhile, city Republicans have grown accustomed to fighting uphill. Registration figures show Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 10 to 1. Baltimore's last Republican mayor was Theodore McKeldin, who served from 1963 to 1967.
A recent forum provided a soap box for the candidates to spout their positions. Williams said he would eradicate poverty, if he became mayor.
"Just as Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, I will lead the people of Baltimore out of poverty," Williams said, adding: "I don't have anything to lose. . . . I will get rid of all this poverty."
Carraher said he is concerned about law and order and a criminal-justice system that has grown too lenient.
"If people break into your house in the nighttime, you can't shoot 'em," he said. "Let 'em break into my house. They're gonna be there in the morning, I guarantee that."
Clarence H. Du Burns wants voters to judge him on his past record as a councilman, council president and mayor. Although Burns has done relatively little to take the fight to Schmoke, he seemed annoyed that Schmoke has not been pressed to justify his record as mayor.
"This is the only election -- and I've been in many -- where a man's record don't count," Burns said. "It's the first time I've seen an election where people are running and don't have to state their record."
Scalia said the city would be better off with him at the helm. "We need to return to a government that's based on common sense," he said, adding: "I'm offering you aggressive, hands-on, visionary leadership."
No time to be sheep:
Toward the end of a long day of door-to-door campaigning recently, a supporter offered to give 10 lambs to 1st District City Council candidate Perry Sfikas.
"I was trying to get done what I had to finished for the day so I thanked the person and moved on," said Sfikas. "Later, after the campaign day was over and I had a chance to rest, it struck me -- what in the heck was I going to do with 10 lambs."
Not to worry. Looking for some way to add a unique touch to his last fund-raiser of the campaign, Sfikas decided to have -- you guessed it -- a lamb roast. It may be a first for a district more famous for its political bull roasts.
Mark Bomster and Patrick Gilbert contributed to this column.