The outcome of the councilmanic elections in Baltimore's 3rd District could well prove to be the acid test of the redistricting plan approved by the City Council earlier this year.
Before redistricting, blacks comprised about 44 percent of the district's residents. Yet the 3rd had never elected a black council member. By increasing the proportion of blacks to 60 percent, the authors of the plan clearly hoped to increase the likelihood of electing at least one black member from the district.
It seems equally clear to us that the incumbents, E. "Mike" Curran and Wilbur E. "Bill" Cunningham, have done very little to advance this relatively modest goal, even though the circumstance of an open seat left by Councilman Jody Landers' decision to run for comptroller offered them a golden opportunity to accommodate black political aspirations by forming an integrated ticket with one of several qualified black candidates in the race. They chose not to do so.
We believe it is time for 3rd District voters to elect a new slate of Martin O'Malley, Kevin O'Keeffe and Maegertha Whitaker for City Council. O'Malley, a lawyer who narrowly lost election to the state Senate last year, has advocated such ideas as semiannual property taxes as an incentive for first-time homebuyers. Related by marriage to the Curran family, he could prove a forward-looking link to a venerable tradition. O'Keeffe wrote a book about city politics before earning a law degree and returning to Baltimore as a special assistant to Mayor Kurt Schmoke. He has many interesting ideas on streamlining the city bureaucracy in an era of declining population and municipal budgets. Whitaker, a member of the Democratic State Central Committee, is a longtime neighborhood activist in the Frankford Improvement Association.
We believe an O'Malley, O'Keeffe and Whitaker ticket would bring balanced representation and leadership of a high order to all 3rd District residents.