After 28 years of electing Hyman Pressman as comptroller, Baltimore city voters now find themselves having to take a fresh look at an office many of them have taken for granted. Until age and declining health slowed him down, Pressman's antics gave the post of comptroller a colorful flavor. His retirement, however, is a good opportunity to re-examine the office and its important role in city government. And in an otherwise rather lackluster election year, the controller's race is one of the few contests that is actually generating some excitement.
Three candidates are competing for the job. Mary Conaway has been elected three times to the office of register of wills and is looking to move up in city government. She has strong credentials in a range of fields, from music to education to theology. But we don't sense that she has an overarching vision of city government, of the direction in which the city's fiscal policy should be moving, or of the comptroller's role in keeping the city on track toward its goals.
Jacqueline McLean is an energetic and well-funded campaigner and, as a successful entrepreneur, she has a keen understanding of business and fiscal matters. Her eight years representing the 2nd District on the City Council have honed her knowledge of local government, and she has presented some sound ideas for improving the city's financial picture. No doubt she could be a competent comptroller.