For candidates in tomorrow's Baltimore City primary election, the Fat Lady is humming. She is about to belt out an old favorite: "What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours." Tomorrow, some of today's challengers may be nominees for the highest offices in municipal government.
Democracy is a system Americans take for granted. Many people even skip elections, as if voting were an inconvenience. Ask the Eastern Europeans and Russians about voting and they will say that much of their ability to win back their freedoms started at the polling booths.
The wonderful thing about elections is that they give registered voters a chance to decide for themselves. Those who are mad as hell and can't take it any more can pull a lever and throw the rascals out. Those who think the incumbents are doing a good job can declare so by their vote. Every voter is a political boss.
Tomorrow's primary offers Baltimoreans more choices than many previous elections.
Because of city redistricting, the six councilmanic districts have been redrawn. As a result, the established political power in many districts is being challenged. Every vote counts. Just ask Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who won his first City Council primary by three votes. Others can relate stories of close defeats and victories.
Because Hyman A. Pressman is retiring after 28 years as city comptroller, Baltimore voters are selecting a successor in what promises to be a tight three-way race. Every vote may be the decisive vote. And since the new comptroller sits on the five-member Board of Estimates, his or her vote will count in important decisions concerning the day-to-day operations of the city. The new comptroller's aggressiveness -- and vision of the office -- can make a big difference.
A total of eight candidates are fighting for the Democratic nomination for mayor. Three of them are considered serious candidates; it is up to the voters to decide which three. Six Republicans are fighting for their party's mayoral nomination.
Baltimore City has its problems. It also has its promises. Dramatic building projects that will alter the downtown skyline will come into fruition in the next few years. A self-contained waterfront condominium tower complex is rising near Federal Hill. The new baseball stadium is taking shape at Camden Yards.
While many Baltimoreans gripe, others show their confidence in the city by improving their homes. Look at renovations around Patterson Park -- or in the 100 block South Gilmor Street, where half a dozen homeowners have had their brick facades cleaned and repointed. Their pride is making a difference in the neighborhood. Tomorrow, every voter can make a difference in the city. Vote!