The Forgotten City Election

October 12, 1991

The Nov. 5 election is just a few weeks away, but one has to look hard for evidence of a general election campaign. The three citywide races are non-existent. The only planned activity that will permit voters to compare Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke with Samuel A. Culotta, the GOP candidate, is a television debate scheduled for Oct. 25. No comparable debate is planned between City Council President Mary Pat Clarke and her Republican challenger, Anthony D. Cobb, or Jacqueline McLean and Marshall W. Jones Jr., the Democratic and Republican contenders for the city comptroller's job.

This is an unhealthy situation which disturbs us greatly. At a time when Baltimore is confronted with stark budget cutting choices, no one is discussing the issues. Neither Mr. Schmoke nor Mr. Culotta has offered a comprehensive platform that would detail their plans or ideas for the next four years. This is a scandal that suggests they have little respect for voters. Is it a wonder, then, that fewer and fewer people bother to go to the polls?

Things look a bit brighter in some of the races for the 18 seats on the redistricted City Council. In Northeast Baltimore's Third District, Republican Elaine E. Urbanski is waging a serious and professional campaign against the three Democratic nominees. The odds are not in her favor: Baltimore has not had a Republican City Council member since 1942. But as the only woman candidate in a district which has traditionally elected males, she may be able to pull a strong vote.

In Northwest Baltimore's Fifth District, Lawrence H. Rosen, a certified public accountant, is going after incumbent Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector. In East Baltimore-based First District, Leo Wayne Dymowski, James H. Styles Jr. and Joseph DiPasquale, are hoping that the defeat of two long-time Democratic incumbents in the primary will give Republicans an opening. GOP candidates, after all, staged a number of upsets in counties around Baltimore a year ago.

These are welcome signs of life in the city's Republican Party. But the GOP has a long way to go before Democratic candidates -- or voters -- will take it seriously. We see no evidence, for instance, of a Republican ticket or combined campaign effort by Messrs. Culotta, Cobb and Jones, the party's citywide candidates. Similarly, the various council candidates are single-shooting rather than pooling their limited resources for maximum gain. They still have a lot to learn.

There are few more delightful sights in life than a politician who runs scared. Such a politician is likely to be responsible and responsive. Office-holders who regard themselves as shoo-ins, in turn, tend to be arrogant, lazy and prone to back-handed deals in smoke-filled rooms.

We need some fear in this election!

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