Municipal officials who triumph in the Nov. 5 election will be guiding Baltimore City through extraordinarily tough times.
During the ten Reagan-Bush years, many long-time federal obligations have been passed on to state governments, which in turn transferred them to localities. The consequences of this trend would be difficult to deal with in the best of times. The economic recession has made that task even harder as financially beleaguered states now, in turn, are cutting back aid to the cities.
Baltimore is in comparatively sound shape fiscally, as its solid ratings from New York bond houses attest. Nevertheless, the next four years will be painful as City Hall cuts and reduces, downsizes and eliminates. Scarce aid funds and the erosion of the city's tax base through continuing outflow of the middle class leave no other options.
During his first term, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke started to trim the bloated bureaucracy. This is a task the next mayor must continue.
Regrettably, neither Mr. Schmoke nor his Republican opponent, Samuel A. Culotta, has outlined in detail what he plans to do if elected to the city's top job. Still, we have no trouble endorsing Mr. Schmoke for re-election. Working in deteriorating economic conditions, he has done a creditable job. Though he has failed to give the city the kind of forceful leadership remembered from the Schaefer era, he remains a politician with real potential and good intentions. Changing executives now would be ill-advised, particularly in light of Mr. Culotta's lack of any recent experience in government.
A second Schmoke term, though, can be successful only if the mayor realizes that changes are needed within his administration, especially in sharpening his office's management of government. A tight budget environment makes it mandatory that such departments as housing and community development and police become more aggressive even as their resources are cut. And it is time for the mayor to take a hard look at the public works bureaucracy with an eye toward changing the way it has traditionally gone about its business.
* * * In the City Council president's race, Anthony D. Cobb, a %J
Republican campaigning on a shoestring budget, is challenging the incumbent, Mary Pat Clarke. We have been greatly impressed by Mr. Cobb's seriousness and level-headed ideas. He clearly is a promising politician.
Yet he lacks the kind of experience that would be helpful in leading the 18-member City Council. We have expressed reservations in the past about Ms. Clarke's combative political style, which is lately manifested in an estrangement between her and Mayor Schmoke. Nevertheless, her negatives are offset somewhat by her enthusiasm for Baltimore and her superior record of community and constituent service. She merits re-election.
...* * * The redoubtable Hyman A. Pressman's retirement after 28 colorful years as the city comptroller has created a vacancy for that important office. The comptroller sits on the executive committee that runs Baltimore's on-going affairs, the Board of Estimates, and has key fiscal oversight responsibility for city agencies.
The Sun feels that Jacqueline McLean, a successful businesswoman and two-term City Council member, is more qualified for this job than her veteran Republican opponent, Marshall W. Jones Jr., a well-known local funeral director.
* * * Baltimore is an overwhelmingly Democratic city. The absence of Republican candidates or full slates in several council districts underscores that fact. Still, city GOP officials are to be commended for recruiting a number of appealing candidates.
Although three Republicans are running in the First District and generating a good deal of interest, none is convincing as an alternative to the Democrats. For that reason, we endorse John Cain, Perry Sfikas and incumbent Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr.
In the Second District, two incumbent Democratic councilmen, Anthony J. Ambridge and Carl Stokes, and primary winner Paula Johnson Branch, another Democrat, are unopposed.
In the Third District, GOP has a spunky candidate, Elaine E. Urbanski, who is campaigning hard against great odds. A long-time employee of the Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., she is brimming with innovative ideas. She gets our support, as do two Democrats: Martin O'Malley and incumbent Wilbur E. "Bill" Cunningham.
In the Fourth District, the incumbents -- Lawrence Bell, Sheila Dixon and Agnes Welch -- are unopposed.
In the Fifth District, we endorse Lawrence H. Rosen, a certified public accountant and a Republican, over incumbent Rochelle Rikki Spector. Despite her 14 years on the council, Mrs. Spector is not exercising the kind of leadership she should. For the other two seats we support Councilwomen Vera P. Hall and Iris G. Reeves, hoping that the latter will become more aggressive in her constituent and committee work.
In the Sixth District, Melvin L. Stukes and Councilman Joseph J. DiBlasi get our support. We also support Councilman Timothy D. Murphy, urging him to rededicate himself to work on the council, where he once was a knowledgeable achiever.