Comptroller candidate vows to streamline office

October 28, 1991|By Rafael Alvarez

He rarely received more than a single line from the daily newspapers during all the publicity surrounding Baltimore's September primary election: "Republican candidate Marshall W. Jones Jr. is unopposed."

The news stories then usually talked at length about the Democratic race for the citywide office of comptroller, a three-way fight won by City Councilwoman Jacqueline F.McLean, D-2nd.

But Marshall Jones, a 59-year-old mortician and dedicated Republican, will not be unopposed in the Nov. 5 general election. He is a decided underdog against Mrs. McLean in a city that has 281,779 registered Democrats and 30,533 Republicans, a 9-1 disadvantage for the GOP.

Mr. Jones, who lives on North Broadway in East Baltimore's Oliver neighborhood, thinks he can turn that margin to his advantage for a long-shot Republican victory.

"Fifty-one percent of Democrats did not vote for [McLean] in the primary," he said. "Let them come over here."

If they do, Mr. Jones promises, he will streamline operations in the comptroller's office by using computers to better monitor the agency charged with overseeing all other city agencies.

The city is "spending over a billion dollars a year -- that's a lot of money to be looked at. . . . Before looking at other agencies, let's bring the comptroller's office up to standard," Mr. Jones said.

Part of his plan includes educating voters about the office. The comptroller, one of three officials elected citywide, sits on the Board of Estimates and oversees the city auditors and the real estate department.

At a campaign meeting, when Mr. Jones asked 150 people whether anyone knew what the comptroller did, five raised their hands.

"For the past two decades, we've had the other party running the Board of Estimates, and I say we need another voice to watch that money," Mr. Jones said.

Mr. Jones said he would put top priority on finding a way to ease city residents' high car insurance rates. He said he also would try to use the influence of the office to push for single-member City Council districts instead of having three per district.

"McLean is cold toward the idea of lower auto insurance rates for city residents," said Mr. Marshall.

"I'm working 12-hour days, shaking as many hands as I can, trying to get as much press as I can, going to all the community meetings and forums and trying to get a debate with McLean," he said.

"The citizens deserve a better break. They should not be relegated to the other party to perpetuate the old-boy system forever."

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