In 1987 Kurt L. Schmoke entered office as Baltimore's first elected black mayor on a platform to reform a troubled school system, reclaim abandoned, boarded-up houses and aggressively fight crime in the city while holding the line on taxes.
Four years later, schools, housing, crime and taxes are still the paramount issues confronting Baltimore city. Mayor Schmoke's record in all these areas has been somewhat mixed: While there have been important successes he can point to, there have also been major setbacks.
The mayor's first superintendent, Richard Hunter, proved an unfortunate choice whose political ineptitude resulted in loss of valuable time and public support for school reform. Likewise the city housing commissioner, Robert Hearn, has appeared overwhelmed by his responsibilities. And the mayor repeatedly was embarrassed during his first term by reports of mismanagement at the City Jail run by his appointee, Barbara Bostick.