Opportunity for City Voters

November 04, 1991

Who runs Baltimore City?

By charter, the mayor and the City Council do. But tomorrow, registered voters can give their verdict not only on how elected officials are handling their jobs but on other crucial issues on the ballot as well. This is not balder--. Just look at the questions that will confront voters:

* Referendum Question L asks whether the City Council system should be changed. Currently, three council members are elected from each of the city's six districts. If Question L passes, that set-up would be replaced by 18 districts, each of which would send only one member to the council.

Proponents say this change would assure better and more effective representation of neighborhoods and demolish political machines. We agree with them. But opponents say this change would result in parochialism within the council.

Voters will decide.

* Citizens must approve or reject loans for capital programs totaling $35 million and a $20 million general-obligation bond to cover future insurance liabilities. The 11 bond questions are lettered A through K. They cover a gamut of projects from economic development to restoring abandoned houses and fixing up schools and senior centers. Each question must be voted on separately; a brief description of each is on the voting machine.

Because all of the city's top officials are up for election tomorrow, voters will make important personnel choices. Those who are happy with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's administration can say so; those who are unhappy can vote for Samuel A. Culotta, a lawyer and one-time state delegate who is the Republican candidate once again.

In the City Council president's race, the choice is between Mary Pat Clarke, the incumbent, and Anthony D. Cobb, an Irvington neighborhood activist, a staff member of the National Federation of the Blind and a newcomer to local politics.

The third citywide official to be elected is city comptroller. With Hyman A. Pressman retiring after 28 years, voters must decide how that audit and fiscal management office should be run. The choices are Jacqueline McLean, a two-term Democratic City Council member, and Marshall W. Jones Jr., a well-known local funeral director.

Baltimore is such an overwhelmingly Democratic city that Republican candidates are challenging the incumbents in only four of the six districts and not always with a full slate of candidates. Nevertheless, voters in the First, Third, Fifth and Sixth districts have a choice among council candidates.

The important thing is to go to the polls between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. tomorrow and vote. This is an election in which citizens can participate directly in determining how Baltimore City is run. It is an opportunity that should not be missed.

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