City picks for districts 40 and 41

August 08, 1994

West Baltimore's 40th legislative district has long been a tough battleground. A breakthrough election in 1954 sent a black state senator and two black delegates to Annapolis, signaling the decline of the once-powerful white Pollack machine. In later years, the district witnessed fierce turf fights among rival African-American factions.

As a result of redistricting, this district's borders have changed. Stretching from Northern Parkway along the Park Heights Avenue and Reisterstown Road corridors to Harlem Park, the district now contains parts of Reservoir Hill, Bolton Hill, Charles Village and Waverly. This has introduced so much uncertainty that the incumbents have buried their hatchets and formed the district's first "unity" ticket in more than 40 years.

We have no trouble endorsing Sen. Ralph Hughes for re-election, despite two credible challengers, attorney Alfred Nance and Norman Brailey, son of a former state senator. Mr. Hughes may be quiet, but he has left his mark in the legislature by championing gun control legislation and a city neighborhood ban on billboard ads for alcohol.

Del. Howard P. Rawlings, an important legislative leader and fighter for the city and his district, merits a strong endorsement. For the seat now held by Del. Tony Fulton, who has done little to deserve another term, we recommend attorney Lisa B. Williams. She would be a serious, issue-oriented delegate in Annapolis.

Robert L. Clay, a pioneering minority contractor who spends much of his time in Laurel, is fighting for the third seat with a well-financed campaign, but we favor the incumbent, Salima Marriott.

Viable alternatives are in short supply in the neighboring 41st district, which runs from Park Heights Avenue to Wilkens Road on the city's westside. Its political kingpin is Sen. Clarence W. Blount, who has been in Annapolis since 1971 and majority leader since 1983. Mr. Blount is instrumental in safeguarding the whole city's interests and deserves re-election one more time.

Former Del. Nathaniel Oaks, convicted of stealing campaign funds in 1988, is trying to regain his seat. Voters should strongly rebuff his effort and go with the incumbents, Frank D. Boston Jr., Margaret H. Murphy and Samuel M. Parham.

Tomorrow: Districts 42 and 43.

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