Baltimoreans approve first City Charter revision in three decades ELECTION 1994

November 09, 1994|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore voters last night decisively approved the first City Charter revision in three decades by a nearly 2-1 margin.

The charter revision -- Question J on the ballot -- won the approval of about two-thirds of the voters.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who appointed a Charter Review Commission two years ago to make recommendations on revising the document that details the operations of city agencies, said he was pleased with the result.

"I thought the commission did an outstanding job studying the issues and making this a charter that will allow city government to be more responsive to the demands placed on government in the 1990s," Mr. Schmoke said through his spokesman.

Nine bond issues worth $30 million also won resounding approval.

In the half-dozen contested races for state Senate and House seats, Democrats were uniformly trouncing their Republican opponents.

Incumbent Democratic state Sens. Ralph M. Hughes in the 40th District, Barbara A. Hoffman in the 42nd and George W. Della Jr. in the 47th won by respective margins of 18-1, 3 1/2 -1 and 4-1.

Three incumbent Democratic state senators -- Clarence W. Blount in the 41st, John A. Pica, Jr. in the 43rd and Larry Young in the 44th -- were unopposed. Also unopposed were Democratic primary winners Nathaniel J. McFadden in the 45th District and Perry Sfikas in the 46th District.

In the House, Democratic primary winners Frank D. Boston Jr., Margaret H. Murphy and Nathaniel T. Oaks won easy victories over three Republican challengers in the 41st -- the only one of eight state legislative districts in which the GOP fielded a full slate of House candidates.

Democratic primary winners Cornell N. Dypski, Peter A. Hammen and Carolyn J. Krysiak in the 46th and Brian K. McHale and Timothy D. Murphy in 47A were also on their way to the State House, despite challenges by lone Republican candidates in each district.

Democratic House slates in all the other districts were unopposed.

The only other contested local city race yesterday was in the Orphans' Court, where the three Democratic incumbents were being swept into another term over a single GOP candidate.

The key features of the proposed charter revision would give the mayor a direct role in the appointment of the school superintendent and planning director.

Under the existing charter, the school board and planning commission -- both made up of members who are mayoral appointments -- appoint the school superintendent and planning director. Under the proposed revision, the mayor would appoint both from a list submitted by the board and commission.

The terms of the school board and Planning Commission members would be reduced from six years to four, with half of them to run concurrently with the term of the mayor and the others to be appointed two years into the mayor's four-year term.

The proposed charter change also would give the mayor the power, with the consent of the council, to subdivide the six councilmanic districts. Other provisions of the revised charter give the mayor and council the right to subdivide the six councilmanic districts and cut from 60 to 45 the number of days the council has to consider the city's annual budget.

The largest bond issues on the ballot are a $8 million for school repairs and asbestos removal and $7 million for various community development projects, including $1.5 million to turn vacant lots in West Sandtown-Winchester into parks and playgrounds.

Among other issues are $2.5 million to replace cages at the zoo with natural habitat and $1 million to make improvements at Patterson Park.

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