Challenger isn't altering time-for-a-change stance MAYOR CANDIDATES SQUEEZE LAST DAYS CAMPAIGN 1995

September 09, 1995|By Scott Higham | Scott Higham,Sun Staff Writer

The feud for mayor started early yesterday morning.

Mary Pat Clarke and her squad of red-shirted volunteers were standing along Auchentoroly Terrace, waving their colorful placards, when a squad from the Schmoke campaign showed up at 8:35.

Six squad members took to the streets, waving their own candidate's signs.

"We stand," Mrs. Clarke called out to her volunteers, many of them momentarily stunned. "We're not leaving. We've got this corner."

"Wave!" she told her staffers. "Wave!"

With 72 hours left before Election Day, Mrs. Clarke is going street-to-street, door-to-door, trying to narrow the slim margin in the polls between her and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

On the campaign trial yesterday, she was tireless. She fluttered from one voter to another, racing up stoops, strutting across sidewalks, stopping motorists in parking lots.

Her message is simple: Crime is rising, the quality of life is falling, it's time for someone new at City Hall.

It's 7:55 a.m. when Mrs. Clarke first meets her volunteers at the Gwynns Falls Parkway and Auchentoroly Terrace. She grabs a sign and starts to wave it at the rush-hour traffic.

Within 10 minutes, there's trouble. Two city public works employees pull up. They say they've been sent by their boss -- a Mayor Schmoke supporter -- to remove the campaign signs stuck in the grass on the public right-of-way.

Mrs. Clarke's campaign workers confront him. They say political signs of other candidates -- friends of Mayor Schmoke's -- are stuck along the right-of-way. They refuse to remove Mrs. Clarke's signs.

"I don't want to get involved in this," the city worker says before driving off.

Twenty minutes later, the Schmoke squad shows up. Mrs. Clarke is seething. The mayor, it seems, violated an unwritten rule. Once a candidate claims a corner, the opposition is supposed to stay away.

"This is typical of the mayor," she says. "Too little, too late. They missed the rush hour."

She turns to her volunteers. "Rush hour's over. Shut it down. Let them stand alone."

At 9:02, she pulls into the Lakeview Towers on Druid Park Drive. About 50 seniors are about to board buses for an Atlantic City trip.

4 "Good morning everybody," she says. "Good luck!"

By 9:45, Mrs. Clarke is in Allendale, a quiet neighborhood of 1,500 rowhouses in West Baltimore. She's ready for the streets, for the door-to-door campaign that she believes can turn the election.

Carolyn Handy stops her, thanking her for helping persuade the city to knock down some trees in a neighborhood lot, once used by drug dealers for cover from the law. She says she voted for Mayor Schmoke before, but not this time.

"We need a change," she says. "I see more from her than from him."

At 12:15, Mrs. Clarke stops by Latrobe Homes, where housing activist Devon Wilford is telling a group of tenants that federal budget cuts will hit them hard.

The crowd applauds Mrs. Clarke. Mayor Schmoke is somewhere else.

Ms. Wilford says the mayor was invited to attend a meeting at the East Baltimore community Aug. 21. Three days after the meeting, she says, she received a letter from the mayor saying he could not attend.

Yesterday, she didn't invite the mayor.

Mrs. Clarke heads to Harlem Park. She greets a man in a rowhouse.

"Frankly speaking, I'm going to be sticking by the present mayor," the man says.

"That's OK," she says. "All I'm asking for is your consideration."

The man smiles. She continues to campaign. Another hour in Harlem Park. Then to Waverly. Then to Belvedere Square. Then to Ednor Gardens. Then to a gala for one of her favorite causes, the Living Classrooms Foundation.

Then home. She just wasn't sure when.

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