Volunteers take message to friend, foe, fence-sitter CAMPAIGN 1995 WITH THE CLARKE CAMPAIGN

September 10, 1995|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Sun Staff Writer

Jim David campaigns by committee. He takes his wife, his grandson, two buddies and a neighbor's kid on the trail for votes.

Clad in bright red and white "Mary Pat Clarke: For Baltimore" T-shirts, they gather in front of his house in the 1600 block of Broadway. The rowhouse next door displays a Kurt L. Schmoke poster.

Mr. David and his group pile into a station wagon and a sedan and head several blocks north to Bonaparte Avenue in East Baltimore. The cadre of volunteers sets off on foot here. Volunteers go door-to-door, keenly aware of what they are asking residents of this black neighborhood to do: vote for a white contender over a black incumbent for mayor.

Sometimes they run into people like Dorothy Rush, who waits in line at Tyrone's carryout. The black woman's appeal to a black volunteer for a white candidate is one of straight black pride.

"You should be ashamed of yourself," Ms. Rush tells Walter Black, 61, one of the volunteers for Mrs. Clarke, the City Council president, as he wades through the line at Tyrone's to hand out literature.

"We cannot unite as black people," Ms. Rush says after he leaves. "They shouldn't be for Mary Pat Clarke. They should be for Mayor Schmoke."

Mr. Black brushes the criticism aside and marches along Bonaparte Avenue. The squad leader, Mr. David, says the volunteers occasionally draw reactions like that campaigning in African-American areas of East Baltimore.

"I don't even bother with them," Mr. David says. "I just say to them, 'As long as you vote, I'm satisfied.' "

The two children, Shawn Evans, 6, and Joshua Johnson, 8, leave literature in doors. The adults, who include Mr. David's wife, Linda, and a neighbor, George Jones, chat with people on porches and sidewalks.

Mr. David retired last year as director of a city eviction prevention program.

He says he's been on one campaign trail or the other for more than 30 years.

He has worked in voter registration campaigns for the NAACP, he says, and volunteered on campaigns for William Donald Schaefer, Sen. Joseph Tydings and Mrs. Clarke's council bids.

He says he believes that Mrs. Clarke is closer to the people and will bring the city together. He says he fought segregation during the civil rights era and therefore is bothered by Mr. Schmoke's Afrocentric red, black and green signs and posters.

"What I'm concerned about at this point is not to split the city in half but to bring it together," Mr. David says. "How does a white person feel when he sees those signs? Mary Pat Clarke will be the mayor of all the people."

Mr. David says he might have a chance of persuading people like Joan Faulkner, 28, to support Mrs. Clarke. Although a Schmoke sign decorates her front lawn on Robb Street, she says she's still on the fence.

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