Supporters hope mayor heeds Clarke's criticisms CITY PRIMARY ELECTION 1995

September 14, 1995|By Joan Jacobson and Joe Mathews | Joan Jacobson and Joe Mathews,Sun Staff Writers Sun staff writer Robert Hilson Jr. contributed to this article.

A day after he won the Democratic mayoral primary, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke got mixed results among community leaders who are concerned about the Schmoke administration's past responsiveness to neighborhood problems.

Even the mayor's supporters said yesterday that they hope he has learned a lesson from challenger Mary Pat Clarke's criticism.

"I think the mayor has been awakened, and I think he will follow through on some of his commitment," said Linwood Cole, a Schmoke supporter who is president of the Renaissance Economic Development Project, a community group in Park Heights.

"I genuinely believe he will do better. Mary Pat had her pulse on the situation."

During the campaign, Mrs. Clarke raised many issues for which community leaders expect the mayor will be held accountable.

"I think he realizes he'll be held accountable for the promises he's made, and I think he'll fulfill those promises," said Jean Yarborough, a Schmoke supporter who lives in Park Heights.

"A lot of people think the mayor's Cabinet is not responsive to the problems people have, and I think he heard that."

That Mr. Schmoke won the Democratic nod for mayor was no surprise to many. In fact, some predicted an even larger margin of victory.

"He won big, and it should have been bigger," said Major Frazier, 21, a student at Baltimore City Community College. "I think this renews our confidence in Mayor Schmoke and shows that he can lead this city to greatness."

Many black voters said Mr. Schmoke, Baltimore's first elected black mayor, was always their mayoral candidate.

"I think it shows how important black voters are," said Charlene Dennis, a clothing store employee at Mondawmin Mall. "A lot of people thought that we wouldn't support the mayor. I'll bet they were surprised. It wasn't even close."

Ms. Dennis said rallies in her Rosemont neighborhood in West Baltimore stressed the importance of voting -- and touted the credentials of black candidates.

"A lot of people said they liked Mary Pat, and maybe they did. But I think that once push came to shove they voted for Schmoke at vote time," Ms. Dennis said.

Glenwood Thomas, a 39-year-old city employee, said newspaper endorsements and attacks by Mrs. Clarke on the mayor galvanized the black community and helped produce the turnout.

"That doesn't mean the vote was based on race," Mr. Thomas said. "I'm glad Mrs. Clarke stepped in. But while keeping alleys clean is nice, I decided the city needed someone who could get to the federal government, get to the state -- because the city needs money."

Other residents said they thought seriously about voting for Mrs. Clarke, but were turned off after watching a Schmoke campaign ad noting that the City Council president once had suggested taxing the profits of drug dealers.

"In this neighborhood, that kind of killed it for her," said Marvin Lee, 32, who owns a barber shop on Reisterstown Road.

Ted Getzel, a businessman in the Hollins Market area and co-owner of the Mencken's Cultured Pearl Cafe, said Mr. Schmoke must work to heal any racial wounds.

"I think that the mayor has to work to make all citizens of the city, including the minority whites, feel they can be participants in the governing work of the city and creating a better Baltimore.

"I also think he has to recognize that there's a public safety crisis, perceived and real," said Mr. Getzel, who heads the Southwest Merchants Association.

Mr. Getzel couldn't vote in the election because he moved out of the city three years ago.

In Highlandtown in East Baltimore, some residents saw the election as a sign that no one cares about crime and decay. Many had voted for Mrs. Clarke.

"When I got married and moved to Highlandtown 25 years ago, there were stores everywhere," said Whitey Myers, 47. "Now, it's not safe to walk down from here to Eastern Avenue. We've lost a lot of people from the neighborhood, and we'll lose a lot more because of this election."

In Hampden, a predominantly white community in West Baltimore, Kelly Conway and Jill L. Fritz said they were infuriated by Mr. Schmoke's victory. Ms. Conway said she wanted to move out of the city.

"I'm leaving," said Ms. Conway, 32. "I don't like what's happening in the city."

Ms. Fritz, 36, said she can't move, "but I would if I could."

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