Delegate hopeful may not be on ballot Election board says not enough signatures for Lisa Mitchell

August 15, 1998|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

The brother-sister political team of Del. Clarence M. Mitchell IV and Lisa Mitchell opened their campaign office in downtown Baltimore last night. There was only one problem: Lisa Mitchell may not be on the ballot in her race for state delegate.

Clarence Mitchell, 36, a Democrat from the 44th District, is seeking to move from the House of Delegates to the state Senate seat vacated in January by expelled state Sen. Larry Young.

Lisa Mitchell, 35, is one of several candidates vying for three House of Delegates seats from the same district. She filed to run as an independent but has apparently failed to submit enough valid signatures to appear on the November general election ballot.

In a letter to Mitchell on Thursday, an official from the State Administrative Board of Election Laws wrote that more than half of her 1,517 signatures were invalid -- meaning they were not from voters registered in the 44th District.

Candidates who want to appear on the general election ballot as independents must get signatures from 3 percent of their district's registered voters. In the 44th District, the minimum was 894 signatures, said the letter; Mitchell had 754 valid ones.

"If there is an issue with my ballot access," Mitchell said yesterday, "I will go through every available channel to get on the ballot."

The Mitchells are children of former state Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell III. He was one of several members of the prominent Baltimore political family to speak at the opening of the campaign headquarters on Park Avenue. Several dozen supporters attended.

The 44th District, which includes several of Baltimore's poorest neighborhoods, has been in political turmoil since Young was expelled from the state Senate for using his public office to benefit corporations he created.

Lisa Mitchell, a former talk show host on WOLB radio, can request that state elections officials recount her list of signatures, but the deadline for new signatures passed Aug. 3.

The five-member State Administrative Board of Election Laws also may review the situation, though Donna J. Duncan, director of the Election Management Division, said waivers for the signature requirements are uncommon.

"I've known of none that have been given in the past," Duncan said.

Lisa Mitchell would also be free to run as a write-in candidate, but candidates on ballots typically have a far easier time getting votes.

Pub Date: 8/15/98

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