Cade, Schaefer for state comptroller Sun endorsements: Years of government experience give these two candidates clear advantage.

August 30, 1998

WHAT, exactly, does the Maryland state comptroller do? While Louis L. Goldstein was around, few dealt with that question. We knew plenty about the legendary Louie, but little about the post he occupied for nearly 40 years.

Contrary to popular belief, Maryland's comptroller does not have to be an eagle-eyed accountant. The comptroller isn't given the power to audit state agencies. That power is vested in the legislative auditor's office.

Nor does the state comptroller have to be a financial expert to invest the $250 million a day in state revenue that pours in. That job belongs to the state treasurer.

Thanks to Mr. Goldstein, the next comptroller need not be a tax lawyer or computer expert, either. Over the years, he has set up a modern, well-functioning office of 1,100 employees who smoothly collect state taxes, send out refunds promptly and give customer-friendly advice.

What do we expect, then, of Mr. Goldstein's successor?

This is primarily a political post. It's always been that way. Mr. Goldstein had no financial or accounting background in 1968 when he first won the job, just a career in the state legislature.

Above all, the next comptroller must possess a thorough understanding of state government. Beyond the collection of taxes, the comptroller serves on the powerful Board of Public Works -- along with the governor and treasurer -- which approves billions of dollars in government projects every year.

The comptroller must be someone of independence who views each project cautiously and looks out for the interests of taxpayers.

Republican Ardath M. Cade and Democrat William Donald Schaefer are best suited, in our view, to perform those tasks. They far surpass their opponents. Government experience counts in a statewide office.

Ms. Cade, the widow of the late Sen. John A. Cade of Anne Arundel County, long ago established her own credentials as a skilled government administrator. She ran the daily operations of Charles County for seven years and did the same thing for the state's housing department for over a decade. She now oversees health, social services, housing and recreation agencies for Anne Arundel's county executive.

Ms. Cade knows state government from the inside. She understands financial complexities, such as what must be done to retain the state's gilt-edged bond rating. She has managed a large state department. She works well with people, regardless of their politics.

She is thoughtful, clear-headed and knowledgeable -- and the Republican Party's best candidate.

Democratic voters have an equally clear choice. William Donald Schaefer knows how government ticks. Eight years as governor, 15 years as Baltimore's mayor, 16 years on the City Council. Colorful and controversial, yes. But exceptionally capable, too.

It is easy to forget that as mayor, Mr. Schaefer was renowned for his tightwad approach to city budgeting. He promises that same conservative approach as comptroller.

His priorities are compellingly simple: Retain Maryland's AAA bonding rating; serve as a cheerleader for economic growth and bridge-builder to businesses; and continue the Goldstein legacy for efficient yet friendly tax collection.

Both Ms. Cade and Mr. Schaefer are strong-minded individuals, but they know how to seek consensus. They could work with either a Republican or Democratic governor.

Attorney General

Voters must wait until after the Sept. 15 primary for this two-person race to come alive.

Neither Democratic incumbent J. Joseph Curran Jr. nor Republican Paul H. Rappaport has opposition for his respective party's nomination.

Pub Date: 8/30/98

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