9 Baltimore Circuit judges advance In early vote tallies, Conaway ahead in race for clerk of the court

City court, clerk

Primary 1998

September 16, 1998|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

The nine sitting judges on Baltimore's Circuit Court were re-elected last night to the seats they were appointed to -- surviving a challenge by a city prosecutor.

With 96 percent of the precincts counted, challenger Page Croyder was in last place in both the Democratic and Republican primaries. Croyder conceded defeat, saying she had no regrets about running.

"It was always an uphill battle," Croyder said. "But I call upon the judges to do a better job in the future because I am packing away my yard signs, and if they don't start doing a better job I may unpack them."

In both primaries, Croyder was about 2 percentage points behind the incumbent judge with the lowest vote total.

Judge Evelyn Omega Cannon, who said she was pleased with the judges' win, noted that the jurists were required to undergo careful scrutiny before they were appointed.

"We went through a very detailed examination. After going through that process, we were found to be qualified, and the governor appointed us," Cannon said. "I think we work hard as judges, and I think we do a good job."

Under state law, Circuit Court judges must run in the first state election after their appointment.

About 357,806 votes had been counted in both primaries by 11: 45 p.m.

In the race for clerk of the Circuit Court, former state Del. Frank M. Conaway appeared to be the winner.

Conaway had 22 percent of the vote.

His closest challenger, Pamela Carter-Goodwin, had 20 percent.

Conaway, who twice served as a delegate, said he was pleased to return to public service.

Conaway said the first thing he planned to do was commission a "comprehensive" study of the clerk's office so that intelligent decisions can be made about its future.

"I have no idea what needs to be done," said Conaway, 65, an administrator with the Maryland Department of Transportation. "I think it has to be looked at."

The nine candidates in the race are Democrats.

Despite the large number of candidates, the races generated little voter interest.

The offices are fairly unknown outside the courthouse.

One woman said yesterday that she voted in neither race because she does not like to vote in elections that she knows nothing about.

"I didn't know them," said Colleen Morris, 30, as she left the South Baltimore precinct yesterday. "I [would] feel stupid" voting in those races.

The candidates for the clerk's office were Conaway, Carter-Goodwin, William Allen, William Norris Burgee, Deborah English, Gwendolyn B. Jones, Charles W. Mackey Jr., Pinkney McCready and Arthur W. Murphy.

On the ticket for judges' seats were nine sitting judges -- Cannon, John Carroll Byrnes, Marcella A. Holland, Kenneth Lavon Johnson, Margaret Brooke Murdock, Alfred Nance, William D. Quarles, Allen L. Schwait and Thomas J. S. Waxter -- and Croyder, an assistant state's attorney for Baltimore.

The courthouse races were high-pitched.

The clerk's race generated accusations of political intimidation and mudslinging.

The nine sitting judges found themselves aggressively trying to protect their seats on the bench by canvassing the city -- showing up at community meetings and shaking hands at local markets.

The judges raised $216,000 by August mostly from attorneys, friends and fund-raisers such as a $100-a-plate lunch last week.

That was a kingly sum compared to what Croyder amassed.

She raised little more than $7,600 -- a chunk of which came from a relative, according to her treasurer.

The race did not seem to strike a chord with many voters.

Several voters in a half-dozen precincts shrugged their shoulders when asked about the judges' race.

"I've seen this stuff around," said Stephen Kain, a community activist and educator in South Baltimore, referring to the sitting judges campaign literature, "but I had no idea who these people are. I didn't vote for any of the judges."

Pub Date: 9/16/98

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