City voters to decide on $45 million in loans Baltimore voters to face 10 issues on Nov. 3 ballot

October 28, 1998|By Eric Siegel and Gerard Shields | Eric Siegel and Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Baltimore residents will vote Tuesday on whether the city should borrow up to $45 million on a range of projects, from city home buying to cultural investment. The issues -- 10 on the ballot -- are so numerous that they outnumber the contested local races for offices in the general election.

Only six state legislative races -- out of 31 in the city -- were not determined by September's primary. Voters in the 1st, 3rd and ** 7th congressional districts, which encompass parts of the city, will choose their representatives.

None of the citywide courthouse jobs for positions ranging from state's attorney to clerk of the court is being contested in an overwhelmingly Democratic city, where no Republican has been elected in 35 years.

Voters, however, will cast ballots in the statewide races for offices such as governor and comptroller.

Ten issues on all city ballots ask voters to give Baltimore permission to borrow $45 million to pay for everything from housing improvements to asbestos removal. The 10 ballot issues are:

$13 million for housing and home buying projects, including low-interest settlement loans and a $5,000 incentive to city employees who move into the city. Also included is $1.5 million to demolish vacant houses in the city and another $1.5 million to replace high-rise public housing recently demolished.

$12 million school loan. The money would supplement state funds dedicated to the Baltimore school construction program. Seven city schools would directly benefit from the money.

$11 million for economic development. This issue would allow the city to borrow $500,000 each for development of Coldspring Business Park, Carroll Industrial Park, Fairfield Industrial Park and East Baltimore Industrial Area. The money also would be used to create business corridors in areas such as Pleasant View Gardens, Johns Hopkins Hospital and Church Home and Hospital.

$3 million for libraries. The money would assist the city in developing the first of four regional libraries in Baltimore, a 30,000-square-foot facility in the Southeastern District.

$3 million in three ballot issues for city culture. Walters Art Gallery, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Baltimore Museum of Art would each have their own ballot question for $1 million loans.

$1 million for recreation and parks. The city would redesign and reconstruct Patterson Park Boat Lake in addition to redeveloping the historic conservancy and its gardens in Druid Hill Park to meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

$1 million for a new police academy. The state-of-the-art facility would be in Coppin Heights.

$1 million for asbestos removal. The money would cover removing or covering asbestos in city buildings.

The city has held nine community meetings on the bond issues. Even the city's critics acknowledge that Baltimore has remained frugal in its borrowing, with debt rising by less than $2 million over the last decade.

"The city has been pretty conservative in undertaking capital improvements," said George Nilson, president of the Baltimore Homeowners Coalition. "Far be it from us to take the position that the city never does anything right."

In the congressional races, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a veteran Baltimore-area Democrat, faces GOP challenger Colin Felix Harby, a design engineer, in the largely Democratic 3rd District; Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, has a rematch of his contest two years ago against Republican Kenneth Kodner in the overwhelmingly Democrat 7th; and Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, a Kent County Republican, squares off against Irving Pinder, a natural resources official, in the conservative 1st District, which runs from the Eastern Shore to the southernmost tip of Baltimore.

Of the six State House seats being contested in the city, half are in the 47th Legislative District, which includes much of South Baltimore and Catonsville in Baltimore County.

In the Senate race, incumbent George W. Della Jr., a Democrat bidding for a fifth term, faces Republican Edward Fowler, a psychiatric researcher from Catonsville.

In House District 47A, incumbent Democrats Timothy D. Murphy and Brian K. McHale face challenges from Republican veteran Anthony F. Forlenza and newcomer William W. Sheldon. (The district's third House seat, in District 47B, is in Baltimore County.)

Two of the other seven state senators who represent districts solely or predominantly in the city face nominal challenges.

In West Baltimore's 40th Legislative District, two-term incumbent Democrat Ralph M. Hughes faces a rematch with Republican Melvin E. Stubbs, whom he defeated by a margin of 9 1/2 -to-1 in 1994. And in Northeast's 43rd Legislative District, incumbent Democrat Joan Carter Conway is being challenged by a little-known independent, Nimrod Westcott Jr.

Outside the 47th, the only House seat being contested is in North Baltimore's 42nd Legislative District. Republican Jeffrey B. Smith Jr., a security guard at Sinai Hospital making his first run for public office, is challenging incumbent Democrats James W. Campbell, Maggie L. McIntosh and Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg.

Pub Date: 10/28/98

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