... Looking ahead Choices: Issues are important, but voters will also need to decide the kind of person they want as leader.

December 04, 1998

WITH THE mayoral primary coming up in September, it is not premature to begin to think about the qualities desirable in the man or woman who would next lead Baltimore.

The next mayor must be able to articulate a vision for Baltimore that is not limited by the way things have always been done here.

He or she must be a leader, capable at times of taking people where they may not think they want to go. He or she must seek ways to heal the divisions, based too often on race, that have so severely hampered civic discourse in this city.

The next mayor must be able to connect with other CEOs and with average citizens. Dialogue must begin that helps identify common interests. Only then will this community be able to plan for a future that maximizes opportunity for growth in which all Baltimoreans might participate.

Leading change is never easy. All of this will mean making tough choices. But no tougher than those being made by some of the 1,000 or so Baltimore residents who each month leave the city.

The next mayor must be a thinker and a doer. An unabashed civic booster. A manager knowlegeable about best practices in municipal administration and able to reach out to bring the best and the brightest into city government.

Over time in this column, The Sun will seek to identify the qualities and skills it believes Baltimore's next mayor must possess.

Of course, we'll also be taking a look at the issues, and some likely themes in the 1999 mayoral elections are predictable. Public safety, education and economic development will surely be among them.

The Sun -- and the electorate -- will be eager to hear the candidates' thoughts. Their responses to the questions we all hope to pose are important.

But so is the conduct of their campaigns, as well as the light that is shed on their candidacies by a close examination of their records. Glib answers won't identify the person best able to provide the leadership the city will need during the early years of the 21st century.

Character, accomplishment and leadership ability will be better guides.

Pub Date: 12/04/98

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