Bell wants candidates for mayor to take pledge

April 22, 1999|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III urged all mayoral candidates yesterday to pledge that they will not accept the kinds of financial incentives proposed to lure NAACP President Kweisi Mfume into the race.

Bell, a mayoral hopeful in this year's election, issued a statement with a three-point pledge he is asking mayoral candidates to take.

Candidates should pledge to turn down an increase in the mayor's salary and to use speaker's fees for charitable purposes, until the city's financial crisis is resolved. The pledge also asks candidates to refuse to serve on corporate boards.

Bell's critics viewed the pledge as his attempt to undermine a candidacy by Mfume. Backers of an Mfume candidacy are exploring those options as ways to supplement the civil rights leader's income, if he becomes mayor.

Mfume, 50, makes $220,000 a year at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Baltimore's mayor makes $95,000. Mfume said during a speech this week that he would not join the race for money.

Even so, Bell, 37, is calling for all candidates to take his pledge.

"It's just the pronouncements of a desperate candidate," said Baltimore Democratic Del. Howard P. Rawlings, one of the primary champions of the effort to draw Mfume into the race.

Bell's latest ploy occurs after threats of overturning state legislation signed last week by Gov. Parris N. Glendening that reduced the residency requirement for mayoral candidates from a year to six months so Mfume -- who until recently lived in Baltimore County -- could join this year's race.

The state law has a clause that allows the City Council to restore the one-year residency requirement, but it does not appear that Bell has enough votes to support such an action.

Pub Date: 4/22/99

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