City restores candidate residency rule to one year

6-month term was created to entice Mfume to run

June 02, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore City Council unanimously voted last night to restore the one-year residency requirement for mayoral candidates, reversing a state law approved in April by Gov. Parris N. Glendening that trimmed the term to six months.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said last week that he would sign the measure. The state law, introduced by some Baltimore legislators, was intended to entice Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, to run for mayor. Mfume announced last week that he would not be a candidate.

West Baltimore Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., who supported Mfume's candidacy but opposed changing the residency law, welcomed last night's council vote as keeping the city charter intact. Mitchell called the General Assembly's change in the city law a slap to the council.

"This shows some backbone and shows our strength," Mitchell said. "We want to make sure that the next mayor of Baltimore knows all the ins and outs of our city and its people."

The residency change caused a groundswell of opposition from residents who felt it unfair to change the law for one candidate. But until Mfume decided not to run, opponents appeared to lack the 10 council votes needed to overturn the measure.

Schmoke has said that any change should be approved by city voters.

Northeast Baltimore Councilman Robert W. Curran, who also opposed the bill, said the vote should not be viewed as antagonistic to the state legislature.

In other action, Southeast Baltimore Councilman Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr. introduced a bill that he hopes will recruit police officers to Baltimore. Later this summer, the Police Department expects as many as 250 officers to retire when an incentive program expires.

Under the bill introduced by D'Adamo last night, the city would allow officers from surrounding communities to come into the force with up to five years of experience and receive similar pay.Currently, officers coming into the city -- regardless of experience -- are forced to start with rookie pay at $27,312. Under the new plan, officers with five years of experience could join the force earning $38,489.

Gary McLhinney, president of the city's Fraternal Order of Police union, said last night that the measure would help attract officers.

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