Poll's a picnic for Bell

The Political Game

Survey: Straw ballots cast at a weekend Druid Hill Park gathering put the council president over Stokes and O'Malley.

August 24, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

TAKING A page from the recent Iowa presidential straw poll two weeks ago, WOLB-AM radio conducted a similar survey over the weekend at its Stone Soul Picnic.

At the Druid Hill Park event, 808 people cast ballots and gave City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III the nod.

Bell received 388 votes, about 48 percent of the ballots cast. Former City Councilman Carl Stokes finished second with 206, or 25 percent of the vote, and Northeast City Councilman Martin O'Malley grabbed 127 votes, 16 percent of the ballots.

The poll is being viewed as a good gauge of candidate support among African-American voters. But WOLB morning show host and former state Sen. Larry Young warned listeners not to read too much into it.

"For all intents and purposes, it's nothing but bragging rights," Young said.

Group seeks candidate vows to ban restaurant smoking

Mayoral candidates are being asked to pledge that they'll introduce legislation that would ban smoking in city restaurants.

Smoke Free Maryland recently released a poll that showed 57 percent of likely voters in Maryland support legislation that would ban smoking in restaurants.

The anti-smoking group sent pledge forms to the city's mayoral candidates.

Leaders of the group said yesterday they have not received pledges from any of the mayoral candidates.

Mfume makes appearance at Stokes' fund-raiser

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume fulfilled his commitment to attend a fund-raiser for Stokes over the weekend.

The leader of the nation's oldest civil rights group created a stir two weeks ago when he arrived at a fund-raiser for O'Malley. Mfume, who spurned an effort to draft him into the race, called O'Malley a "friend" but said his appearance was not an endorsement.

In December, Mfume attended a fund-raiser for his cousin, Bell.

Mfume, who will moderate a mayoral debate Monday on television station WBAL, promised to attend a Stokes function to get a feel for the mayoral campaigns. Mfume joined Stokes on Sunday at the home of a Stokes supporter.

About 100 people attended the fund-raiser, which cost $250 per ticket.

Gay and lesbian center sounds out candidates

Every special-interest group in the city is attempting to measure where the candidates stand on issues affecting them.

The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore Inc. sent out questionnaires to candidates asking their positions on everything from discrimination to funding for AIDS research.

Those candidates who have served on the City Council pointed to their votes on the 1994 bill that would have provided benefits to the domestic partners of city employees.

The bill was sponsored by O'Malley and Stokes. O'Malley voted for the bill. Bell said he opposed the measure because it was poorly written.

Stokes declined to vote after getting criticism from the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, he said.

"I had hoped there would be dialogue between the two constituencies," Stokes said. "When there was none, I decided to abstain."

Stokes-backed legislation helped potential GOP foe

City Council legislation introduced by Stokes in 1989 helped a man he may face in the November mayoral general election: Republican mayoral candidate David F. Tufaro.

Tufaro, a Roland Park developer, built the Waterloo Place condominium project at Calvert and Centre streets. The former attorney was able to defer paying taxes on the project because of council legislation introduced by Stokes for the project.

Tufaro acknowledged that he had been a longtime supporter and contributor to Stokes' past campaigns.

"I've generally supported Carl," Tufaro said.

Vending firms give $3,000 to O'Malley's campaign

Vending company interests contributed about $3,000 to the O'Malley campaign, according to recent campaign finance reports.

In 1996, O'Malley introduced an amendment to City Council legislation that would have reduced the annual licensing fee for vending operators from $450 to $175. O'Malley was criticized by council members such as Sheila Dixon, who objected to a rate reduction while the city struggled to find money for new schools.

O'Malley pushed the cut, he said, to make the city tax on machines commensurate with Baltimore County. He defended the measure, saying that he has backed similar bills to make everything from parking rates to taxes on cigar sales match the county.

"Consistently over the years, I haven't supported any increase that taxes people higher in the city than in the county," O'Malley said.

The amendment failed.

Pub Date: 8/24/99

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