For city's top job, the six to watch

September 01, 1999

HOW CAN voters tell which of the 25 candidates in the race for Baltimore mayor are the most serious contenders? No scientific method exists for such an undertaking. But a half-dozen contenders -- four Democrats and two Republicans -- have emerged as the front-runners vying for their respective party's nomination on Sept. 14.

They have much in common. Four have held elective office. A fifth has served on three different city boards and commissions. The sixth candidate has a strong business background.

All are active in their communities or their political parties. Some of them have second careers.

They have solid credentials. And perhaps most important, their work in the community, in business, in politics and in government has made them well known to city voters.

Let's take a closer look at how the six stand out.

Government, business experience

Three of the candidates served on the Baltimore City Council together: Lawrence A. Bell III, Martin O'Malley and Carl Stokes.

Mr. O'Malley, 36, is winding up his second term on the council.

Mr. Stokes, 49, finished his second council term in 1995. He was then appointed by the governor and mayor to sit on the newly reconstituted school board. He resigned in December to run for mayor.

Mr. Bell, 37, used his two council terms as a springboard to the council president's job in 1995. He defeated fellow Councilman Joseph J. DiBlasi by 7,000 votes that year.

While she has not served on the City Council, Mary W. Conaway, 56, has been elected register of wills five times by city voters. In that job, she oversees the courthouse office that handles wills and estates.

Given the lopsided Democratic lead in voter registration, no Republican can boast any experience in elective city offices.

But one of the two leading Republican candidates, David Tufaro, has considerable executive and management experience in business, and the other, Carl M. Adair, has run his own company and served on three city government panels.

For more than 30 years, Mr. Adair, 65, owned and operated Amoco service stations in Baltimore. He has also filled the Republican-designated seat on the city elections board, the city's Community Relations Commission and the city Planning Commission.

Mr. Tufaro, 52, is making his first run for public office. He brings to the race solid business credentials as a successful developer of Baltimore-area housing projects over the past two decades, including Waterloo Place, Mount Clare Overlook and the Louis Foxwell Housing for the Deaf.

Second careers

Most of these candidates have had multiple careers. The lone exception is Mr. Bell, who has been a full-time politician for much of his adult life.

Mr. O'Malley is an attorney. He worked for two years as an assistant state's attorney and for the past nine years as a defense trial lawyer. After hours, he sings in an Irish band, O'Malley's March.

Ms. Conaway also has performed professionally as a singer and is an ordained minister. She is pastor of Cecil Memorial United Methodist Church in Annapolis. Previously, Ms. Conaway was a special education teacher.

Mr. Stokes owned clothing stores for seven years, then worked as a circulation manager for The Sun, until 1991. He is now a business development executive for Mid-Atlantic Health Care.

Mr. Adair, in addition to his service-station business, has been a teacher in the city schools and a department chairman and dean of students at Coppin State College.

Mr. Tufaro started out as an attorney at the law firm of Piper & Marbury. After five years, he used his degree in urban planning to run projects for Oxford Development Corp. and now for Summit Properties.

Community activities

All of these candidates point to their involvement in civic groups. The mix of activities is intriguing.

Mr. Tufaro has volunteered with housing-related organizations around the city. Mr. Adair favors college alumni groups. Mr. Bell has worked with city jail inmates and delinquents at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in Baltimore County.

Mr. Stokes serves on the boards of the Institute of Notre Dame and the Eubie Blake Cultural Arts Center and helped found the Baltimore Basketball Association and a sickle-cell anemia clinic known as ASSERT.

Mr. O'Malley lists his church membership and activity in the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. Ms. Conaway is active in church-related organizations.

Party politics

Ms. Conaway has attended three Democratic National Conventions as an elected delegate and served four years on the Democratic State Central Committee.

Mr. Adair was elected as a delegate to the 1980 Republican National Convention and also was elected by party voters as a member of the Republican State Central Committee representing Baltimore City.

Mr. O'Malley has worked as a campaign organizer for presidential candidates Gary Hart and John Kerry and for U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.

Name recognition

The three Democratic candidates are well-known by voters, which is not surprising given their high level of political and civic involvement. In the latest poll by Gonzales/Arscott Research & Communications Inc., Mr. Bell's name recognition is 99 percent; Mr. Stokes' is 97 percent; Mr. O'Malley's is 92 percent; and Ms. Conaway's is 86 percent.

Voter familiarity with these names gives these candidates a distinct advantage over the other contenders on Election Day.

Pub Date: 09/01/99

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