Stokes says he'd accept Tufaro job in housing

GOP mayoral nominee and friend has floated idea of commissioner post

October 28, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Former Democratic mayoral contender Carl Stokes said yesterday that he would serve as Baltimore's housing commissioner if Republican mayoral nominee David F. Tufaro wins Tuesday's general election.

The former East Baltimore city councilman who finished second in last month's Democratic primary, however, was quick to note that he doesn't expect to go to City Hall with Tufaro.

Tufaro, a Roland Park developer making his first bid for public office, faces a challenge in trying to beat Democratic nominee Martin O'Malley next week. O'Malley defeated Stokes and 15 other primary candidates on Sept. 14, gaining 53 percent of the vote.

The only poll conducted since the primary and before the Nov. 2 general election -- released yesterday by WMAR-TV Channel 2 -- shows O'Malley garnering as much as 87 percent of the vote citywide.

Tufaro has been a longtime Stokes supporter and has contributed to his past campaigns. Stokes said he was asked by Tufaro to serve and agreed, thought he knows that Tufaro faces monumental odds.

"It's like saying if I hit the lottery, I'll give you a million bucks," Stokes said. "We've been friends for a number of years, and I said that I'd be flattered to be considered and if asked, I would serve."

Tufaro said that he would hire Stokes as his housing commissioner because the two share the same views about the need to shift the city government's economic development focus from downtown to neighborhoods.

Stokes, who has returned to his job as a representative for an Owings Mills health care company, released his latest campaign contribution report yesterday.

The report showed that during the primary race he raised $724,494 and ended with a debt of $20,000.

Stokes will be the host at a "unity" fund-raiser with city Democratic party members on Dec. 5 at the B&O Railroad Museum to help pay off the debt, he said. O'Malley has agreed to attend.

Among the most notable contributions of the $243,580 that Stokes raised in the final weeks of the primary was $2,000 from the leftover congressional campaign account of NAACP President Kweisi Mfume. Mfume donated a similar amount to O'Malley.

O'Malley and Tufaro met yesterday in the final televised debate of the campaign. The media was excluded from reporting on the WMAR-TV debate, which will be aired on Channel 2 on Sunday at 10 a.m. and 11: 45 p.m.

The television station, however, released the only general election poll taken, showing that O'Malley could pick up as much as 60 percent of the Republican vote. Democratic voters outnumber registered Republicans in the city, 8 to 1.

The telephone query conducted by Survey USA took place Monday and Tuesday. Television officials said 500 likely city voters were called. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Tufaro responded yesterday to the poll results by saying he was surprised by the WMAR numbers and that he doesn't believe the odds against him to be that grim.

The two men vying to become Baltimore's 47th mayor will meet in their final radio debates today on two area programs.

First they will appear on the Larry Young Morning Show on WOLB-AM 1010 at 8 a.m. They will meet again at noon on the Marc Steiner Show on WJHU-FM 88.1, when they will be questioned by youths from the Safe and Sound Youth Ambassadors program. The Steiner show forum was organized by the newly created Neighborhood Congress citizens group.

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