Candidates busy in final days of race

O'Malley and Tufaro visit city churches, Halloween events

Taped forum also airs

Both men expected at North Ave. rally with Larry Young

November 01, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's mayoral hopefuls worked the crowds yesterday at city churches and Halloween events, as the two candidates entered the final stretch toward Election Day tomorrow.

Democrat Martin O'Malley and Republican David F. Tufaro had a fairly light schedule in their campaigns, which have survived an often brutal 12-month mayoral race that had as many as 27 candidates.

"We've said and done about everything we can," said Tufaro as he campaigned at the Baltimore Zoo. "There isn't much more to say."

About 100,000 Baltimore voters are expected at the polls tomorrow to select the city's next leader in the first city election in 28 years without an incumbent mayor running for re-election.

During a prerecorded mayoral forum broadcast yesterday on WMAR-TV (Channel 2), O'Malley and Tufaro fielded separate questions on issues ranging from schools to law enforcement.

Tufaro, a 52-year-old developer from Roland Park, contended that giving city parents school vouchers -- which would use taxpayer money to send children to private schools of their choice -- would create the competition needed to turn around the troubled city school system.

O'Malley, a 36-year-old Northeast Baltimore city councilman, strongly opposed Tufaro's call for school vouchers. He called the policy "pulling the rip cord on the public school system."

"I'm not willing to give up on the public school system," said O'Malley, who advocates putting more resources into preschool education. "The money needs to stay in the school system."

Tufaro was asked to explain his recent criticism of city police in the fatal shooting of a 21-year-old black East Baltimore man by a white officer.

Tufaro has called the death of Larry J. Hubbard, who fled from a suspected stolen car, "unnecessary" because of the nature of the alleged offense.

"It was not an event that should have led to a death," Tufaro said.

Police contend that Hubbard reached for an officer's gun, an account that eyewitnesses refute.

In another police-related question, O'Malley was asked to explain his "sic semper tyrannus" barb -- Latin translated as "thus always to tyrants" -- that he leveled at former Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier, when he announced his resignation in September. Frazier, long criticized by O'Malley for failing to significantly cut the city murder rate over five years, took a job with the U.S. Department of Justice.

"I was asked how I felt, and I gave an honest answer," O'Malley told the forum's host, news anchorman Stan Stovall. "As long as I continue to give honest answers, I think I'll be OK."

Tufaro again pledged to cut Baltimore's property tax rate -- the highest in the state -- by 40 percent during his term by slashing city spending and allowing private companies to bid on city services.

For his part, O'Malley promised to hold city employees accountable.

"There will be consequences if you don't return calls," O'Malley said. "Like, `You're out of here,' like, `You lose your job,' like, `You're suspended,' like, `You're fired.' "

Both men started the morning in city churches before attending Halloween events. Tufaro greeted city voters yesterday at the zoo's "Zoo Booo!" event. O'Malley, who at one point during the weekend wore a Tufaro Halloween mask, ended his campaigning early yesterday afternoon to trick or treat with his three children.

The two candidates are expected to join former state Sen. Larry Young today at a rush hour "get out the vote" rally held at 4: 30 p.m. at West North Avenue and McCulloh Street.

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