A mixed bag

September 11, 2002

AS MUCH AS WE ARE trying, it's pretty hard to find a silver lining for Baltimore City in yesterday's startling primary upsets.

With the city already losing two Senate and six House of Delegates seats as a result of redistricting, Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, the chair of the important Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, appears to have lost to first-term Del. Lisa A. Gladden.

That would be a bitter loss of influence that not even the well-deserved trouncing of Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell IV by Del. Verna L. Jones can repair. With Annapolis operating on a seniority basis, the city will be largely relegated into a rookie status in the Senate.

In the 43rd District, discriminating voters nominated delegates that will at least ensure continuity. House Majority Leader Maggie McIntosh overcame the uncertainties of redistricting and led the field. The other apparent winners were Del. Ann Marie Doory and former Del. Curt Anderson.

The winds of change that secured Ms. Gladden's victory in the 41st also blew in Jill P. Carter, a lawyer and daughter of the late civil rights leader Walter P. Carter. Despite some early rough going, veteran Del. Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg also won a nomination. And he will give the delegation much-needed credibility.

In the 44th, lawyer Keith E. Haynes apparently defeated another newcomer, Jennifer L. Coates, providing fresh blood to a delegation of incumbents.

In the 45th, veteran Del. Hattie N. Harrison survived a machine attempt to oust her.

In the 46th, three proven incumbents, Peter A. Hammen, Carolyn Krysiak and Brian K. McHale, won renomination.

Overall, then, yesterday's primary was a mixed bag.

In the long run, the nomination of many young, fresh leaders may well be good. In the short term, though, the city's loss of influence is alarming.

With her re-election as state's attorney, Patricia C. Jessamy should now realize her office needs a thorough transformation. During the campaign, she seemed to indicate all was well. She even gave herself an "A" for her performance during her 7 1/2 years.

If she has the courage to face the facts - and the reality of the unexpectedly spirited challenge by Councilwoman Lisa Stancil - Ms. Jessamy could surprise us all. The prosecutor's office needs an overhaul. That would also be perhaps the easiest way for her to regain the confidence of the judges, the mayor and the various law enforcement agencies.

Ms. Jessamy would be wise to read the primary's lackluster turnout as a call to reform.

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