John L. Cain, a 12-year veteran of the Baltimore City Council, announced yesterday that he would not seek a fourth term and that he was stepping down in part because he has become exhausted serving the 1st District in East Baltimore.
"There is a burnout factor if somebody puts a lot into whatever they do, and that's how it's been with me," said Cain, 63, a former editor of the East Baltimore Guide and a Canton resident. "I just felt like it was time to go. I'm ready for some new challenges."
Cain's decision not to run in the September Democratic primary creates a wide-open race for his seat, even though he will serve through the November 2004 general election.
At least three people -- Baltimore County Assistant State's Attorney Art McGreevy, community activist Angelo Solera and attorney James B. Kraft -- have announced they plan to run for the district seat, and more might step forward now that the incumbent is no longer running, according to observers of city politics.
"I have enjoyed serving with John Cain," said Mayor Martin O'Malley, who was on the council with Cain for eight years. "We haven't agreed on every issue, but I will miss him. He has a wonderful personality and he did the job with a lot of passion and commitment."
Cain, who will be 65 when his term runs out, said he's "looking for creative things to do -- like getting back to writing or other things that I don't want to mention because I don't want to jinx them."
Cain, who took office in 1991, said he's most proud of his work on the Baltimore Commission for Architectural and Historic Preservation and the Parking Authority of Baltimore City. He said he feels sad that many of the initiatives he has worked hard on will not be finished before he leaves office, such as the Enoch Pratt Free Library regional branch in Highlandtown, the economic redevelopment of the Highlandtown shopping area and the return to public use of the Recreation Pier in Fells Point.
"A few individuals have already filed to run for my seat, and I hope others will pick up the challenge," said Cain. "My advice to voters in the 1st District is to scrutinize these candidates with a critical eye. Wanting to run and winning does not necessarily mean they make good and honest officeholders. I wish all of the candidates well."