The Sun continues its endorsements for the Sept. 9 Baltimore primary election with races in east-side City Council districts 1, 12 and 13.
ONE OF THE economic engines of Baltimore City, this district includes Butchers Hill, Canton, Fells Point, Highlandtown, Little Italy and Patterson Park. Development and quality-of-life issues are the hot topics across a constituency that is roughly half white, 25 percent black and 20 percent Hispanic.
Longtime activist Angelo Solera gets the nod in the Democratic primary because he has proved he can effectively navigate the city's bureaucracies through his work as a community liaison for Baltimore HealthCare Access and for the city's Health Department, and his service on former Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's committee for Hispanic affairs.
He has worked as a unionized industrial painter, been vice president of the Baltimore Hispanic Business Group, been a health and cultural competency teacher and chaired a citywide educational advocacy committee.
Family law attorney James B. Kraft and Assistant State's Attorney Art McGreevy know crime-and-grime issues, while Baltimore County investment manager Barry Glassman has budget-crunching chops and Benjamin A. Neil solid zoning board experience, but Mr. Solera is the most well-rounded. Nicholle O'Malley's work organizing citywide cleanups and helping obtain grants to fix parks and Baltimore Bob Murray's stints in the Army and teaching city kids are appreciated, but they're not enough to stand out in this crowd.
In the Republican primary, The Sun endorses computer entrepreneur Brandon S. Katz, who says he will fight for neighborhood groups to have greater access to abandoned housing for rehabilitation, and for angled parking on residential streets and dog parks. His opponent, Roberto L. Marsili, advocates harsher sentences for white-collar crime and the end of the era of professional politicians.
THE NEEDS are great, and the anger simmers, in much of District 12. This chunk of East Baltimore stretches from Charles Village south to Jonestown, and from Charles North and Midtown/Belvedere east to South Clifton Park and Broadway East. It's a patchwork, including housing projects, forgotten alleys and boarded-up houses, a snip of historic Mount Vernon and much of the cautiously reviving Charles Village. There are a handful of bank branches, several addiction treatment centers and all the city's six correctional institutions.
This district needs an advocate, a fighter, not a wallflower -- or a go-along council member. Democratic voters would do well to back activist and financial analyst Ertha Harris, who knows the problems firsthand -- she lives on the same block where the slain Dawson family lived. She would bring to the council community service experience, having chaired the local organizing committee for the Million Man March and its follow-ups, and has helped families get loans and buy vacant homes in the area.
Current Councilman Bernard C. "Jack" Young has the political polish, and earns kudos from constituents on the little things -- returning calls and attending community meetings -- but the big things -- housing, jobs, security -- have continued to go downhill on his watch. Fellow council member Pamela V. Carter, appointed in 2001, hasn't done much more than get her feet wet.
Charles Village residents Annie Chambers, Leon Cliff Purnell and Frank William Richardson speak well -- and powerfully -- of the needs of their neighbors districtwide, but lack the experience for the job.
Republican cleanup entrepreneur Dale Warren Hargrave is running unopposed.
POCKETS OF WEALTH, poverty and promise: Belair-Edison, Berea, Orangeville and Cliftmont are holding their own, while Ashland and Middle East are hurting. Many hope the coming biotech park on the district's western border will fulfill its promise of upgraded housing stock and much-needed jobs for residents, but some fear displacement. There also are warning signs along the Belair Avenue corridor, including closed shops and a feeling of growing crime.
The Sun endorses Democrat Mel Freeman, who has worked in business and for nonprofit groups and has a deep history of community service, including the mayor's bicycle advisory committee, the board of the Herring Run Watershed Association and leadership roles for the Belair-Edison Community Association. He has helped forge partnerships between schools and businesses, and worked to get vacant housing back on the market -- and on the tax rolls.
Current Councilwoman Paula Johnson Branch has done well to help move the East Baltimore Biotech Project along, but she has missed opportunities to connect with worried constituents and to ease long-strained relations between Johns Hopkins and the project's neighbors.
Challenger Emmett Guyton knows the issues facing troubled kids and their parents from his hands-on work with the Rose Street Community Center; school administrator Kevin Parson has credibility on education issues. Neither has quite as much experience bringing the district's neighborhoods together as would be preferred. Constance Maddox isn't getting her message out.
Running unopposed in the Republican primary is Joe DiMatteo.
The Sun's endorsements continue with a look at City Council races in northeast districts 2, 3 and 4.