The Sun continues its endorsements for the Sept. 9 Baltimore primary election with races in City Council northeast districts 2, 3 and 4.
THE NEW District 2 encompasses parts of Highlandtown, Greektown, Frankford, Hamilton, Gardenville, Waltherson and the Eastern Avenue corridor, traditionally a stable section of the city. Nevertheless, voters here feel that crime is creeping up and vacant industrial tracts are being ignored, and they worry about grime and occasional flooding.
In the Democratic race, The Sun endorses current Councilwoman Lois Garey, who has gone to bat for a range of constituents in the former District 1, from those who want Herring Run protected to those who want police to crack down on public urination.
As chairwoman of the council's Land Use and Planning Committee, she is leading the unglamorous but much-needed process of updating city zoning codes. And she has kept watch on developments that don't benefit the city, criticizing, for example, the city's giving hotel developers tax breaks. Her previous job, heading Northeast Baltimore's community umbrella group HARBEL, has stood her in good stead when negotiating among business associations, churches, PTAs, hospitals and community groups.
Fellow Councilman Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr. also has a long, strong civic record. But as chairman of the council's budget committee, Mr. D'Adamo has had a big hand in rubber-stamping years of city and school budgets that didn't always reflect the needs of the city or his constituents.
Founder of the City Union of Baltimore, Cheryl D. Glenn also has strong positions on crime and schools, and solid accomplishments at the neighborhood level. But she lacks the big-picture knowledge of Ms. Garey, and in a one-member district such breadth is critical.
Also running are 1999 mayoral candidate Phillip A. Brown Jr., bartender and charity organizer David A. Lessner, Johns Hopkins doctor Austin O. Oparanma and Gardenville activist Florentina Pantalunan.
Will Bauer, running unopposed in the Republican primary, seeks to bring more people back to the district by adding police patrols to beef up safety and quality-of-life enforcement.
IN THE CITY'S northeast corner, school quality and a nagging sense of community decline are top issues. Harford Road, the spine of the district, and the Northwood Shopping Center need attention, as well as pockets of vacant housing and a proliferation of cases of predatory lending.
In the Democratic primary, Third District Councilman Robert W. Curran gets the nod for his strong leadership on land-use and zoning issues, including approvals for a grocery store in Waverly and the planned Stadium Place retirement community, which will add to the city's tax coffers. His work to also bring the YMCA to the former Memorial Stadium lot will benefit area youths.
Mr. Curran fought to have funding for repairs for Leith Walk Elementary included in the recent $30 million school bond, and mediated between the school system and the community on where to site a Northern High satellite school.
Northwood activist Beatrice M. Brown and city PTA chief Michael L. Hamilton have solid volunteer experience and ideas for kids and schools, but lack the economic and development know-how of Mr. Curran. James Butler, a lawyer in the office of the state attorney general, has held elective offices in community and professional groups, including the Monumental City Bar Association. But his economic plan for the city, which includes reducing property taxes while adding money for neighborhoods, doesn't balance.
In the Republican primary, The Sun chooses financial adviser Lorraine B. Pontillo. Though she's been a Baltimore resident for just two years, she has good ideas for how the city could run itself more efficiently and profitably. Her opponent, city recreation and parks board member Carlos M. Torres, is focused on state issues, such as adopting fixed sentences for gun crimes and tax incentives for business.
IN NORTHERN neighborhoods such as Govans, Guilford and Homeland, key issues include business turnover along the York Road corridor and in the revived Belvedere Square, and a lack of jobs in the neighborhoods. Voters would do well to back current Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr. Mr. Harris deserves kudos for shepherding into being the city's new truancy center -- an idea that arose from a stakeholders summit that he organized last year. He has mediated among community members, developers and the city to keep on track such projects as the Loch Raven shopping center and the redevelopment of Belvedere Square.
Constituents wish he would attend more neighborhood group meetings, and introduce more legislation rather than riding on others', but he has attracted businesses and City Hall's attention to his district.