Otis Rolley wants help footing bill for new shoes

(Photo courtesy of Otis Rolley…)
July 27, 2011|By Laura Vozzella

Just what we need: another Baltimore mayor fixated on shoes.

At least Otis Rolley, the former city planning director running for mayor, isn't waving a high heel in a threatening manner. Nor is he asking developers doing business with the city to buy him Jimmy Choos. 

He'd like ordinary citizens to chip in for his footwear, in the form of campaign donations.

"It's a very rare thing for me, but I need new shoes," the candidate writes in an email that includes a photo of some well-worn lace-ups. "I've worn holes in the soles of my last pair because I've been criss-crossing the city, knocking on as many voters' doors as I can.

"These won't be the only shoes I wear down. The election is 50 days away and I intend to go through a lot more pairs before this is over. Help keep me in fresh soles by donating $25, $50, or more to my campaign today."

Spending campaign dough to doll up the candidate can backfire. Just ask Sarah Palin, who spent about $150,000 in Republican National Committee funds on her wardrobe when she ran for vice president in 2008. Or former City Council President Lawrence Bell III, whose 1999 campaign for mayor imploded in part because he'd spent more than $4,000 in campaign funds on suits from New York's Saks Fifth Avenue. 

But Rolley's appeal for shoe money seems mostly intended to make a point about how hard he's campaigning.

"Protecting my feet is the least of my worries," his email continues. "Over the last 10 years, Baltimore has lost 30,000 residents. 90 percent of our schools didn't meet state achievement goals this year. In the last 18 months, the current mayor has imposed or raised 60 new taxes and fees. And, more than 110 people have already been murdered since January 1st. 

"We've knocked on more than 30,000 doors since I started running because I believe we need new leadership."

All well and good, but if Rolley wants to prove he'd put the city on better financial footing, maybe he should get his old shoes resoled instead of springing for a new pair.

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