Baltimore City endorsements [Editorial]

June 16, 2014

The Sun makes endorsements for the following races in Baltimore City:

District 41

In District 41 in the Northwest reaches of the city, incumbents Samuel "Sandy" Rosenberg, Jill Carter and Nathaniel Oaks, all House veterans, have performed well as a team despite their diverse backgrounds, and they merit reelection. The delegates were critical in the effort to secure $1.1 billion in school construction funds as well as financing for the $2.6 billion Red Line light rail project while protecting homeowners living near the proposed right-of-way from losing their property through eminent domain.

The standout performer in the group remains Mr. Rosenberg, 64, who is seeking his ninth term in the House, and who served as floor leader in the successful repeal of Maryland's death penalty. But kudos also to Delegate Carter, once seen as a thin-skinned outsider in the State House, who has in recent years demonstrated a far better grasp of her role with a focus on juvenile justice, police training and transparency in government.

District 43

In the 43rd District, which includes large swaths of north Baltimore, veteran incumbent Sen. Joan Carter Conway faces off against two-term City Councilman Bill Henry. Mr. Henry, who presents himself as a reformer, has criticized his opponent for frequent absences at neighborhood meetings and for being too cozy with special interests, especially the liquor industry. Ms. Conway's husband, Vernon "Tim" Conway, works as an inspector for the liquor board, and her campaign treasurer, Harvey Jones, is a commissioner.

For her part, Ms. Conway points to a long list of legislative accomplishments as chair of the Senate's powerful Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, and she has been a feisty defender of measures that benefit all Marylanders, including laws supporting education and senior housing, securing $1.1 billion in construction funding for Baltimore schools and providing a key vote to legalize same-sex marriage.

She argues that Baltimore would suffer a major loss of political clout in Annapolis if a newcomer replaced her, and we tend to agree. Moreover, she eventually did get on board with reforms to Baltimore's troubled liquor board. We think that overall the interests of 43rd District residents and the city as a whole are best served by keeping this influential lawmaker in place, so our endorsement goes to Joan Carter Conway.

In the House of Delegates race we recommend returning all three district incumbents to office; Curt Anderson, Maggie McIntosh and Mary Washington get our nod.

District 44A

This West Baltimore district is the only one in the state in which three incumbents are fighting for a single seat. One of them stands far above the others: Del. Keiffer Mitchell, who has emerged as an effective leader in the State House and a worthy heir to his family's legacy. He was a key voice on some of the issues most important to his district, including gun control, the repeal of the death penalty, expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and school construction funding. Most impressive was his role in resurrecting legislation this year to eliminate criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, an offense for which African Americans have been arrested in vastly higher numbers than whites, despite equivalent rates of use. After a committee had gutted the legislation, he led the charge to reinstate the bill. Simply put, without him, it probably would not have happened. He has our endorsement.

District 45

In the city's 45th District, which encompasses a diverse collection of neighborhoods from some of the poorest blocks in East Baltimore to more stable neighborhoods to the north, five-term state Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden faces a spirited Democratic primary challenge from longtime political consultant Julius Henson.

Mr. Henson is running despite a conviction for conspiracy to violate elections laws in connection with an Election Day robocall in 2010 aimed at preventing African-American voters from casting ballots. Ironically, his deception targeted the very people Mr. Henson would be representing if elected. The dishonesty evinced by his tawdry conduct in that affair disqualifies him from serious consideration, in our view.

Mr. Henson has waged a relentlessly negative campaign of smears and character assassination against his opponent, but voters should not be fooled by such tactics. Senator McFadden is the better candidate by far to represent the district.

A competitive contest is shaping up among eight Democrats vying for the district's three seats in the House of Delegates, including an open seat created by the death last year of veteran lawmaker Hattie Harrison.

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