The Sun makes endorsements for the following races in Baltimore City:
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.
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.
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.
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.
As majority whip, incumbent Del. Talmadge Branch occupies one of the chamber's top leadership posts, at least in part because of his affable personality and ability to work with colleagues to get things done. He also has been diligent in responding to constituent concerns; he gets our nod for another term.
Incumbent Cheryl D. Glenn, who was first elected to the House in 2006, also has shown leadership potential as a deputy majority whip, vice chair of the Legislative Black Caucus and member of the Economic Matters Committee. We endorse her bid for a third term.
The district's remaining seat had been held by Nina R. Harper, who was appointed to the post after Ms. Harrison's death but who is stepping down when her term ends.
To replace her, voters have a choice among Robert Stokes, a constituent services worker for City Councilman Carl Stokes (who is not related to the candidate); former Air Force member Marques Dent; union organizer Cory McCray; educator Kevin Parson; congressional aide Harry Spikes; and activist Aaron Keith Wiles.
We think Mr. Spikes, a Morgan graduate who holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of Baltimore and who has spent the last nine years as special assistant to Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings on housing, public health and public safety issues, is best positioned by experience to hit the ground running in Annapolis as a forceful advocate for District 45 residents.
In the 46th District, which covers South Baltimore and parts of downtown, state Sen. William C. Ferguson IV faces a challenge from political neophyte Mateen Rasul Zar. Mr. Ferguson has supported efforts to make college more affordable for all students, including the children of undocumented immigrants, as well as measures to protect the Chesapeake Bay, limit suburban sprawl, develop renewable energy sources and repeal the death penalty.
He's also been a strong proponent of increasing the minimum wage, toughening the state's gun laws and reforming campaign finance laws. On all these issues he has shown himself to be a forward-looking legislator, and we warmly endorse his bid for re-election.
In the state's attorney's race, two Democrats are vying for primary votes: 58-year-old incumbent Gregg Bernstein, who unseated Patricia Jessamy four years ago by a narrow 1,200 vote margin, and challenger Marilyn Mosby, 34, a former city prosecutor and the wife of City Councilman Nick Mosby.
In his 3-1/2 years in office, Mr. Bernstein has brought a lot of change to the office Ms. Jessamy oversaw for 15 years. He secured funds for new facilities, repaired relations with the police department, reorganized under a community prosecution model and launched several initiatives — including a Major Investigations Unit that has won convictions against more than 200 violent repeat offenders. Mr. Bernstein has also met three quarters of the best practices recommendations made by a Greater Baltimore Committee-led group when he entered office, and he has raised conviction rates, as he promised to do, in several key areas, including rapes/sexual assaults and homicides.
He has a way to go in terms of transparency, however. Too many victims have complained that they weren't notified of major decisions in their tormentors' cases. And the performance data available on the state's attorney's website is missing some critical components; conviction rates for example, don't say whether the "guilty" came from a trial or plea deal, much less whether the defendant was found guilty as charged or of something lesser.
Ms. Mosby is campaigning on a promise to do better than Mr. Bernstein when it comes to clearing the streets of violent repeat offenders; she is rightly making much of an embarrassing inability of the state's attorney's office to secure a conviction against Clifford Bernard Nelson, who was tried and acquitted on sexual assault charges four times. She is passionate about reducing violent crime and promises to do more to protect witnesses and to lobby for legislation that would make Baltimore safer. She is also a proponent of community partnerships and diversionary programs, along the lines of Ms. Jessamy, who contributed to Ms. Mosby's campaign. But she has little relevant management experience and a long list of initiatives that would take time to implement before rewards could be reaped.
Mr. Bernstein has already laid that foundation, and it is beginning to show returns. His efforts deserve another four years to play out. He has our endorsement.
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Correction: An earlier version of this editorial misidentified one of the incumbent delegates in the 43rd District. Her name is Mary Washington. The Sun regrets the error.