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Baltimore endorsements [Editorial]

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

District 40

Three incumbents are running for re-election in this district, which covers a large swath of Midtown and West Baltimore, but they have drawn an unusually large number of challengers, and not without good reason. Del. Shawn Tarrant has served the district well. He brings expertise on matters of health care and has also done a great service by seeking to limit minors' access to so-called "little cigars" and focusing on the scourge of dirt bike riding in his part of Baltimore. He has our endorsement.

But the other two incumbents, Dels. Barbara Robinson and Frank M. Conaway Jr., do not. Delegate Robinson has had a generally lackluster legislative career and has focused largely on pursuing bills that relate to the non-profit she once ran that is now run by her family. To call Mr. Conaway's legislative career lackluster would be generous. He has been singularly ineffective in his two terms, which he likely never would have won without his recognizable last name.

Fortunately, the voters of District 40 have better options. Antonio Hayes, who narrowly missed winning a seat in the district eight years ago, brings years of experience as a legislative staffer in Annapolis and City Hall. Most recently, he has served as chief of staff to the Baltimore Department of Social Services, where he worked successfully to reduce the number of children in foster care or group homes awaiting permanent placements. In office, he would focus on housing policy with a goal of aligning tax incentives to spur more investment in neighborhoods that need help rather than along the waterfront. He has our endorsement, as does Robert LaPin, a military veteran and former teacher. He is perhaps the most progressive candidate running in the city this year and has been particularly active in the fight over the proposed CSX transfer station in Southwest Baltimore.

District 41

We heartily endorse Sen. Lisa Gladden for re-election. She has been influential in issues including marriage equality, gun control, the end of capital punishment and reform of Maryland's unjust ground rent laws. Her goals for the next four years, including speeding up the transition to Maryland's higher minimum wage and seeking solutions to the crumbling infrastructure in the region's aging communities, are of particular importance to her district and the city. She is by far the better choice over community activist Will Hanna, who is facing extradition to Texas over charges that he stole a car and wrote $19,000 in bad checks there.

District 46

This district, which encircles Baltimore's waterfront, has long been lucky to have the services of Del. Peter Hammen, the thoughtful, soft-spoken chairman of the House Health and Government Operations Committee. Delegate Hammen has earned a reputation for being accessible and attuned to his constituents, even as he has risen to prominence in Annapolis as an expert on health policy. His experience and knowledge on the issue are needed more than ever as Maryland seeks to recover from its disastrous health insurance exchange rollout. He has our endorsement for re-election.

So does Del. Luke Clippinger, a newcomer four years ago who quickly made a mark in Annapolis. His was among the most influential voices in the drive for marriage equality in the House, but he has also had success in workforce development issues and most recently in increasing penalties for those who cause fatal accidents while distracted by a cellphone or other device and in making it easier for victims of domestic violence to get protective orders. A Baltimore native, he grew up in a dollar-home in Reservoir Hill and now works as an assistant state's attorney.

The retirement of Del. Brian McHale leaves an open seat in the district, and voters have excellent candidates to choose from. Two deserve special notice: Bill Romani, who runs a non-profit that puts seniors in classrooms to teach reading and has experience in health care and community organizing, and Brooke Lierman, a civil rights attorney and community activist. It's a close call, but we endorse Ms. Lierman on the strength of her successful pro bono work with South Baltimore communities to fight the licensure or expansion of trouble-prone bars and taverns. That shows dedication, an understanding of the community she seeks to serve and the kind of moxie we could use in Annapolis.

To respond to this editorial, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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