Conaway latest candidate for city comptroller


City Register of Wills Mary W. Conaway is the latest candidate to enter the city comptroller's race.

Conaway, 48, announced her candidacy Sunday during a birthday fund-raiser in her honor. About 400 people turned out for the $25-a-ticket event.

"I'm running because I think I am electable, and I've done it before," said Conaway, who finished third in the race for comptroller in the 1987 Democratic primary. "I certainly think I'm qualified for the job."

Conaway is joining what is expected to be a crowded field. Council members Jacqueline F. McLean, D-2nd, and Joseph T. "Jody" Landers, D-3rd, already are in the running. Councilman Carl Stokes, D-2nd; Del. John W. Douglass, D-City; and Sen. George W. Della Jr., D-City, have expressed strong interest in the $53,000-a-year job.

The register of wills, a citywide elective post, handles the disposition of wills and serves as clerk to the city's Orphan's Court. Conaway said that, in her more than eight years in the job, the office has collected $51 million in fees and inheritance taxes. The office employs 56 people.

"I think that speaks to my experience as a manager and administrator," she said.

The comptroller sits on the Board of Estimates, which approves city contracts. Some of the comptroller's other duties include auditing the city's finances, acquiring and managing real estate and monitoring the city insurance coverage.

The post is expected to be vacated next year by Hyman A. Pressman, 76, who plans to retire in the face of deteriorating health after this, his seventh term in office.

Conaway said she would use the comptroller's post to lobby for the poor and to push for limitations on the mayor's control over the Board of Estimates.

The five-member board includes the mayor and two of his appointees: the public works director and the city solicitor. Conaway favors a City Charter amendment to remove the two mayoral appointees.

"I think that is too much power for the mayor," she said. "No one person should be able to control the board."

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