Much good can be said about incumbent Councilmen Martin E. "Mike" Curran and Wilbur E. "Bill" Cunningham. Both rank among the City Council's hardest working members.
So why does The Sun urge Third District electorate to vote them out Sept. 12?
Simply because Kevin O'Keeffe, Linda Janey and Martin O'Malley are free of the burdens of divisive political quarrels of the past. They can work cooperatively, while we seriously question whether the incumbents can. This is important: alienated and isolated councilmen cannot function effectively on the 18-member council.
In the Sept. 12 primary, the Third District's 13 Democratic candidates and three unopposed Republicans represent the most impressive accumulation of talent anywhere in the city. Yet even in this talented crowd, Messrs. O'Keeffe and O'Malley and Ms. Janey stand out.
In position papers that The Sun asked all the candidates to submit, education was singled out as the No. 1 factor that will determine Baltimore's future viability. Ironically, the City Council in the past has shown little interest in overseeing the school system, even though education receives the lion's share of taxpayers' money.
As a former school board member, Linda Janey, a social worker by training and planner by profession, would give the council much-needed expertise and interest in the many difficult questions facing the school system.
Kevin O'Keeffe left a sought-after judicial clerkship to work as special assistant to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. Mr. O'Keeffe sees a city bureaucracy that is ripe for reform. "The Planning Department, Housing and Community Development and Zoning should be prime candidates for a merger. That would eliminate the existing duplication of services and would respond to the decrease in the city's population," he says.
Martin O'Malley fell just 43 votes short of becoming a state senator last year. Related by marriage to the Curran dynasty, he is competing for a council seat against his wife's uncle. A lawyer by training, he has come up with interesting ideas that could be pushed by legislators in the city and Annapolis. "One step would be a semi-annual property tax; the difference in closing costs alone would be an incentive to first-time buyers," he says.
The Third District is a leader in home ownership and residential property tax base. It is one of the few areas of Baltimore that has stable, integrated communities, quality schools and well-maintained neighborhoods. Its people of various backgrounds exemplify the rich human potential that exists in the city. The Sun believes that Linda Janey, Kevin O'Keeffe and Martin O'Malley best represent the hopes of the Third.