In random poll, Baltimore voters say, 'What election?' Some say they don't know who's running in primary, and don't care.


Residents selected randomly throughout Baltimore show little interest in Thursday's city election.

The survey of potential voters was by no means scientific, but people interviewed as they walked, waited for a bus or sat on their porch said they didn't know who was running, didn't care who was running or hadn't made up their minds who they'd vote for -- if they voted at all.

Candidates for mayor, council president, comptroller and all City Council seats are running in Thursday's primary. The general election is Nov. 5.

Voting statistics may reflect this lack of interest. Voter registration for this year's primary is down from the 1987 primary.

In 1987, 392,817 people were registered to vote. This year, 325,044 are registered -- out of approximately 550,000 residents old enough to register.

In 1987, about 46 percent of registered voters actually voted. If that same percentage votes Thursday, that means a mere one in four Baltimore adults will vote for their city leaders.

One who said he plans to vote is Turman Isaac, 70, a retired heavy equipment operator from Canton. He's not sure who he's going to vote for, he said, other than Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr., an incumbent councilman from the 1st District.

Isaac said he called D'Adamo once about a loose manhole cover in O'Donnell Street. D'Adamo had workers out that night, Isaac said.

"He's a guy who gives action, not grins," he said of D'Adamo. "The other guys grin at you, and that's the end of it."

As he pushed his grandson's stroller along O'Donnell Street, Isaac said his message to city officials is: Clean up Canton.

"All we've got down here in Canton are drugs and trash. . . ," he said. "You name it, and it's down here in Canton."

Grover Adkins, 65, a retired security officer for the state, said he votes every election, but wonders whether his vote makes any difference.

"No matter who you elect, they just get in there and feather their own nest," he said from a chair on his porch in the 5600 block of Kavon Ave. off Belair Road in northeastern Baltimore. "I'm talking about Democrats and Republicans both. They sit on their fat hind end and steal the taxpayer blind."

Adkins said he'd made up his mind about only one person running for City Council, a man who had campaigned on his street and shaken his hand. The man promised to support the working man, so Adkins let him put a sign in his front yard.

Adkins couldn't remember the man's name. He motioned toward the sign, which faced the street, and referred to the candidate he planned to vote for as "that man there."

The sign promoted Perry Sfikas for City Council in the 1st District.

"This was the 3rd District, wasn't it?" Adkins said. "They got it all changed around. I can't keep up with it. I don't even know what district I'm in now."

Redistricting moved his neighborhood from the 3rd District into the 1st.

On the west side of town, Ruth Dean, 41, said she hadn't voted in years, and probably wouldn't vote Thursday either. She lives in the 1900 block of N. Longwood St., a block off North Avenue. She said she is temporarily unemployed.

Terry Richardson, 23, a barber at Gary's Barber Shop in the 4800 block of Liberty Heights Ave., said he would vote for Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, but not for any councilmanic candidates.

"I'm not much interested in any of them," he said. "They pretty much do what they want to when they get in anyway."

Barbara Smith, 27, a typist at the Social Security Administration, answered questions as she waited for a bus at Park Heights Avenue and Northern Parkway. She said she never voted; she doesn't get into politics.

"I don't know who all's running," she said. "I just know Kurt Schmoke. Ain't Du Burns running?"

Election Sept. 12

Primary Election Day for Baltimore is Sept. 12. Tuesday is the traditional day for elections in Maryland, but the date for the city primary was changed this year because of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year celebration. Polls will open Thursday at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. If voters have any questions, they can call the Baltimore City Board of Election Supervisors at 396-5570.

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