Shoo-Ins in City Courthouse Races


Registered Democrats maintain such an overwhelming edge over Republican voters in Baltimore City that primary elections nearly always determine the winners.

Nothing underscores this imbalance in the two-party system more than the city courthouse races: In all but one case, Democratic incumbents do not even have Republican opposition next month's general election. The situation was nearly the same in last month's primary.

Then, State's Attorney Stuart Simms and Circuit Court Clerk Saundra E. Banks were without any challengers -- Republicans or Democrats. Regardless of how many people vote for them, their re-election will be a foregone conclusion.

(The same goes for the sitting judges of the Circuit Court -- Joseph H.H. Kaplan, Carol E. Smith and Martin P. Welch, whose names appeared on both party's ballots without opposition. But in this case, that is a plus. We do not feel circuit court judges should be subjected to the political wheeling and dealing of the electoral process.)

Baltimore's incumbent sheriff, John W. Anderson, also has no Republican challenger. Mr. Anderson has been doing a good job since his appointment in 1989. We urge him to stick to his department's court-related functions and let the police handle law enforcement. Mary Conaway, the incumbent Register of Wills, is likewise unopposed.

The lone Republican candidate trying to stop the Democratic juggernaut on the Nov. 8 ballot for courthouse offices is William Kolodner. He wants to unseat one of the incumbent judges of the Orphans' Court. The University of Baltimore law graduate has varied experience, having worked in both the offices of city state's attorney and Maryland's attorney general.

The Orphans' Court has gone through some rocky times recently. A mighty backlog of cases developed earlier this year, when the three-person bench was effectively down to one judge with one ill and one vacancy. Those problems were resolved in April, however, and the court is now working hard to eliminate the backlog.

Thus, there is every reason to support the Orphans' Court judges. They have handled their tasks quite well. Joyce M. Baylor-Thompson, Howard I. Golden and Michael Waring Lee know the process of handling estates, contested wills, suits against deceased parties and guardianship issues. We recommend that voters re-elect them.

Monday: Baltimore County bond issues.

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