Mary Pat Clarke stopped by a barbershop in West Baltimore yesterday, but she wasn't there to get her bangs trimmed. Instead, she was talking tough about finding ways to get people back to work.
Mrs. Clarke, the City Council president is challenging Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's bid for a third term. Yesterday she renewed her sharp criticisms over the past month of his record on economic development.
In the more than seven years Mr. Schmoke has been mayor, the city has lost more than 60,000 jobs, she said, a rate of "one job every hour." In 1991, the city lost 6.3 percent of its job base, more than Philadelphia or Washington, and it has lagged surrounding counties in recovering after the recession, she said.
"We have to rebuild and get every part of the community involved," Mrs. Clarke told customers getting their hair cut at Waymon LeFall's barbershop in the 2000 block of Edmondson Ave.
Mrs. Clarke blamed the Schmoke administration for abolishing the Small Business Advisory Committee and spending too little in federal block grants on job creation.
If elected mayor, she said, she would set up a new development agency to replace the often criticized Baltimore Development BTC Corp., offer more tax incentives for businesses and institute a one-stop program for city permits and licenses.
Mr. Schmoke shrugged off her criticism and said he is retaining and attracting businesses through a variety of approaches. He also pointed to achievements, including the city's success in winning a $100 million federal empowerment zone grant that is generating jobs.
"The loss of jobs did not start with my administration, but we are trying very hard to do something about it, which is more than I believe anyone can say about President Clarke," Mr. Schmoke retorted yesterday.
With the council in recess for the next three months, Mrs. Clarke is putting her campaign into high gear. She intends to celebrate her 54th birthday today by officially filing her campaign for mayor with the city elections board.
Mr. Schmoke is formally launching his re-election campaign by filing for office next week.