The 18 members of the Baltimore City Council need a strong leader who, if the circumstances require, can step into the shoes of the mayor. For the four major candidates, we recommend Carl Stokes, the two-term East Baltimore councilman.
While other major candidates -- Councilmen Lawrence Bell, Joseph DiBlasi and Vera Hall -- talk about things they would do if elected to the city's No. 2 post, Mr. Stokes can point to a solid record of oversight and achievement. He is also a bridge builder who is the most likely candidate to unify both the often contentious City Council and Baltimore's divergent communities.
The Sun has not always felt this kindly about Mr. Stokes. Yet there can be no denying that in his second term as a councilman, Mr. Stokes has evidenced impressive personal and political growth.
After he took over as the chairman, he led the council's dormant education committee in a searching inquiry into the school system's failures. As Mr. Stokes proved he was serious, he won cooperation and respect from school authorities who were initially contemptuous.
As chairman of the Board of Estimates, the City Council president contributes to the tone and substance of the next administration. Mr. Stokes, we are convinced, would not be subservient. But neither would he be strident in his independence.
The Sun considers Carl Stokes a constructive choice.