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Voting in a two-party system City election: Despite Democratic control, citizens have alternatives


IT SEEMS SILLY to have to say this. But because the last time a Republican served in the City Council was more than 50 years ago, many Baltimoreans actually believe that a Democrat cannot vote for a GOP candidate. This, of course, is not true. In the Nov. 7 election, any registered city voter can pull the lever for whomever appears on the ballot, regardless of the candidate's or the voter's own party affiliation.

The election of a Republican to the City Council next month would be quite an upset. Nevertheless we urge Baltimore voters to consider all candidates on their merits and then pull the lever for the person who is best suited for the job. That way the election process becomes more than a rubber stamp.

In this year's election, the GOP has candidates for all the citywide offices. It has one or more council candidates in all of the city's six districts, except for West Baltimore's Fourth. Some of the party's hopefuls may stack up well against their Democratic opponents. But common to all of them is the fact that they are running on such shoestring budgets voters often receive no mailings from them.

This newspaper strongly believes that America's two-party system developed with a purpose. On a nationwide scale, the kind of long exclusive rule by one party that is a reality in Baltimore is an aberration. Indeed most localities with a fully functioning two party system are far better off than cities and counties where elections do not produce any true contest of ideas or performance.

Over the past decade, Baltimore's puny Republican Party has been heroically trying to make itself a relevant player on the local scene. This year, it offers some of the best GOP council candidates in recent memory, men and women who merit consideration for their ideas and eagerness to serve. Its platform should be required reading for city veters.

The election is likely to be another triumph for the city's Democratic candidates. But rather than viewing their civic responsibility of voting as a mere ratification of the September primary results, Baltimore's voters should consider all the alternatives. They would be doing themselves and their city a favor.

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