Promising to increase school funding by $25 million in his first budget, Baltimore mayoral candidate Carl Stokes kicked off his campaign yesterday morning in front of City Hall surrounded by about 30 people.
"I believe very strongly that this city must strengthen its commitment to the education of our young people," said Stokes, a former city councilman and city school board director. "We've got a lot of old money in City Hall that we're just going to reprioritize and give to the city of Baltimore."
At Mondawmin Mall, mayoral hopeful A. Robert Kaufman said during the official announcement of his candidacy -- about an hour before Stokes -- that he would seek to legalize such drugs as marijuana and heroin to curb violent crime, if he is elected. Kaufman, 67, also wants to lower car insurance rates for city residents -- a battle he has been waging for years.
Kaufman said that with his controversial platform, he probably won't become mayor. "I don't expect to be elected," Kaufman said. "If I do, great."
Stokes and Kaufman are two of the three candidates who have publicly declared their candidacies for mayor. Their announcements come after Mary W. Conaway, the city register of wills, said Friday that she will seek the mayor's job in 1999.
The primary is 10 months away. But in the days since Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke announced he would not seek another term, a half-dozen people have said they are considering running for mayor -- in addition to the three who have declared their candidacies.
Stokes said he wanted to get his name in the race early given the expanding field of candidates. Standing with a group of his supporters and campaign signs, Stokes told an audience of mostly reporters that his chief concerns are education, community development and crime. "My grandmother can't sit in front of her own front window without fear of a bullet."
He said he believes that more productive activities for the city's youth will help curb some criminal activity and increased involvement by city agencies in the maintenance and upkeep of city buildings and facilities will help improve the quality of life in Baltimore.
A city resident quickly served up a taste of the difficult issues Stokes and other candidates are likely to face in pursuit of the mayor's office.
Alfreda Tate, 40, told Stokes at his announcement that she has found it difficult to afford a home in the city.
"I work and I cannot get low-income housing," said Tate, a mother of two who rents her home. "We work and we put into [the city]. I'll wait to see what you're going to do first, then I'll cast my vote."
Pub Date: 12/09/98