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Rawlings declines to run for mayor; Powerful panel chairman will remain in Annapolis


State Del. Howard P. "Pete" Rawlings said yesterday that he will not run for mayor of Baltimore this year, choosing to remain chairman of the influential House Appropriations Committee.

"I do not intend to run for the office of mayor of Baltimore City," Rawlings said in a statement. "I believe that I can best serve the citizens of Baltimore by remaining in the top leadership of the General Assembly."

After Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke announced last month that he would not seek a fourth term, Rawlings began raising concerns about who would fill the job. He has said he believes that the people who have declared their candidacies and those who are considering a run for mayor are "frightening to people."

They include City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III; city Register of Wills Mary W. Conaway; city State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy; city Comptroller Joan M. Pratt; former councilman and school board director Carl Stokes; and community activists A. Robert Kaufman, Phillip Brown and Roberto Marsili.

"The City of Baltimore faces serious challenges to provide its citizens with safe streets, public schools that prepare our children for the 21st century, and economic opportunity," Rawlings said in his statement yesterday. "I will devote my energies, to the extent possible, to providing Baltimoreans with the best options of leaders to choose from on the ballot for mayor in September."

Rawlings and other city and state politicians want NAACP President Kweisi Mfume to join the race. They said they believe that he would make a strong mayor and give the necessary guidance the city needs.

In his public statements, Mfume insists that he will not run for mayor, saying the idea was fostered by the media. But Rawlings and others are hopeful that he will change his mind.

Mfume's main obstacle is that he lives in Baltimore County. Baltimore's charter states that a candidate must live in the city one year before the election.

To overcome that hurdle, Rawlings and Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg are drafting legislation to change the law from a year to six months before the election.

Mfume has been seeking property along Baltimore's waterfront.

Pub Date: 1/14/99

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