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Longtime activist files paperwork to run for mayor


William E. Roberts, 72, a former insurance salesman and cabdriver, and a perennial candidate, has quietly joined the Baltimore mayor's race.

He is among the first candidates to officially file paperwork to run for the office.

Roberts filed as a candidate in late December without fanfare. He said he didn't publicize his candidacy because he didn't want to get caught up in the political posturing that he said is diverting attention from the issues.

"I was trying to be as quiet as possible so I wouldn't be tagged as a perennial candidate, a candidate muddying up the waters," he said.

A community activist, soft-spoken but determined, Roberts has waged a longtime fight to keep drug dealers off street corners near his home in West Baltimore's Mondawmin neighborhood. He last ran for mayor in 1991, when he won 5.5 percent of the vote.

Though he has entered a variety of political races during the past 30 years -- including campaigns for the City Council, mayor, governor and General Assembly -- he has never won a public office.

Roberts said he will push for a zero-tolerance crime-fighting strategy, increasing job opportunities instead of building jails and helping drug addicts break their addictions.

"I march to a different drummer," Roberts said. "I'm interested in helping. I've got solutions."

Pub Date: 2/10/99

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