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Mayor before, but not again; Schaefer won't run, will support former police commissioner; His mind on current job


Despite a poll released last week showing strong support for a mayoral comeback bid, state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer said yesterday that he does not intend to run for mayor and will support his former police commissioner, Bishop L. Robinson.

Speaking at the downtown Baltimore offices of Preservation Maryland, Schaefer said he is focusing on the state comptroller job he was elected to in November and is not considering a return to the City Hall office he occupied for 16 years from 1971 to 1987.

"I was very flattered," said Schaefer, 78, who polled ahead of City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III in a survey of 411 city voters taken by Gonzales/Arscott Communications Inc. of Annapolis. "But I haven't given [running for mayor] much thought, I'm keeping my mind on my comptroller's job."

What Schaefer has given much thought to, he said, was who he believes to be the best candidate for the job.

"Bishop Robinson," he said. "I think he has the maturity and the confidence of the people."

Robinson, the 72-year-old West Baltimore native who served as the state public safety director when Schaefer was governor, is expected to decide whether to run by the end of the week. Last week, Robinson said he will likely run if he can obtain the financial and campaign support needed.

Candidates hoping to be Baltimore's 47th mayor contend that winning the race will require raising $1 million to get their name and message out in Baltimore's first mayoral race without an incumbent in 28 years.

Declared candidates for the Sept. 14 Democratic primary include Bell, Register of Wills Mary W. Conaway, former City Councilman and school board member Carl F. Stokes and community activists William E. Roberts Sr., Phillip A. Brown Jr. and A. Robert Kaufman, founder of the City Wide Coalition, a group pushing for the city to start an insurance cooperative.

Poll respondents gave Schaefer 32 percent support to Bell's 23 percent if the race were held today. The Gonzales/Arscott poll also showed that one in four voters was unfamiliar with Robinson and that 40 percent had no opinion of him.

Schaefer said yesterday that he will mobilize his supporters to back Robinson.

"The one thing he is very strong in is solving the problem of crime, and that is the No. 1 problem," Schaefer said.

Schaefer sounded very much like a mayoral candidate yesterday at the National Trust for Historic Preservation announcement placing the city's west-side renewal project on its most endangered list. The $350 million plan to revitalize the downtown area includes condemning more than 100 properties.

Although supporting the redevelopment of the west side, Schaefer said the city and state should attempt to preserve as much of the property as possible.

"We've become a bulldozer city," Schaefer said.

Pub Date: 6/15/99

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