Democratic candidates for mayor offer solutions for city


THESE are edited excerpts of responses by some Democratic candidates for mayor of Baltimore to a Sun questionnaire. Additional Democratic responses will run through Thursday. Republican responses will be published on Friday.

Lawrence A. Bell III

On mayoral style: I would operate with an inclusive and collaborative style. I have admired and learned from many leaders in our nation, including Mayor Ed Rendell of Philadelphia, who had to make tough decisions and cut costs; Mayor Bill Campbell of Atlanta, who enhanced economic development for African-Americans and set his city apart as a technology leader, and San Francisco's Mayor Willie Brown, who is known for his promotional abilities, to name a few.

I see myself as primarily a salesperson for the city, as the chief person responsible for instilling civic pride.

On privatization: I do not believe that privatization is the panacea for all fiscal challenges.

On criticism in Annapolis of Baltimore's use of state money: Baltimore clearly has room to work at being more efficient. I have proposed citywide audits of our agencies to pinpoint where we need improvement and to uncover problems. The state has a right to expect high-quality performance on funds that are designated for our use and like any other investor, would expect the proper return on investment.

On regional cooperation: I have begun to forge collaborative relationships with the surrounding counties and their leadership. I have held discussions and even convened a joint city/county council meeting for the purpose of identifying common goals and objectives. Problems know no boundaries.

Mary W. Conaway

On mayoral style: There is no specific style of being a mayor, other than being a leader, manager and an administrator who leads by example, is accessible, accountable, competent, compassionate, honest, energetic, works well with people, a moral builder, a hard worker who knows how to delegate responsibility, yet stays on top of everything.

On role models: After much collaboration, Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco, who says, "You must be able to prioritize and learn to say 'no,' " and Mayor Ed Rendell of Philadelphia, who says "the city's first principle must be to live within its means, maintaining the balanced budgets that are prerequisite to the stability and credibility of municipal government."

The mayor must be able to manage people and delegate responsibilities necessary to make the work force run smoothly. As a salesperson, the mayor must sell the city through tourism, conventions and sports events. The mayor must be able to entice and encourage big businesses and developers to come to our city to promote economic development and jobs.

On privatization: The city has lost enough by giving away the school system, the city jails and the city colleges. It is time for the city to take control of its own services. Privatization deprives the people who live in the city of having jobs and we are in the business of creating jobs for the unemployed and underemployed.

On criticism in Annapolis of Baltimore's use of state money: We have so many problems in Baltimore, Annapolis critics couldn't begin to identify. As the next mayor, when I go to the General Assembly, I will have a plan in hand, statistics to back it up and a budget. Upon completion of the project, every dollar will all be accounted for, and there will be visible evidence of change and growth.

On regional cooperation and a commuter tax: I don't advocate a commuter tax.

A. Robert Kaufman

On mayoral style and role model: Eugene Victor Debs. I would be a social activist with the power of a mayor of Baltimore.

On criticism in Annapolis of Baltimore's use of state money: The criticism is on the mark. I would severely limit competition and inefficiencies. No special favors to those who would corrupt the democratic process with campaign contributions, other bribes or nepotism.

On regional cooperation, tax-base sharing, commuter tax: I'm pioneering a progressive commuter tax for those with annual incomes of more than $35,000.

Gene Lamar Michaels

On mayoral style: I am trained in the skills of leadership with hands-on experience. I will stand with those I lead and walk the walk I expect of them. I take the blame for anything that goes wrong. I give credit to the people in place for all our successes. William Donald Schaefer's "Do It Now" theme appeals to me, but I would like to be known as the "Can Do" mayor. My plan calls for just one term, an ample period of time to solve most of our long-standing problems. Not being a career politician, re-election will not interfere with my decisions or leadership role.

On privatization: Snow removal by companies with heavy equipment would free-up city employees to assist neighborhoods with storm damage cleanup. Recycling should be contracted out to entrepreneurs, with the city providing collection centers where reusable items are stored for resale to salvage companies and the recycler is paid by the pound at appropriate rates. Traffic control could be farmed out to private agencies to allow police to focus on drugs and related crimes. Temporary workers could be hired to transcribe police reports on voice-activated recorders, allowing officers more time for police work.

On criticism in Annapolis of Baltimore's use of state money: The housing commissioner refused to allow anyone to see the books when the question of $26 million earmarked for new housing and renovations was found to be missing. To date, no explanation has been offered.

As mayor, I will ensure that the taxpayer gets his money's worth. I will budget all departments except essential services 10 percent less to reduce waste.

On regional cooperation, tax-base sharing and a commuter tax: I believe we need a Board of Common Interests for energy and water resources, such as solid and toxic waste disposal; environmental impacts, public safety and economic development. Only when we can solve our long-standing problems in the schools and streets should we expect cooperation from neighboring jurisdictions.

I am against commuter taxes. People who live in adjacent jurisdictions already have parking fees, and spend extra time getting to work. We should not become territorially punitive simply because it involves our individual freedom of choice to live wherever we choose.

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