Legislative districts

The Baltimore Sun

This election has been much less stressful for the city's political establishment than the last General Assembly contest, which took place on the heels of a painful redistricting and loss of seats. Incumbents who have learned to get along have formed tickets designed to provide for a little longevity in Annapolis - and to keep newcomers out. There is something to be said for continuity, because Baltimore has lost some of its most effective voices in the capital in recent years. But in some races, the benefits of seniority do not outweigh the vitality and smarts that challengers offer.

No matter who wins the governor's race in November, Baltimore will need strong and willing advocates on such issues as the crisis-ridden school system and its dysfunctional "partnership" with the state, the shortcomings of public transportation, the twin evils of abandoned housing and not enough decent housing, and "infill" economic development.

There are no Republican primary contests in the city.

District 40: There are pockets of comfort and pockets of despair in this district that covers central, east-side and west-side neighborhoods running from Mount Vernon to Park Heights. Schools, housing, health, energy costs and the corrosive effects of drugs are dominant concerns. A formidable field of candidates has rushed forward to replace retiring veteran state Sen. Ralph M. Hughes. We think the best choice is Salima Siler Marriott, who has served in the House of Delegates for 16 years and who chairs the city delegation. An effective fighter for children's issues, she has also made her mark advocating for needle exchange programs, challenging the death penalty as racially discriminatory and trying to restore voting rights to ex-offenders. She has earned the chance to take her passion and skills to the next level.

Among those vying for two open House seats, Shawn Z. Tarrant and Antonio L. Hayes, running as a team with Ms. Marriott, would bring fresh ideas and energy to the House. Mr. Tarrant, a pharmaceutical salesman, has extensive community involvement and knows how to build coalitions. Mr. Hayes is already familiar with the legislative process, having worked as a legislative assistant to Ms. Marriott and serving as legislative director for City Council President Sheila Dixon. The Sun also endorses incumbent Marshall Toby Goodwin, who was appointed to replace the late Howard P. Rawlings. He has worked with Republicans to bring dollars to his district and stresses constituent service.

District 41: Pivoting on the northwest corner of the city, this is a district where public safety, the continuing struggles of the school system and the proposed Red Line mass transit extension are constant concerns. State Sen. Lisa Gladden, coming off her first term in the upper house, easily gets the nod in the Democratic primary because her only opponent stopped campaigning and because she deserves a second go-around.

On the House side, Del. Jill P. Carter, who has served one term in the House of Delegates, and Del. S. I. "Sandy" Rosenberg, who has served six, both deserve renomination because of their energy and good ideas. For the third selection, we urge voters to choose Wendell F. Phillips, who is trying to return to Annapolis after being defeated four years ago. Mr. Phillips worked for most of the past three years for the Department of Juvenile Services - a deeply troubled agency. But he came away from the experience with an obvious passion for juvenile issues, and the legislature might be the right venue for that passion.

District 43: In this northeast quadrant of the city, if there is one issue that stands out in voters' minds, it is probably the cost of electricity. Del. Maggie McIntosh, one of the stars of the city's delegation, says she would like to "harness this moment" on both the cost of energy and the environmental questions associated with it. There's no question that the district's Democrats should give her their votes. For that matter, the other two incumbents, Del. Ann Marie Doory and Del. Curt Anderson, also deserve renomination. This is a team that should be kept together.

For the Senate, the best choice is incumbent Joan Carter Conway, who as vice chairwoman of the Education, Health and Environment Committee has, among other things, looked out for the interests of Morgan State University.

District 44: State Sen. Verna Jones champions mass-transportation projects but knows that finding the money might require unpopular methods such as imposing regional transportation taxes. It takes a bold candidate to even whisper positively about new taxes during an election. She gets The Sun's endorsement in the Democratic primary.

In the House, first-term Del. Keith E. Haynes has put in an impressive performance, particularly on health care legislation, and easily deserves renomination. For the other two spots, The Sun endorses Arlene B. Fisher, a social worker deeply familiar with the problems of this economically challenged inner-city district, and Anthony McCarthy, who has gained his own unique perspective as a minister, an editor, a congressional aide and a radio talk-show host.

District 45: Longtime Del. Clarence "Tiger" Davis, who has been a House member since 1983, is retiring from state politics. He served his district well and will be missed, but his departure provides an opportunity for promising neophytes to take a seat in Annapolis. The Sun believes Cheryl Glenn, who has been active in union and political party functions for more than a decade, is ready to go to the House of Delegates, and she gets our endorsement. Ms. Glenn, who advocates that city voters elect at least some members of the school board, should fit in nicely with Democratic incumbents Talmadge Branch, vice chair of the Appropriations Committee, and Hattie N. Harrison, the first African-American woman to chair a legislative committee. Although we have been uncomfortable in the past with the incumbents' coziness with some lobbyists, their seniority can be an asset to their district.

Incumbent Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, who says city schools will be a "big, big, big issue" next year, faces only token opposition, and thus gets our endorsement in the Senate race.

District 46: South Baltimore and Highlandtown were once represented by reliable and successful political machines, and the remnants of those machines still provide the district with its political establishment - and it's a perhaps surprisingly accomplished one. Del. Peter A. Hammen of Canton is a standout in Annapolis; his Locust Point colleague, Del. Brian K. McHale, has given his constituents 17 years of quality representation. The third incumbent, Del. Carolyn Krysiak, has been a low-key but diligent office-holder; nonetheless, we believe the district would be well-served by the earnest, idealistic and impatient challenger, Mike Mitchell, who as the son of a Peace Corps volunteer grew up in Afghanistan and Swaziland. He is now head of the Habitat for Humanity office here and is especially committed to finding ways to attack the city's housing crisis.

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