With the prospect that a third of the Baltimore City Council may change and a new president may be installed at its helm, Tuesday's Democratic primary could usher in a younger, more vibrant legislative branch.
After supporting Sheila Dixon for mayor and Michael Sarbanes for council president, The Sun endorses the following council candidates:
District 1: Stretching from Harbor East through Fells Point, Canton and Patterson Park, the district includes what is probably the city's fastest-growing immigrant population. James B. Kraft, running for his second term, is nothing if not vocal about the issues facing the area. Among them are traffic and parking, but he's also intent on reaching out to Latino immigrants and speeding up their assimilation.
District 2: For 20 years the diligent Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr. has represented the area, which lies along the far eastern edge of the city, but he's not as effective as he might be. The district could benefit from a little fresh thinking, which is why we endorse the decidedly underdog campaign of Lawrence Jamaal Moses, the former executive director of the Mayor's Office of Children, Youth and Families who now works for the state Department of Human Resources. He is concerned about gangs in the northern part of the district and an increase in drug trafficking in the southern part, and believes that part of the answer is to involve young people in constructive activities.
District 3: Robert W. Curran has represented this Northeast Baltimore district since 1995 and easily deserves re-election. Mr. Curran says the most important part of the job is delivering on local issues, but his biggest accomplishment is his success in getting the smoking ban passed last year. That in turn led directly to the state prohibition on smoking in bars and restaurants.
District 4: Our choice for the seat vacated by Kenneth N. Harris Sr. is Bill Henry, who has spent seven years with the Patterson Park Community Development Corp. He wants to bring more businesses to once-thriving areas of the district, including parts of York Road. Mr. Henry is enthusiastic about community policing, improving schools and restoring vacant properties.
District 5: No primary race.
District 6: Sharon Green Middleton, who was appointed to the seat when Stephanie Rawlings-Blake became council president, has been earnest and diligent during her seven-month tenure. But we give a slight edge to Elizabeth "Liz" Smith, a former public policy specialist for a local union who is currently executive director of Community Building in Partnership Inc., a nonprofit organization. She urges better enforcement of gun laws, wraparound services for juvenile offenders and more environmentally friendly policies.
District 7: Since 2004, Belinda K. Conaway, a teacher and counselor in the Baltimore school system, has represented this district, which covers central and northwest areas of the city including Druid Hill Park. She has been an able advocate for greater school accountability, and she deserves the chance to bring more commercial development to her district.
District 8: Ever since this district in the city's southwest corner was reshaped in 2003, residents of newly added communities have felt overlooked. Three-term Councilwoman Helen L. Holton earns our endorsement, however, because she has taken such complaints to heart and endeavored to show those neighborhoods more attention. Her seniority on the council also can be valuable in further efforts at redevelopment and crime control.
District 9: In this west-side district, new energy is desperately needed. Agnes Welch, the well-intentioned incumbent, has had six terms to deal with the desolation of vacant houses, gang violence and a flatline economy. Our choice is Michael Eugene Johnson, a Baltimore school system employee who counts the district's proximity to employment and cultural centers, educational institutions and mass transit as assets that should be aggressively marketed.
District 10: The three-term incumbent, Edward L. Reisinger, exemplifies the blue-collar neighborhoods of the city's southern fringe. But our recommendation for the seat is Terry F. Hickey, who seems best able to bridge the gap between old Baltimore and new by providing more innovative leadership along with a track record as a community advocate. A part-time law professor who runs a nonprofit agency, Mr. Hickey also pledges a more deft approach in resolving development disputes arising from the district's growth.
District 11: The candidate who stands out for the seat vacated by Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. is William Cole, a former state delegate and aide to Rep. Elijah E. Cummings who is now an associate vice president at the University of Baltimore. He strongly supports better pay for police and teachers, and has some noteworthy ideas about reducing city spending.
District 12: Councilman Bernard C. "Jack" Young has proven himself a strong advocate for revitalization in this district, which runs from Charles Village east past Johns Hopkins Hospital and includes many of the city's poorest east-side neighborhoods. A surplus of vacant housing is the issue he'd most like to address in the coming term, and he'd be right to do so.
District 13: Vernon E. Crider is a special-education teacher and retired Marine who was appointed councilman after serving as retired council member Paula Johnson Branch's legislative aide. His knowledge of the council is a plus, but he must be more active and available than Ms. Branch was to adequately represent this challenging district that straddles east and northeast Baltimore.
District 14: Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke works equally hard across the different areas of her district, which includes Guilford and South Clifton Park. She combines an institutional knowledge of city government with an advocate's passion and an activist's energy. Mrs. Clarke understands deeply the core responsibility of City Council members: constituent service.