The Sun endorsed incumbent Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for Baltimore mayor, but many readers have different ideas. Here's a sampling of letters to the editor and online commentary from Sun readers about whom they're voting for (or against) in Tuesday's city primary election.
I was taken aback by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's poor performance at the League of Women Voters debate at the Pratt library ("Challengers assail Rawlings-Blake in final debate," Aug. 31). The bottom line is not that the mayor was "assailed" by her opponents, as The Sun said, but that people are upset with the state of this city — which she represents. Granted, the candidates did outline what they believe the mayor has done wrong in her term (and whether the people agree is up to them), but the mayor stooped to calling names.
I can see why people would feel bad for her, she seemed out of her league. All of the candidates were pointed and articulate, except for Circuit Clerk Frank Conaway and the mayor — for different reasons. She was reading from talking points, spoke in a monotone, had zero charisma/passion and lacked confidence in her stances. It is easy to feel bad for someone who is so blatantly getting their butt handed to them, but this is not the time or the place. This is politics, it is tough and real. It is buck up or shut up. Fight or die. If she can't adequately fight for herself, then how on earth is she going to fight for you?
Rolley's moral indignation rings hollow
Recently I received a fundraising email from Otis Rolley entitled "You have to be kidding." His email is about the Homestead Property Tax Credit and states that "she [Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake] claimed the double credit for seven years!" This statement is at odds with the facts presented in the Baltimore Sun article ("Mayor, husband collected tax breaks on homes," Aug 31). Ms. Rawlings-Blake's husband collected homestead tax breaks on two properties, to which Mr. Rolley apparently was referring. The article clearly states that Ms. Rawlings-Blake never claimed the double credit. It was her husband who did so. Furthermore, Mr. Blake has since repaid the credit he received.
Though I have not made up my mind about which mayoral candidate I will vote for, until this morning I seriously had considered Mr. Rolley. No longer will I consider him. Mr. Rolley's moral indignation rings hollow when, rather than provide an honest description of a situation involving his opponent, he cherry-picks facts in an attempt to improve his own fundraising.
His email leaves me wondering, who is trying to kid whom?
Lowell Larsson, Baltimore
Rolley has the best vision for Baltimore
Of all the mayoral candidates, I have found that Otis Rolley has the most cogent and rational vision for Baltimore, beginning with Baltimore's foundation — its neighborhoods. In fact, the possibility of Otis Rolley as mayor has given me hope for the city, which seems to have no positive, forward-looking vision going forward.
I was lucky to be a listener in a telephone town hall meeting in which Mr. Rolley engaged in a dialogue with voters who called in with questions. I was very impressed with the knowledge of the voters and the candidate. It is a relief to have a candidate with a clear, doable, hopeful plan whom I can vote for.
The Sun would do its readers a service by offering a clear, detailed presentation of candidates' position papers on the issues the city faces going forward, without criticism or commentary by the current mayor.
Carol Casey, Baltimore
Landers is a clean act
I attended a fundraiser the other night for Joseph T. "Jody" Landers. It is the second candidate fundraiser I've attended, the first being for Otis Rolley. Both men are smart, passionate about serving the city, and genuinely concerned over the future of Baltimore. Along with State Sen. Catherine Pugh, we have good, solid choices this year and can feel pride that Baltimore still attracts quality candidates.
However, I witnessed something at Mr. Landers' event that I have never seen before in any previous election, and it spoke louder than any slogan or speech. After the crowd departed the venue, I hung out and watched as Mr. Landers walked around the room and cleaned up. He carried around a large, plastic trash bag and went from table to table, disposing of empty plates while stuffing paper items into his pockets to recycle later.
I turned and asked his media director if Mr. Landers commonly did this. "Always," he responded rather nonchalantly. "Even when there's plenty of staff to do it, he just can't help himself." It certainly left a quietly powerful impression on me. This nearly unnoticed act clearly demonstrates that, beyond what the cameras see, what the microphones pick up and what the banners proclaim, here is a man who insists on leaving a place better than when he arrived.
After what this city and this nation have been through in the last few years, that's precisely the kind of character and resolve I'm looking for in the next mayor of Baltimore.
Ned Boyle, Baltimore
Leaning to Pugh, for lack of a better option
Personally, I'm not pleased with any of the candidates. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake strikes me as competent but lacking the energy and vision Baltimore sorely needs. She has been following the same William Donald Schaefer-inspired economic plan that pretty much every mayor since Willy Don has stuck to. In case no one has noticed, it hasn't been working. Tourism and the service industry jobs that it creates are simply not lucrative enough to support the city.
Otis Rolley has some good ideas (taxing the heck out of the owners of vacants and other blighted properties and moving away from large scale developments toward more community oriented projects), and some very bad ones (shuttering more schools before they have been replaced, vouchers, privatizing city services and assets, etc).
Jody Landers seems like a one issue candidate and a poor campaigner.
Catherine Pugh has been a good state senator, but she has little executive experience. After Kurt Schmoke (a man who struck me as highly intelligent but also ineffectual to the point of incompetence), I am wary of anyone without a proven record of being able to run a large organization.
Frank Conaway doesn't even bear mentioning.
I'm fairly conflicted, but I'm leaning toward Senator Pugh.