Baltimore Press

Four Candidates Seek No. 2 Post

The race for President of the City Council has begun.
With three days until the fil­ing deadline, the contest for the second highest job in City gov­ernment appears to be a race between two veteran state legis­lators and a City Council­woman who is strong in her dis­trict, but controversial in some circles.

Former State Delegate Frank Conaway (who now is Clerk of the Circuit Court), former State Senator Nathan Irby (who now is executive director of the City Liquor Board), City (D-4th), and David Green (a retired scientist who is running with Mayoral candidate A. Robert Kaufman) dis­cussed the issues last Tuesday at a candidates forum held by the Second District New Democratic Club. County Executive C. “Dutch” Ruppersberger was the moderator.
The four candidates engaged in an abbreviated forum before the Mayoral candidates engaged in the main event. It was the first chance that voters had to view all of the announced candi­dates.

The forum began with remarks by Dixon, who began by saying that she once wanted to leave Baltimore, but decided to stay and “make an impact on people’s lives.” Dixon has served in the City Council for 12 years. “My constituents come first,” she said. As President of the City Council, Dixon said, she would demand that new jobs for city residents be created “for every contract that comes before the Board of Estimates.”

Dixon was followed by Conaway, who described himself as “probably one of the most successful legisla­tors” during his 8 years in the House of Delegates. Conaway called for changes in the City Charter that would reduce some of the powers of the Mayor. “The Mayor need not run the city completely. He holds the purse strings,” Conaway said. Under his plan, the city’s Board of Estimates would be changed from a body whose majority is appointed by the Mayor, to a three-member panel similar to the State Board of Public Works.

Conaway would have the Mayor, President of the City Council, and the Comptroller sit on die board, making it possible for the Mayor to be outvot­ed. With the Mayor’s power dimin­ished, Conaway said, die City Council would “become more of a legislative body than a rubber stamp.”

Green, who is running as a candi­date of the Citywide Coalition, called for the legalization of drugs, to take the profit out of drug dealing. “Offer the addicts drugs at little or no cost that will destroy the drug trade,” he said. In Switzerland and the Netherlands, where drugs are more readily available, “Addicts are older. They don’t die.” Green cited a statis­tic that only 40% of addicts respond to treatment. “What about the other sixty percent?” he asked.
Irby, who spent 12 years represent­ing East Baltimore in the State Senate and 8 years in the City Council, decried the seemingly built-in con­flicts that have kept the Mayor and President of the City Council at odds in recent years. More progress would be made, he said, “if you have the Mayor of Baltimore and the President of the City Council working in con­cert.” Irby also spoke about the drug problem, noting in his opening remarks that he once was a drug counselor. He said that drug treat­ment programs needed to follow up with clients and their families after the treatment period if over. “Any drug problem that [doesn’t] have after care, you’re wasting your money.”

After their opening statements, the candidates took questions from the floor, under the guidance of modera­tor Ruppersberger.

Destruction of Drugs:
Community activist Bill Goodin began the questioning by asking the candidates whether they approved of burning confiscated drugs at a public trust the policy, then why would we have police.” Irby suggested that we should use another layer of govern­ment for drug enforcement activities.

Dixon said that she did support the destruction of drugs, and that a sys­tem should be set up for that purpose.


The next question concerned a recent report on the feasibility of building a replacement for the Baltimore Arena, the city’s indoor sports facility.

Green said “Sorry, I’m not for any more large buildings.” He did, how­ever, suggest that the city needed pub­lic restrooms for its growing tourist community.

Irby said that the city should improve the arena. “More conven­tions mean more money,” he said. “I will articulate it at the City Council.”

Conaway said that the city should “make a deal with a team” before building an arena. “We need a guar­antee of revenue.”

Dixon said that “a new arena is needed. We have state support. We can get some sort of team.”

Economic Development:

The next question dealt with eco­nomic development.

Conaway said that he favored rebuilding neighborhood shopping districts. “We need to build things where people can shop in their com­munities,” he said. “We need to build houses [to get people to] come back .into the city.”

Green followed up on Conaway’s proposal for more neighborhood shopping by suggesting that neighbor­hood businesses be co-ops. A com­munity grocery store, he said, “should be controlled by that neighborhood.”

Irby responded to the question about economic development by tout­ing the city’s potential as a tourist attraction. “Do you realize that more people went to the Inner Harbor than went to Disneyworld,” he said, echo­ing a popular claim by the developers of Harborplace. Irby called for regional support for Baltimore’s tourism, saying “the outer counties should pay some additional dollars for what is the mecca for arts and cul­ture.”

Dixon said that the city needed to restructure its budget. The city, she said, needs to do a reassessment for each agency. “I’m not saying privati­zation, but we need to look at what services Baltimore City government needs to be in the business of.” The rest, she said, should be “fanned out.”

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