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Ballot Stuffing

Survey Says


Posted 8/20/2003

For the last two weeks or so, City Paper's intrepid Campaign Beat reporters have been sifting through dozens of responses to our candidate questionnaires, which we sent out at the end of July. Friday, Aug. 15, was the deadline for candidates to turn in their responses, and by late that afternoon our in boxes were flooded with envelopes and e-mails submitted just under the wire. This year, perhaps due to the unique nature of this election season, we received more than the usual amount of interesting, surprising, and inspired responses to our list of questions. Rather than multiple carbon-copy promises to "fight crime" and "improve the quality of life" in Baltimore, many candidates offered us thoughtful approaches to the city's problems and a keen insight into how the electorate views the city government right now.

For example, we asked candidates for City Council and City Council President to tell us, if elected, what they thought they could do to better serve their constituents. Overwhelmingly, the most popular answer seemed to be that the candidate would make the council his or her full-time job: "The positions of City Council persons should be and will be considered a full-time job while I'm on the council," wrote Kelley Brohawn, a Democratic candidate running in the 6th District. "Lawyers, government workers, and others who take it upon themselves to serve on this council should take a leave of absence or resign other positions to serve the citizens full time. I will push for a charter amendment to enact this as law."

Another popular answer to this question was that City Council members need to be more visible and active in their districts. According to David A. Lessner, running as a Democrat in the 2nd District, "members of the council should stop being pompous politically-based bureaucratic self-serving asses and get back to why the people elected them in the first place . . . to serve the public."

In our questionnaire for mayoral candidates, we asked respondents to tell us whether they thought "driving drug dealing across the city line, so that county users buy drugs in their own communities, rather than in city neighborhoods, is an effective crime-reduction tool for Baltimore City." We didn't actually expect anyone to enthusiastically back the idea, but we thought it might elicit some creative responses from candidates. Instead, it got us one seemingly annoyed response from Mayor Martin O'Malley, who wrote, "in my 12 years of city government, I've heard a lot of conspiracy theories, but yours is a new one. I don't know if you are advocating driving drug trafficking across the city line, or if you believe Baltimore is the only city in the United States where this is happening, but I would not advocate this approach."

Sorry, Mr. Mayor, we were just trying to keep things interesting. But apparently, we didn't have to work so hard, since many of the candidates took that task upon themselves.

For instance, 5th District City Council Democratic candidate Leonard Kerpelman sent us an envelope full of vitriol, which he refused to allow us to excerpt. Instead, we have printed his response in full here [in Adoble Acrobat format].

Republican candidate for mayor Duane Shelton told us what he really thinks of the Believe campaign: "It's expensive, useless, annoying, and confusing."

Green Party candidate David Greene sent us not only his responses but also a handful of invitations to take part in ballroom-dance lessons at the Homewood Friends Meeting House; on the flip side of each coupon is a caricature of the bearded Greene campaigning for City Council president.

Greene is a member of the Citywide Coalition, which is also running perennial candidate A. Robert Kaufman for mayor in this year's primary. Kaufman is running as a Democrat, and he also sent some eye-catching responses to our questionnaire. In addition to a 29-point explanation of what he stands for (including taking the profits out of drugs, eradicating poverty, and a progressive commuter tax, among other things), Kaufman sent us literature on how to solve the drug crisis, copies of mug shots from when he was arrested in West Palm Beach, Fla., in 1949, and two comic strips: One in which characters ignore Kaufman, gushing instead over what a "great fishing buddy" the "handsome" O'Malley would be, and another in which Kaufmanbeats a Sun "editorials and pundits" editor to a pulp while holding up placards bearing his key platform points. A. Robert Kaufman cartoon

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