His father was a lawyer, and the son followed in his footsteps, earning
the LL.B. degree in 1942 and the Master of Laws in 1951
from the University of Baltimore. He served in the Army between 1942 and 1945, as a colonel.
The city of Baltimore [850,000 in size] has a so-called strong mayor
form of government. The city charter provides for a council of
nineteen members, three elected from each of six districts, plus a president elected citywide. The council is empowered to set the
property tax rate, cut the mayor's proposed budget, and confirm nominations. But the real power, particularly in an era of massive
state and federal aid to cities, is given to the board of estimates, which makes all fiscal operational decision. While the president of
the city council is president of the board of estimates the mayor is also a member and controls two more votes of the five-member
board through appointment. A Democrat, Schaefer served on the city council, 1952-1967 and was its president, 1967-1971. In
1971, Schaefer won the mayoralty election. The mayor, a bachelor, has devoted his life to his city. He also demands high levels of
accomplishment from himself and others who work for him. This trait, together with the strength of his position and character,
enables him to attract many able subordinates.
In 1975, Schaefer defeated the mayoral challenger, C. M. Chandler, by
a 91,335 to 16,036 vote. A recent analysis of Schaefer's
first eight years (two terms) gave him high marks for achievement but lower grades when compared with Thomas J. D'Alesandro
(q.v.), on his image for humaneness and sense of identity with the less fortunate. Baltimore was at least 47 percent black by 1970.
Mayor Schaefer encouraged economic development as an important source of jobs for lower class and middle class people. More
recently, the promotion of tourism, eight years in the planning, has taken a major priority. The mayor has cooperated with law
enforcement officials only to see crime rates rise and fall and rise again. He has frequently become involved in fights over
expressways. He sees them as an economic advantage but has often been forced to compromise with irate citizens of threatened
local neighborhoods. In other ways, he encourages these same citizens to organize. Stadium improvements, an aquarium, a and what
some call the finest waterfront development program in the entire United States are among his achievements. He has also worked
hard to improve the city's schools, which were victims of de facto segregation and ineffective leadership during the first half of the
Schaefer cut his urban teeth as a member of Baltimore's prestigious
Citizen's Planning and Housing association. as mayor, he worked
with Commissioner Robert Embry to bring many federal funds to the city and used them creatively. Schaefer is a fiscal conservative
and has therefore been able to keep the city's bond rating high during a period of urban collapse elsewhere. Finally, Schaefer has
claimed to push Baltimore's neighborhoods as major sources of civic strength. He continuously praises them and attends their events.
He has decentralized city government by placing eleven mayor's stations throughout the city where citizens can receive help and can
communicate with local representatives of city hall.
Schaefer has sought to blend fiscal accountability, public works improvements,
political sensitivity and civic pride to lift his city's
hopes and aspirations. As a result, Baltimore is experiencing a claimed renaissance. In November 1974, he was reelected by a vote
of 118,706 to 25,072 (S. A. Culotta) to his third four-year term. While some contemporaries speak derisively of his authoritarian
style, history may well record him as one of Baltimore's greatest mayors.
Reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Americans, 1820 - 1980. Greenland Press.
Baltimore City Government, http://www.ci.baltimore.md.us/government/h_mayors/mayschae.htm
Revised: November 04, 1998