Republicans seeking a political foothold in Perry Hall-White Marsh have accused insurgent Baltimore County Council candidate Vince Gardina of betraying his independent past by running on a Democratic Party slate in the general election campaign.
Bolstered by the defection of several former Gardina volunteers, Republican House of Delegates candidate Alfred W. Redmer Jr. declared last week that Gardina now suffers from a "complete lack of trust, credibility and loyalty" for agreeing to run on the party ticket headed by County Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen in the Nov. 6 election.
Gardina had made his name as a grass-roots community leader in northeast Baltimore County willing to buck the establishment, but he raised eyebrows when he took the dais with the incumbent executive at a function after the Sept. 11 primary.
"He has betrayed his own candidacy," Redmer said. He accused Gardina of selling out for financial help from the well-funded Rasmussen campaign.
Redmer made the comments at a news conference on the parking lot of a Perry Hall shopping center. He was accompanied by his ticket mates, Kenneth G. Hirsch and James F. Ports; state Senate candidate Willie Rush; and council candidate Patricia Fullagar, a 43-year-old computer consultant opposing Gardina.
Gardina, interviewed later, said he has not and will not receive a penny from Rasmussen. He said he ran throughout the hard-fought primary campaign as a Democrat and decided, after unseating 16-year incumbent Norman W. Lauenstein, D-5th, that has to have a working relationship with the powers that be.
"I ran against one person [Lauenstein] and I ran a clean campaign based on issues," he said. "I haven't changed my position one bit," he said, citing his work over the last four years for environmental preservation and against the congestion brought by new housing and commercial developments.
Gardina also has continuously opposed the 2 percent property tax cap referendum question that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. Redmer said he and the other Republicans running in Perry Hall favor the cap.
Louis F. Waidner, vice president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association, and Nancy Hastings, of Kingsville, both had been active Gardina volunteers in the primary but have switched to Fullagar's camp.
"The week after the primary he [Gardina] couldn't find time to meet with people who worked with him," Waidner said, noting that Gardina did meet with local Democratic elected officials and with Rasmussen. Waidner said he believes that Gardina will not now be the independent voice on the council that he purported to be.
Gardina said he has not shut out his volunteers, but he acknowledged that some have left him because of his move to join the party ticket. He said their defections will hurt "but not much."
There are, roughly, 32,000 registered Democrats in the fifth councilmanic district, compared with 11,000 registered Republicans, according to elections board figures.