The defeat of Baltimore County Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen and three incumbent County Council members has left city officials concerned about future relations with the county, but vowing to continue the spirit of cooperation.
During Rasmussen's term, the city and the county worked closely on environmental issues, transportation planning and economic development, said Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.
The mayor said he hopes the county's newly elected officials don't interpret the election results as a signal that Baltimore County voters want to end the spirit of cooperation.
"I didn't read it that way," Schmoke added. "In fact, I had the sense that the cooperation had the support not only of the elected officials in the county, but of the electorate as well."
Schmoke lamented Rasmussen's defeat, saying he and the county executive "enjoyed a very good professional and personal relationship."
Rasmussen, a one-term incumbent, lost to Republican Roger B. Hayden. Schmoke said he looks forward to discussing city-county issues with Hayden. He said he called Hayden the day after the election, but Hayden had left town for vacation.
So far, the formation of a joint task force on refuse management has been the highlight of cooperative efforts between the city and the county. It brought together members of the Rasmussen and Schmoke administrations, both councils and industry representatives.
The task force was formed last February to look into ways to reduce the cost of solid waste pickup, a significant portion of both subdivisions' budget. The task force produced a report that was unveiled during a joint meeting of both councils at City Hall.
Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger, County Council chairman, said will continue to push for implementation of the recommendations in the report.
Ruppersberger and Councilman Melvin G. Mintz, D-2nd, were the only incumbent County Council members to win win re-election.
"The biggest message sent out by the voters is they want something done to keep spending down," said Ruppersberger. "The recommendations in this report would do that."
City Council President Mary Pat Clarke expressed surprise at the outcome of the election. But she was quick to extend a welcome to the new county officials.
"We look forward to working with them and to continue the progress of cooperation we started with those they are succeeding," said Clarke.
She pointed out that the both governments must find ways to relieve the burden on taxpayers and to find more efficiency in government "which seems to fit into the philosophy of the newly elected county officials."
Douglas Riley, who won a seat in the 4th District, said he is "very much in favor of city-county cooperation."
Meanwhile, Vincent Gardina, the newly elected 5th District council member, said he favors cooperation with the city on regional planning and solid waste, but doesn't want county residents to pay for city problems.