In a meeting that could foreshadow a continuation of the warming trend in city-county relations, newly elected county executives from some of Baltimore's neighboring counties came in from the suburbs last night to attend a downtown fund-raiser for Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.
Incoming county executives for Howard, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, all Republicans, were among scores of elected officials and business leaders from around Maryland whom the Democratic mayor invited to last night's $500-per-ticket fund-raiser at the Omni Inner Harbor Hotel.
"Building a relationship is important, and this is an important first step," said Roger B. Hayden, the incoming executive for Baltimore County. "He was gracious enough to invite me, and I thought it was important enough to take the opportunity to meet him in person."
Mr. Hayden was introduced by Mr. Schmoke to the more than 800 people in attendance, along with Charles I. Ecker and Robert R. Neall. Mr. Ecker was elected in Howard County, and Mr. Neall, a former delegate, was elected in Anne Arundel County. Mr. Schmoke said he invited the three incoming county executives to shake hands and munch on hors d'oeuvres as a way to meet informally and begin a relationship he hoped would help persuade them to view regional problems collectively.
"We want to have good relations with elected officials from across the state," Mr. Schmoke said. "I thought it was a good sign that they said they would attend."
City-county cooperation, for years a goal of elected officials in Baltimore, has been viewed as increasingly important in recent years by city officials trying to cope with a dwindling tax base, troubled schools, financially strained cultural institutions and the certainty that reapportionment will reduce the city's voice in the General Assembly.
Meanwhile, county executives also have begun to see the advantages of forging alliances on some issues with Baltimore, which is the hub of the region's economy and plays a significant role in issues, such as trash disposal and water supply.
County executives as late as the mid-1970s openly distanced themselves from the city and its problems, and elected officials from other parts of the state often still see themselves in competition with city interests.
Mr. Hayden said he would try to meet more formally with Mr. Schmoke and the executives of other Baltimore-area counties soon to discuss how the various jurisdictions could address such mutual concerns as trash disposal, economic development and traffic congestion.
"We certainly have to look to someone with background and experience to bring the rest of us up to speed," Mr. Hayden said of the mayor. "I think it's important to talk about the things that affect us all."
The faces in the crowd included elected officials from across Maryland, including Thomas H. Hattery, a delegate from Frederick County; Louis L. Goldstein, state comptroller of the treasury; Parris N. Glendening, executive of Prince George's County; and Representative Tom McMillen, D-Md.-4th.
Addressing the crowd, Mr. Schmoke lobbied for support for the recommendations of a gubernatorial panel known as the Linowes commission, which has called for changes in the Maryland tax structure that would benefit poorer subdivisions.
Yesterday's was the third fund-raiser this year for the mayor, who will seek election to a second term next year.
Larry S. Gibson, the mayor's campaign coordinator, said Mr. Schmoke had raised about $800,000 in campaign contributions in the three years he has been mayor. Last night's fund-raiser was expected to push total contributions beyond $1 million, Mr. Gibson said.