New City Council districts make candidates take a second look Prospective candidates believe they were redistricted out of the race.

April 15, 1991|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Evening Sun Staff

Redistricting has severely altered the plans of two candidates -- one a Democrat, the other a Republican -- who were seeking City Council seats in the 3rd District.

About two weeks ago, the City Council passed a controversial redistricting plan that changed the boundaries of the city's six council districts.

Dr. Peter Beilenson, the Democrat, and James B. Brewster, the Republican, soon discovered that their neighborhoods were not included in the new 3rd District map.

The new lines placed Beilenson's Guilford neighborhood in the 2nd District and Brewster's Gardenville neighborhood in the 1st. Neither can seek election in the 3rd District because the city charter requires council candidates to live in the districts they hope to represent.

Last year, Beilenson and Brewster waged close, but unsuccessful battles to win seats in the 43rd Legislative District, which covers much the same area as does the 3rd Councilmanic District.

Beilenson raised $30,000 in his bid for one of three House of Delegates seats in the Democratic primary. He finished fourth, 500 votes behind the third winning candidate.

Brewster narrowly lost to state Sen. John A. Pica Jr. in the General Election. Brewster, running in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans 5 1/2 to 1, managed to come within 1,346 votes of defeating Pica, a two-term incumbent.

Now, Beilenson is running in the 2nd District where he is relatively unknown and Brewster is unsure if he will run in the 1st.

Beilenson said the council needs members who are willing to work on issues such as lowering the crime rate, providing better health care for the poor, better education and lower property taxes.

"I think the advocacy on the part of the 2nd District representatives has been average at best," Beilenson said. "The work of a council member has gone beyond just getting potholes filled."

He said 2nd District Councilwoman Jacqueline F. McLean's decision not to seek re-election could offset the disadvantage he faces by running in a new district. "That puts a seat up for grabs and gives every challenger an even chance," Beilenson said.

McLean is campaigning for the city comptroller's post. The district's other incumbent council members, Anthony J.

Ambridge and Carl Stokes, are seeking re-election in this year's election.

Harvard-educated and a graduate of the Emory University School of Medicine, Beilenson is a public health physician with the City Health Department. His father, Anthony Beilenson, is a U.S. congressman who represents the Beverly Hills-San Fernando Valley area of Southern California.

Registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans, 49,445 to 8,046, in the 3rd.

Encouraged by Brewster's legislative campaign, the GOP planned to funnel money and volunteers into 3rd District council race.

"Jim ran an excellent campaign last year and, if the party was going to come realistically close to winning a [council] seat this year, it would have been in the 3rd," said city GOP chairman David Blumberg.

Brewster said redistricting may have killed his chance for a council seat.

"I might run in the First to have a Republican presence on the ticket in November," Brewster said. "But I don't have any name recognition in the First, Republicans have never done well at all in that district, so my chances of wining are not nearly as good as it could have been in the old Third."

Brewster was named city chairman of a statewide anti-abortion coalition that is mounting a voter referendum drive to overturn a liberal abortion law recently passed by the legislature. He said he might devote all of his energies to that.

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