They don't make them like Dominic "Mimi" DiPietro any more. At 86, when most of his contemporaries are safely in retirement, he is running for re-election for the City Council seat he first occupied in 1966. But years have taken their toll. After the spring's controversial addition of South Baltimore and the Belair and Harford Road corridors to the First District, there is no certainty about the outcome on election day. Can Mr. DiPietro, who finished third in 1987, again win nomination?
This uncertainty is spawning an unusually tight contest in the Sept. 12 primary. A total of eight challengers are running against the incumbents, who include John A. Schaefer (who is seeking his sixth term) and Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr.
Fighting against Mr. D'Adamo, Mr. Schaefer has teamed with Mr. DiPietro and Joseph R. Ratajczak, a longtime precinct worker who was defeated in his his first try for the council four years ago. In club-oriented East Baltimore, this kind of alliance carries weight. How much weight may depend on the extent of voter anger with incumbents' over the redistricting changes.
These conditions have created an opportunity for Perry Sfikas, a longtime aide to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. He is campaigning hard from a solid base in Highlandtown. Not only does he have the cohesion and financial resources of the Greek community on his side but he also has the backing of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Senator Mikulski, who began her own political career as a First District council member.
No other challenger can match Mr. Sfikas' campaign. But one, John Cain, has wide name recognition because of his roots in Canton and tenure as editor of the East Baltimore Guide, a give-away weekly that has been popular for generations in area homes, taverns and crab houses.
In view of the changed boundaries of the First District, it is puzzling that all Democratic candidates but one come from East Baltimore. The exception is James Potter, a Harford Road resident.
The city's only Republican council contest is in the First. Four candidates are seeking the three nominations. Two are particularly active: Joseph DiPasquale, a recent Democrat who owns a popular Italian grocery in Highlandtown, and Leo Wayne Dymowski, an attorney.