It's time for First District voters to retire Councilmen Dominic Mimi DiPietro and John Schaefer.
At 86, after six terms, Mr. DiPietro has lost much of the vigor that made him such a colorful -- and often effective -- fixture in East Baltimore politics. Years also have slowed down Mr. Schaefer. His five terms are quite enough. The enlarged district, a huge land mass stretching from Belair Road to South Baltimore and Locust Point, faces a multitude of serious problems that mandate more vigorous representation.
We think John Cain and Perry Sfikas, along with incumbent Councilman Nicholas D'Adamo Jr. will give the district the strong voice it has lacked ever since Barbara Mikulski left for Washington and bigger and better things. Their backgrounds and different interests would guarantee, in our opinion, increased responsiveness to the district's varied concerns.
During his first term, Mr. D'Adamo, a Belair Road corridor resident and Highlandtown businessman, has earned a reputation as a hard worker. At times he seems to have so much energy that he throws himself into too many issues. We expect him to focus more closely on matters in which he can make a difference during his second term.
Perry Sfikas and John Cain could help him by forming a unified team that the district now lacks. Mr. Sfikas' 14 years as a constituent service aide to Senator Mikulski have trained him to do that important part of a councilman's job. At the same time, he is on the right track in wanting to pursue regional cooperation and area-wide solutions to such common problems as waste management.
Mr. Cain, a former editor of the East Baltimore Guide, has watched the waterfront of his native Canton change from a quiet blue-collar community into a hotbed of real-estate speculation. Instrumental in getting the Canton library reopened, he has also been involved in fights against truck traffic and pollution, ills which threaten the livability and stability of residential neighborhoods.
Strong neighborhood voices are important in the First District because it has so many communities proud of their distinctive identity. It also has some of the best affordable housing stock. Those houses -- from the bungalows of Hamilton to the row houses of Highlandtown and Locust Point -- ought to be promoted more prominently as properties young couples and single persons can afford.
Much of Baltimore's future viability rests on pumping new life into its neighborhoods and industries. That's why better council representation from the First District -- awash in industries and neighborhoods -- is so important. The team of Perry Sfikas, John Cain and Nicholas D'Adamo Jr. offers the First a significant break with the past, one that we heartily endorse.