For the 6th District

September 04, 1991

The redistricting plan passed earlier this year will be put to the ultimate test in Baltimore's 6th District. For nearly two generations the district has been firmly controlled by the Stonewall Democratic Club, whose base in the area's white working-class communities enabled it to dominate virtually every aspect of the district's political destiny.

Redistricting, however, resulted in the removal of South Baltimore and Locust Point, two of the club's staunchest bastions, from the 6th District to the 1st while moving black voters from the 4th District into the 6th. As a result, the new 6th District is just under 60 percent black. Yet the Stonewall organization declined this year, as it has in the past, to endorse any black candidate for the City Council races.

The three incumbents -- Joseph J. DiBlasi, Edward L. Reisinger and Timothy D. Murphy -- feuded among themselves earlier this year over fund-raising and campaign literature matters but now are reconciled and running on the same ticket. In black communities, where they have run well in the past, the incumbents' signs draw special attention to their support for city comptroller candidate Jacqueline McLean, who is black. But on similar signs in the district's white communities, McLean's name is conspicuously absent. This sort of racial gamesmanship has been going on for years under the aegis of the Stonewall organization.

Three strong black candidates -- Melvin Stukes, Arlene Fisher and Rodney Orange -- have formed a "Unity Ticket" to break the b'hoys stranglehold on the new 6th. All three merit support.

Stukes is a highly respected, long-time activist in Cherry Hill who ran fourth in the 1987 councilmanic race. Fisher, a social worker and member of the Democratic state central committee, was instrumental in the success of the Nehemiah housing development project. Orange, a steelworker from Southwest Baltimore, heads the political affairs section of the local NAACP.

The Evening Sun endorses the ticket of Stukes, Fisher and Orange because we are convinced they can provide fair representation to their district's varied constituencies and because we strongly believe a change is long overdue in the 6th.

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