DiPietro, Schaefer lose council seats First black elected in city's 6th District

September 13, 1991|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Evening Sun Staff

A controversial new redistricting plan caused three incumbent Democrats to lose their seats and resulted in the election of the first black City Council member in the 6th District.

Council members Dominic Mimi DiPietro and John A. Schaefer were defeated in the 1st District primary election, and Edward L. Reisinger was unseated in the 6th. Melvin L. Stukes will replace Reisinger as a candidate in the general election.

All the vote counts remain unofficial, however, until absentee ballots are added up. That work starts tomorrow at 10 a.m.

The proponents of redistricting hoped it would increase the chances that blacks would be elected to council seats in the 3rd and 6th districts for the first time by creating majority-black voting populations.

In the majority-white 1st District, redistricting led two white incumbents to defeat by white challengers.

About 40 percent of the voters in the 1st District were shifted there by redistricting. Many of the new voters were angry at Schaefer, 63, and DiPietro, 86, for not taking a more vigorous stand against redistricting.

Meanwhile, challengers Perry Sfikas and John Cain and incumbent Nicholas C. D'Adamo, 33, took advantage of anti-redistricting sentiment to win convincingly.

Unofficial returns from the city Board of Election Supervisors showed black candidate Melvin L. Stukes with a 730-vote margin over 6th District incumbent Edward L. Reisinger. If his victory holds up, the number of blacks in the City Council will increase from seven to eight.

Earlier in the evening, with 96.6 percent of the vote counted, Stukes was losing to Reisinger by about 700 votes. He left the election board last night saying, "I can't make up that margin with only 3 percent of the vote outstanding."

But after the Cherry Hill precincts' totals came in, Stukes showed 5,068 to Reisinger's 4,338, a 1,400-vote turnaround for the challenger.

Reached later, Stukes, who seemed not to know whether to be jubilant or cautious, finally said, "Maybe I should wait until later today and double-check the numbers at the election board."

Reisinger, who went to bed around 1 a.m. thinking he was a winner, said he, too, would "be at the election board later today to check this out."

Meanwhile, in the 3rd, incumbents Martin E. "Mike" Curran and Wilbur E. "Bill" Cunningham and challenger Martin O'Malley won election.

O'Malley won in the 3rd, where incumbent Joseph T. "Jody" Landers III gave up his seat to make an unsuccessful bid to become city comptroller. Paula Johnson-Branch won in the 2nd, replacing incumbent Jacqueline F. McLean, who vacated her council seat to run in the comptroller's race.

The three incumbents from the 4th and 5th districts won easy victories against only token opposition.

Although Republican candidates are running in the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 6th council districts, there were no GOP primary contests. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 281,779 to 30,533 in the city.

1ST DISTRICT

DiPietro lost his bid for a seventh term while Schaefer fell short in his try for a sixth. They were bumped out of the council by Sfikas, 35, an aide to U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, and Cain, 51, editor of the East Baltimore Guide and an activist in Canton.

DiPietro, who went home early after learning he had finished third in his home precincts, said he had been duped by some of his supporters.

"Everybody came up to me and said, 'Hello, Mimi, I'm for you,' " he said. "I thought I was doing good."

Schaefer, a council member since 1971, said redistricting had caused his defeat.

Joseph R. Ratajczak, 57, ran on a ticket with Schaefer and DiPietro and shared in their fate.

D'Adamo received 12,246 votes -- the highest total for any Democrat in the 1st. Despite having little money or much of a campaign organization, Cain received 6,850 votes to finished third ahead of Schaefer's 5,923 votes and DiPietro's 5,855.

2ND DISTRICT

In the 2nd District, Carl Stokes, one of the architects of the redistricting plan, won his second term, finishing a strong second after barely eking out a victory in 1987.

Stokes, 41, chose not to run on a ticket with incumbent Anthony J. Ambridge -- with whom he campaigned in 1987 -- and Ambridge's running mate, Paula Johnson-Branch.

Ambridge, 41, running for his third term, easily won re-election, finishing first with 7,752 votes. Johnson-Branch withstood a surprise late charge by homeless advocate Beatrice Gaddy to win the third seat.

3RD DISTRICT

Redistricting and Joseph T. "Jody" Landers' decision to give up his council seat to run for comptroller sparked a large number of candidates in the Democratic race. Martin O'Malley finished first with 7,629 votes.

Incumbents Curran, 56, and Cunningham, 41, won re-election despite redistricting. Curran, a 14-year veteran, came in second with 6,695 votes and first-term incumbent Cunningham, 41, beat back a strong run by George E. Brent to capture the third seat with 6,246 votes.

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