Long Reach's gadfly in confrontation again Election clash the latest for Gail Bailey

June 04, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

Gail Bailey got into Columbia politics because she felt she was being harassed by the Establishment.

After six years of representing Long Reach village on the council, she says, frequent clashes with colleagues and Columbia Association staff members have kept her at odds with the status quo.

Her detractors say she's too negative and combative.

"I think the entire council has had personal and policy differences with Gail. It's not a secret," said former council member Charles Acquard, who served from 1987 to this year.

Supporters say she is fiscally responsible, dedicated and willing to stand up for what she believes.

"She's for the people," said Long Reach resident Rennie Mather.

And now Dr. Bailey, a 48-year-old pediatrician for the Army at Fort George G. Meade, finds herself embroiled in an election dispute she says has been caused by unclear rules, rather than by anything she's done.

Dr. Bailey won re-election to the 10-member Columbia Council on April 24 after receiving 276 votes cast by two apartment building owners, one vote for each apartment. Although the multiple-vote ballots have been standard in Long Reach elections, challenger Roy T. Lyons protested the practice.

When village officials ordered a new election to solve the dispute, Dr. Bailey unsuccessfully sought a court injunction to block the contest, which will go on as scheduled tomorrow.

The press "has so trashed me that maybe people will come in and vote against Gail Bailey because she's a bad person . . . and she's not," she said.

Dr. Bailey got off to a combative start with Columbia's community organizations. Soon after moving to the unincorporated city in 1979, she and her husband, Victor, bought a small, unbuildable lot near their house. The Baileys fought repeated battles with neighbors, Long Reach officials and the architectural committee over maintenance of the property.

Eventually, the couple sued the Columbia Association, the nonprofit organization that operates the city's extensive recreation and community programs, claiming unfair enforcement of the village covenants. The case was settled out of court in 1985, but Dr. Bailey's interest had been piqued.

"I wanted to prevent people from being harassed like I had been," she said.

She has been one of the most ardent watchdogs of CA since her election to the council in 1987.

She has fought to reduce pool rates, curb spending and ensure that Columbia residents have ample opportunity to join recreational facilities financed through their property assessments before the facilities are opened up for outside memberships.

"The idea should be to use money to provide facilities for as many residents as we can, not raise rates so less people can use them," she said. "People paying the CA tax are people we should be serving."

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