Candidate's protests prompt ad group to cancel election

June 05, 1993|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Staff Writer

In an action that highlighted deep divisions within the organization, the Advertising Association of Baltimore canceled an election of officers in mid-ballot yesterday amid allegations of coercion and improper handling of ballots.

Edward Kiernan, the outgoing president of the group, said the decision to declare the current balloting null and void had nothing to do with charges by presidential candidate Jack Gilden that his opponent, Barbara Blum, had been seen passing out ballots to members in a Baltimore bar and restaurant.

Rather, Mr. Kiernan explained that he had inadvertently violated the organization's bylaws when he sat on the committee that nominated Ms. Blum.

"It's something we had been doing for years," Mr. Kiernan said. Only when Mr. Gilden raised the issue did Mr. Kiernan become aware the president was precluded from sitting on the nominating committee, he said.

Mr. Kiernan, vice president and general manager of radio stations WBAL-AM 1090 and WTTY-FM 98 Rock, said the decision to scrap the balloting rendered the other objections raised by Mr. Gilden moot.

"That's the one that stuck," Mr. Kiernan said. "You have to give him credit where credit is due. It's called 'Gotcha.' "

Mr. Kiernan said the nomination process would begin again from scratch, but that he did not know when.

Mr. Gilden, who is associate creative director at Baltimore's Cornerstone ad agency, said the or- ganization has typically chosen its top officers by "ascendancy" -- with the first vice president mov- ing up to president without opposition.

Ms. Blum, head of the Blum Group in Pikesville, is the current first vice president. She could not be reached for comment last night.

In a series of letters to Mr. Kiernan, Mr. Gilden charged that Ms. Blum distributed ballots at an association meeting at the Bay Cafe May 27 and asked members to sign them in her presence, an action Mr. Gilden characterized as "electioneering at its worst."

On Thursday, after the executive committee did not act on his objections, Mr. Gilden wrote to Mr. Kiernan and other association members, informing them that he was formally protesting the election process.

After consulting a lawyer, Mr. Kiernan called off the election, which started in May and was scheduled to end June 11.

The advertising association has been split in recent years by a number of disputes, including one over the judging at this spring's Addy awards that prompted Eisner & Associates to boycott the awards dinner.

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