Turmoil visits county's 10th District City delegate eyes Senate seat

November 22, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

A Northwest Baltimore legislator's plan to move to Baltimore County and run for the Maryland Senate in the new, mostly black, 10th District has touched off warfare with county political hopefuls who fear an invasion of city politicians in their turf.

Del. Dolores G. Kelley, who says she'll move to Randallstown in the spring, has already been labeled a "carpetbagger" in unsigned leaflets left on windshields along Liberty Road.

Her plans have raised the hackles of county activists who have been working for the past eight years to develop a new political organization among the county's fast-growing black middle class neighborhoods stretching from Woodlawn to Randallstown.

They're working on a Democratic ticket for the 1994 elections headed by Harold G. Gordon, 48, their state Senate candidate.

The new 10th District, which is mostly in Baltimore County but includes a slice of Northwest Baltimore, was created with a 63 percent black majority after the 1990 census to give black politicians a chance to win additional General Assembly seats. About 80 percent of the district's voters live in the county.

Mr. Gordon and his backers see Ms. Kelley, 57, as an opportunist who lost most of her political base in the city when boundary lines were redrawn. They say she's trying to take advantage of their hard work.

"I definitely see her as an interloper," Mr. Gordon said, noting that she has never lived in the county. Mr. Gordon said he was unaware of the leafleting until a reporter called. He said he had no idea who produced the leaflets.

Ms. Kelley rejected the charges of carpetbagging.

She described herself as a regionalist, working to address problems on both sides of the city-county boundary.

She said she has a proven record of leadership in the Democratic party and is the only potential Senate candidate with practical experience either in elected office or in Annapolis.

"There's a dearth of experience [in the 10th District] -- a vacuum of leadership," she said, noting that she already represents part of what will be the 10th District.

Ms. Kelley, a professor of English and communications at Coppin State College, was elected to the General Assembly in 1990. Before that, she served on the Democratic State Central Committee from 1982 to 1986 and as state party secretary from 1986 to 1990.

She claims she was "gerrymandered" away from her own, mainly black political base in the city's Northwest 42nd District when its boundaries were pushed into Pikesville, a mainly white, Jewish community in Baltimore County.

The situation is unusual on several counts.

First, the legislative redistricting plan, although upheld by the Maryland Court of Appeals, is under challenge in federal court, so the new districts aren't yet a certainty with less than a year to go before the election.

Second, the new 10th District has no incumbents living within its boundaries.

That has created a golden opportunity for black political hopefuls in the county who have been stymied until now in their attempts to win office in mostly white county districts.

Mr. Gordon, administrator of the state Board of Social Work Examiners, ran for public office for the first time in 1990, when he lost a primary bid to unseat 2nd District County Councilman Melvin G. Mintz.

As a Senate candidate, he will head a legislative ticket that so far includes two House hopefuls, Gloria J. R. Marrow, 51, an assistant principal at Walbrook High School in Baltimore, and Lougene O. Williams Sr., 57, a state vocational rehabilitation supervisor who ran unsuccessfully for a county House seat in 1990.

Also seeking House seats are the Rev. Emmett Burns, 53, of the Rising Sun First Baptist Church, and Joseph M. Perry, 30, government affairs liaison for the Homebuilders Association of Maryland and the only white candidate so far.

Mr. Williams said his group, mainly members of the county-based Coalition of African-American Organizations, wants to raise money and organize a unified ticket before an expected glut of candidates surfaces closer to the July 1994 filing deadline. The primary election is Sept. 13.

"We have been working in the area for the past eight years. We know the area," he said of his team, adding that Ms. Kelley does not know much about the problems in county neighborhoods.

Mr. Gordon said that he offered Mrs. Kelley a spot as a candidate for delegate on his ticket over the summer but that she refused. "To come in and say, 'I want the top spot,' " he said, was just too much.

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