Balto. Co. to get new officials

June 20, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

Regardless of the outcome of elections this fall, Baltimore County will have a new core of officeholders next year.

At least a third of the county's state legislators are leaving or running for other offices, and three of the seven County Council seats are being vacated.

In addition, the county is likely to have its first African-American legislators, from the new black majority 10th District, which stretches from West Baltimore to Randallstown and contains four seats with no incumbents.

Although blacks make up 12 percent of Baltimore County's population and their numbers are growing, the creation of a legislative district with a 60 percent black majority is "the breakthrough that's needed," said Dunbar Brooks, a black member of the school board from the east side.

He said this year's campaigns will help the black community learn to mobilize voters and build a political base in the county.

The same redistricting plan that set up the black majority district created other legislative boundaries that cross the city-county line and may result in very different city and county delegations in next year's General Assembly.

Before, senators and delegates represented one jurisdiction or the other. But members of the next session often will represent both, a cross-pollination that could enlarge each delegation's voting clout and change voting patterns.

In the County Council, those departing include the two senior members, Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger III of Cockeysville and Melvin G. Mintz of Pikesville. Both are seeking to challenge County Executive Roger B. Hayden, a Republican. Mr. Ruppersberger has served nine years on the council and Mr. Mintz, eight years. Council member Donald C. Mason of Dundalk is retiring.

Among the remaining four members, Chairman William A. Howard of Fullerton and Berchie L. Manley of Catonsville, both Republicans, face their most serious challenges.

Five of the seven council members changed in 1990.

Among legislators, Essex Del. Leslie Hutchinson decided not to run after more than a year of struggles with debts and motor vehicle infractions. After 14 years in the House, Dundalk Del. Louis L. DePazzo is running for the County Council, as is Del. Joseph Bartenfelder of Fullerton, an 11-year veteran. All are Democrats.

Three members of the House are seeking the 2nd District congressional seat being vacated by Helen Delich Bentley, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor. They are Democrats Connie Galiazzo DeJuliis of Dundalk and Gerry L. Brewster of Towson and Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who represents the north county. One of Mr. Ehrlich's north county colleagues, Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey, is running for governor.

Meanwhile, Towson Republican John J. Bishop is hoping to move from the House to the Senate, while two Democratic senators -- Paula C. Hollinger and Janice Piccinini -- are fighting for the same seat after redistricting pushed them together in the new 11th District. On the west side, state Sen. Nancy L. Murphy, a Catonsville Democrat, is running for county executive.

Politicians are split on the significance of the changes. Incumbents say the county will need its experienced legislators if it is to have influence in Annapolis.

Senate delegation Chairman Thomas L. Bromwell of Fullerton and Dundalk Del. John S. Arnick, both Democrats, face particularly tough challenges, starting with primary contests. Other incumbents are fighting to retain their seats in the often unfamiliar territory created by redistricting.

Mr. Arnick, who won re-election in 1990 by six votes, then lost a judgeship after being accused of making sexist remarks to a woman lobbyist, said legislators with seniority will be critical to the county's successes or failures in Annapolis.

"The counties that come back with seniority will have a leg up on leadership," he said, particularly in winning key spots on the legislature's powerful financial committees.

Challengers say the county needs new representatives to find new ways to win more school construction money and to forge alliances in the General Assembly.

"It would be great to have new blood in Annapolis," said former delegate Donna Felling, who hopes to knock Senator Bromwell out of office.

The county's growing Republican Party hopes to take advantage of the shakeout to win more seats this year and has fielded many candidates in the traditionally Democratic strongholds of Essex and Catonsville.

Democrats argue that Republican victories would mean a split delegation and less ability to deliver a bloc of votes to seal potential deals. Mr. Bromwell said that even if a Republican wins the governor's job this year, the General Assembly will remain controlled by Democrats, keeping GOP legislators out of leadership.

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