Balto. Co.'s voters face contrasts

August 09, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

In Pikesville and Randallstown, voters who defended the status quo in 1990 don't have a status quo to defend this year. In Catonsville and areas to the south, voters who rebelled last time will have to decide whether their new status quo is worth keeping.

That makes the 1994 County Council election a study in contrast for Baltimore County's western precincts.

The liveliest primary battle is likely to occur in the Pikesville and Randallstown-based 2nd District, which returned incumbent Democrat Melvin G. Mintz in 1990 while voters in other districts were busy throwing their councilmen out.

Now, with Mr. Mintz running for county executive, 2nd District voters must decide who among five Democrats and one Republican should replace him on the council.

So far, Pikesville lawyer Kevin Kamenetz appears to have the lead among the Democrats, if money, endorsements and political experience count. Republican Jacqueline A. Fleming is unopposed in the Sept. 13 primary, but she's seeking the name recognition she'll need in the general election by actively campaigning on street corners wearing red tights and carrying a bullhorn.

Farther south, 1st District voters in Catonsville, Arbutus, Lansdowne and Baltimore Highlands enthusiastically joined the 1990 revolt, electing Republican community activist and political newcomer Berchie Lee Manley to replace 12-year veteran Democrat Ronald B. Hickernell.

Anger about growing congestion, new developments and school crowding were enough to give Mrs. Manley her chance. Now, with another Republican and two Democrats seeking her seat, voters must decide if her sometimes controversial tenure should continue.

With no incumbent and no overwhelming issue separating candidates in the 2nd District, the campaign has been largely a "who's best" affair.

Blacks show new interest

However, interest in the African-American community has been heightened by the formation of a new, predominantly black 10th legislative district that partially overlaps the council boundaries and has encouraged black candidates.

Mrs. Fleming, the lone Republican, and two of the five Democratic candidates are black, while the three other Democrats are Jewish, representing the area's largest traditional voter base.

The two candidates with the best organized campaigns are Mr. Kamenetz, 36, the county's Democratic chairman, and Dana M. Stein, 35. Both are lawyers from the Pikesville end of the district.

Mr. Stein is founder and director of Civic Works, a nonprofit youth service corps patterned after the old Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps.

A native of northwestern Baltimore County, Mr. Stein left the area to attend college and law school, returning in 1991. This is his first campaign for public office, though he worked in the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign.

The challenge for him, as for the other first-timers, is to achieve some name recognition among the voters who by now are used to seeing the name "Mintz" on their ballots.

Mr. Stein and Mr. Kamenetz both claim to be the big spenders of the group, with Mr. Stein predicting a $30,000 to $40,000 effort and Mr. Kamenetz boasting of a $50,000 campaign treasury.

Mr. Kamenetz already has spent a lot of that money on literature, bumper stickers, mailings, lawn signs and a campaign office with a paid staff member. He's also giving away packets of "forget-me-not" flower seeds with his picture and logo on the back.

A former assistant state's attorney in Baltimore, Mr. Kamenetz appears to be following the classic political path, from appointed to elected public service, with party dues-paying along the way. He has received endorsements from county teachers, police and firefighters unions, as well as several popular legislators.

He has waged a highly visible campaign in all areas of the district, including a concerted effort to woo black voters with a motorcade Saturday in the Liberty Road corridor.

Among the other Democratic newcomers, William A. Gray, 3d, 52, of Randallstown has lived in the county for more than 20 years and is part-time pastor of St. Stephens AME Church in Essex and a career state employee.

He concedes that his campaign this year is a practice run for 1998, though he said he is trying to win.

Another Randallstown candidate, Linda Dorsey Walker, 40, is a consultant in the health and human services field. Although she said she has been politically active "in every election since I could vote," this her first try for public office.

Arguing that "large pockets of individuals haven't been fully represented" on the council, she said she's trying to mobilize blacks, women and others behind her candidacy.

Meanwhile, Bernard "Bud" Toback, 64, a salesman who has run for several court-related offices in past elections, calls himself the "dark horse" in the race. He said he plans to spend under $300 on the campaign.

Budget cuts at issue

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