Kolodziejski hopes legal name change 'Stokes' recognition on fall ballots

August 10, 1994|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

Call him Stokes -- officially.

Charles Kolodziejski, the District 31 delegate who has been known since childhood as "Stokes," has changed his name for good, and he hopes, for the better.

Now officially C. Stokes Kolodziejski, the Carvel Beach Democrat said he hopes the $250 name change will help him win more votes at the polls this fall.

"It certainly can't hurt," Mr. Kolodziejski said. "I've had some people looking for my name on the ballot. They're looking for Stokes."

Mr. Kolodziejski introduced legislation in January 1993 that would have allowed candidates to use their nicknames on the ballot, but the bill failed.

Even Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, who changed his name in 1970 to include "Mike," opposed the bill.

"Nicknames could be used to appeal to [voters] for reasons which have nothing to do with their qualifications," Mr. Miller said in an interview last year.

But for candidates such as Mr. Kolodziejski, every single vote makes a difference, and the more people who recognize his name, the better.

As a first-time candidate in the 1986 general election, Mr. Kolodziejski squeaked past James J. Riley for the victory with only 155 votes.

In 1990, he won the primary election by 1 percent.

Though the omission of his nickname on the ballot may not be the reason for his narrow victories, Mr. Kolodziejski said that not having the name "Stokes" on a ballot has once before cost him an election.

About 20 years ago, he said, when he ran for vice president of the Stony Creek Democratic Club under the name C. W. Kolodziejski, he lost by one vote.

The next year he ran for president.

"When I ran under Stokes against the same person as I did the previous year, I beat him by 22 votes," he said.

A name change has helped at least one other political candidate to victory, according to Jim Brochin, campaign manager for American Joe Miedusiewski.

Frank Miedusiewski was known to many as "American Joe," a name passed down from his immigrant father who owned a tavern called American Joe's.

Frank Miedusiewski ran for the House of Delegates in 1970, under his legal name, and was defeated. Four years later, his son, Joseph Francis Miedusiewski, legally changed his name to American Joe and won the delegate race.

Since then, he has remained undefeated, and he is now a candidate for governor.

Mr. Kolodziejski said he does not expect his name change to launch him into an amazing political career, but he said his track record should keep his name in the winner's circle.

"Our ticket is one of the hardest-working teams in Annapolis," he said. "We should win by that alone."

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