Former newcomers now run as incumbents CAMPAIGN 1994

August 23, 1994|By Pat Gilbert | Pat Gilbert,Sun Staff Writer

Republican Douglas B. Riley and Democrat Vincent J. Gardina entered the Baltimore County Council four years ago riding the wave of anti-incumbent fervor.

Both came from community activist backgrounds. And a year ago, both seemed likely to win re-election in their party's primary without opposition.

Although they are still the favored incumbents, they now face candidates who have emerged to challenge them in the way they challenged other incumbents in 1990 -- by claiming they have failed to do the job voters elected them to do.

In the 4th District, Mr. Riley faces a Sept. 13 primary challenge from Thomas V. Morris, who owns and manages an apartment building in Baltimore. John J. Appel Jr., a lawyer, is running unopposed in the Democratic Primary.

Mr. Gardina is opposed in the 5th District by Adam E. Paul Sr., a retired county police captain, and Robert J. Hogan, a contractor. Republican Thomas Rzepnicki, a businessman, is unopposed.

The 4th District covers the north central area from the city line to Timonium. It includes primarily upper-class and middle-class neighborhoods and the commercial-industrial corridor of York Road.

Mr. Riley, 41, a Towson lawyer, said he ran for council in 1990 because he felt that then-incumbent Barbara Bachur wavered too much on tough issues.

He already is promising that if re-elected, this would be his last term.

"I think eight years is enough to accomplish what you set out to do, and if you can't, then it's time to have someone else take over," Mr. Riley said. He has made it known he would be interested in running for county executive in four years.

A cum laude graduate of Bowdoin College and Tulane University Law School, he emerged as one of the council leaders during the term.

He often teamed with Democrat Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger III and Republican William A. Howard IV to settle controversial issues.

One of the more controversial issues in his district was the sour relationship between Towson State University and nearby residential communities. He formed a committee to bring the sides together and sponsored several bills dealing with such campus-community problems as noise pollution and student boarding houses.

But Mr. Morris said Mr. Riley hasn't done enough.

"He's very weak, in my opinion, on constituent service," said Mr. Morris, 43, a civil engineer who said he finds Mr. Riley indecisive. Mr. Morris said he would offer clear, decisive positions on all issues.

Mr. Riley said he tries to sift through all the facts before making a decision. Being a leader is "not about being out there first on an issue but being out there right," he said.

He has stubbed his toe on occasion, such as a proposal to change traffic on several streets near Towson State to one-way, prompting an outpouring of community opposition and dropping the idea.

The 5th District includes Kingsville in the north which shares farms and upper-middle class residential communities, the middle-class White Marsh/Perry Hall growth area, working class areas of Middle River and Essex and waterfront communities on Back River Neck and Bowleys Quarters peninsulas.

Mr. Gardina has been buffeted by controversy generated by Moving to Opportunity, a federal pilot program that would allow selected families from Baltimore's inner city to move to Section 8 rent subsidized housing in more affluent neighborhoods in the city and surrounding counties.

The MTO program has met vehement opposition in the 5th District, with Mr. Paul and Mr. Rzepnicki turning the campaign into a referendum on Section 8.

"Everywhere I go. I'm getting beat on by the subsidized housing issue," Mr. Gardina said.

Mr. Gardina correctly has pointed out that neither the council nor county government has any control over MTO. On the Section 8 issue, Mr. Gardina said that if the council rejects the grants, the federal government could administer the housing program without local oversight.

In an effort to blunt criticism on MTO and Section 8, Mr. Gardina recently asked county attorneys to seek an injunction delaying relocation of MTO participants until the county receives more information about the program. County Attorney Stanley J. Schapiro said his office is studying the request.

Mr. Gardina said he wants to be re-elected so he can finish several first-term initiatives, such as completion of the Honeygo Development Plan, the Essex-Middle River Renewal Plan and a sewer expansion program for waterfront communities.

"I feel I have put in a lot of hard work, a lot of time on this job and I have always been forthright with my constituents," said Mr. Gardina, 38, a former county police officer who is highly regarded for his constituent service. "The problems of the district aren't ones that can be solved overnight as other candidates would have you believe."

Although Mr. Gardina joined others in forging compromises, he never emerged as a council leader. And his colleagues criticized him for pushing legislation that he knew had little or no support for passage.

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