Low-key council bids in 1st

August 25, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

The County Council's 1st District Democratic primary features two of North County's best-known politicians.

George F. Bachman, 73, a retired machinist who represented the district for 18 years between 1964 and 1982, left the council to run unsuccessfully for county executive. He was again elected to the council four years ago and is running for a second consecutive term.

He faces William R. Huggins, 79, who was defeated four years ago after serving 28 years as county sheriff and is feeling the itch to run for office again.

"I've had a rest for four years," Mr. Huggins said. "It's in my blood. I'm physically able and mentally able, and I decided I just had to run for office again."

Also running is Charles E. Beatty, 55, a part-time library assistant at the Baltimore City Detention Center who is active in Fathers United for Equal Rights, a men's rights group.

Mr. Beatty said he is running because he wants to provide service to the constituents in the district. "The people count. That's the bottom line," he said. "There's a lot of work that's out there to do."

By all appearances, this has the making of a very benign race. Mr. Beatty is keeping a low profile. And Mr. Huggins has nothing bad to say about Mr. Bachman's tenure.

"He's done his job well," Mr. Huggins said. "I just feel like a change is in order and most of my constituents asked me to run. So, I'm running."

The idea of campaigning in the smaller 1st District, which includes the communities of Linthicum, Shipley, Severn, Brooklyn Park and Ferndale, also appealed to Mr. Huggins.

"So I'll be spending a lot less money and a lot less time, and meeting people I've lived with all my life," he said.

Mr. Bachman said he bears no ill will toward his old friend and new political opponent.

"Bill and I have been friends ever since we've been in politics," Mr. Bachman said. "He wants to make a run for my position and I respect him for that.

"You don't let politics interfere with your friendships with people," he said. "If you do, you become a political animal, and I never want to become a political animal."

Mr. Bachman has not had much time to campaign. He is recovering from sextuple heart bypass surgery that was performed at Johns Hopkins Hospital on Aug. 2.

He came home a week later and under doctor's orders is restricting his physical activity until the end of the month.

Mr. Bachman is quick to brush aside questions about his health. "They recalled me," he said with a chuckle. "They found something wrong with me. They took out all the bad parts and put in new parts. So that's got to make me better."

Mr. Bachman said his priority during his first term was to build schools to replace aging North County facilities.

As accomplishments he points to the newly opened North County High School and to the building undergoing renovation that will open after the 1995 Christmas break as Andover Middle School.

In the last budget, he secured $9.5 million for a new Park Elementary School in Brooklyn Park to replace a decrepit building. "We had windows that were ready to fall in on kids," he said. If he is re-elected, he said he has one more school project to pursue: renovations to the building that will house Brooklyn Park Middle School.

One issue that Mr. Bachman does not expect to hear about in the primary, but counts on facing if he is in the general election against Republican Frank G. Phelps Jr., is the crime problem on light rail.

An increase in crime along the light rail stops in North County prompted one community group, the Linthicum-Shipley Improvement Association, to vote in May to close its stop.

Light rail quickly became a political issue, seized upon by County Council Chairman C. Edward Middlebrooks and others to put state Sen. Michael J. Wagner on the defensive. In the fray, Mr. Bachman sided with Mr. Wagner, who opposed closing the stop, opting instead to work out a plan for increased police enforcement.

As part of that enforcement effort, four additional police officers were assigned to the Northern District on a beat to patrol the neighborhoods adjacent to the light rail stations.

Mr. Bachman said North County elected officials, such as Mr. Wagner and himself, deserve credit instead of censure for doing something about the problem.

Crime on the light rail has dropped sharply, from 139 arrests in May and June to only eight arrests in July.

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