DiBlasi aiming to win City Council's top post

October 12, 1994|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Sun Staff Writer

Burned once in his attempt to become Baltimore's comptroller, City Councilman Joseph J. DiBlasi is twice shy.

So instead of seeking the city's third-highest position, Mr. DiBlasi is trying for an even bigger prize -- the council presidency.

Mr. DiBlasi, who has represented South Baltimore's 6th District since 1983, last week became the first to officially file his candidacy.

"He wins the early bird prize," quipped Council President Mary Pat Clarke, who plans to challenge Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's bid for a third term next year.

Several of Mr. DiBlasi's colleagues on the 19-member council, including Vice President Vera P. Hall and 2nd District Councilmen Carl Stokes and Anthony J. Ambridge, also are interested in the job. But Mr. DiBlasi said yesterday, "I'm taking the mound first, and I'm playing. I'm pursuing this with all my enthusiasm, drive and fervor." He made his choice over the summer after Mr. Schmoke backed 5th District Councilwoman Iris G. Reeves instead of him to complete the term of former BTC Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean. McLean has since pleaded guilty to stealing more than $25,000 by putting a fictitious employee on her payroll; she will be sentenced in December.

The mayor initially seemed to favor Mr. DiBlasi, 47, a co-chairman of the council's budget committee and a former Maryland National Bank employee. But the mayor later backed Mrs. Reeves as interim comptroller, while his campaign manager, Larry S. Gibson, approached Mr. DiBlasi about assembling a ticket for 1995.

The maneuvering left Mr. DiBlasi worried, according to his associates on the council. "I think he feels he was misled by the administration six months ago. If they went back once, what will stop them from doing it again?" said 1st District Councilman Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr.

Mr. DiBlasi said that he wants to restore a sense of purpose to the council, which he described as increasingly "fractured" by political ambitions.

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