No surprises expected in 3 districts CAMPAIGN 1994

October 17, 1994|By Pat Gilbert | Pat Gilbert,Sun Staff Writer

In 1990, Douglas B. Riley was one of three Republicans who rode into Towson to make some changes in the Democrat-dominated Baltimore County Council.

Four years later, Mr. Riley of Towson may be the only GOP incumbent to keep his seat. The others, Birchie L. Manley in the 1st District and William A. Howard IV in the 6th, are in tough races.

And if he's hoping to see other GOP colleagues take their place, Mr. Riley isn't likely to get help from District 2 or District 5. In his District 4 and those, traditional voting patterns are expected to prevail.

Mr. Riley, a lawyer, is expected to win his race in the 4th District, which historically has elected a Republican to the council despite a 3-to-2 Democratic registration edge.

In two traditional Democratic strongholds, the northwestern 2nd District and the Eastside's 5th District, Republican chances appear slim.

The 2nd District, based in Pikesville and Randallstown, has a 7-to-1 Democratic edge and has never elected a Republican. There, GOP nominee Jacqueline A. Fleming is fighting tradition and a lack of name recognition in her race against Democrat Kevin B. Kamenetz.

In the 5th, which runs from rural Kingsville in the north to urban Essex and Middle River in the south, Republican Thomas Rzepnicki faces an uphill battle against first-term Democrat Vincent J. Gardina.

Kent P. Swanson, the county GOP chair, acknowledges that Mr. Riley has the best shot of winning of the three GOP nominees in those districts.

During his first term, Mr. Riley emerged as a council leader, serving a year as chairman and developing a reputation for consensus-building among the council's four Democrats and three Republicans.

"Doug has proven his ability to legislate and his commitment to good government," said Mr. Swanson. "The voters in the 4th District will reward him for that."

Mr. Riley, 41, announced during the primary campaign that he wants one more term to help GOP incumbent Executive Roger B. Hayden steer a course through troubled waters. Mr. Hayden is also seeking re-election.

"I think the Hayden Administration did a good job in handling the fiscal situation the county found itself in in recent years," said Mr. Riley. "I would like to stay another term so that I can help Roger Hayden deal with the real possibility of future fiscal hard times."

Mr. Riley said he also wants to use his second term to focus more attention on the areas in his district east of Towson, such as Loch Raven Village and Hillendale. Those areas, he said, need the same kind of community preservation plan that Towson received.

His Democratic opponent, John J. Appel Jr., is a semi-retired attorney who is in his fifth term on the Democratic Central Committee.

Mr. Appel, 69, said he filed for the council seat at the last minute because "I feel that no one should run for office uncontested."

A 30-year resident of Towson, Mr. Appel said that Mr. Riley hasn't compiled a very impressive record of accomplishments. Mr. Appel has run unsuccessfully in the past for the council and House of Delegates.

District 5

In the 5th District, where Democrats have a 3-to-1 registration edge, Mr. Gardina faces a more vigorous challenge from Mr. Rzepnicki, a 31-year-old Essex businessman.

"I think my experience will help ensure that we have more police on the streets and more teachers in the classrooms," said Mr. Gardina, a former county police officer.

Mr. Gardina, 38, said he wants another term to finish work on Honeygo, the most ambitious planned residential community in the county. He said he also wants to initiate a community plan to revitalize Essex and Middle River.

Mr. Rzepnicki said the incumbent's call for another term to complete unfinished work is an election-year gimmick.

"What did he do the first three years in office?" Mr. Rzepnicki said.

One of the main issues in the district, Mr. Rzepnicki said, is jobs. With unemployment high in blue-collar neighborhoods, he said, more initiatives need to come from county government to increase job opportunities.

Mr. Rzepnicki described himself as a conservative who believes in less government interference, being tough on crime and stressing family values.

District 2

Across the county, the 2nd District has always been an electoral wasteland for the GOP, but Mrs. Fleming has been campaigning hard to build up name recognition since June -- even though she was unopposed in the Sept. 13 GOP primary.

The 2nd District council seat became available when two-term incumbent Melvin G. Mintz decided to run for county executive.

Without much money or a sophisticated campaign organization, Mrs. Fleming, an African-American, is hoping to generate enough support in the district's black community to bring her victory. Slightly more than 40 percent of the residents in the district are African-American, the highest percentage in the county.

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