Gardina, Bartenfelder for Council

October 18, 1994

Rarely do politicians reach such universal agreement as they have in eastern Baltimore County regarding the ugly controversy about the federal Moving to Opportunity housing program. Fifth District Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, like everyone else running on the east side, has publicly knocked MTO. Yet we know of no other pol who did what he did -- confront a hostile crowd at an open meeting last summer with some facts about MTO and the history of Section 8 housing in Baltimore County. Political suicide? Hardly. Mr. Gardina won the Democratic primary in a walk. As a voter noted on primary day, the councilman earned points for having the guts to add some rational thought to the MTO hysteria.

Indeed, Mr. Gardina, who faces conservative Republican Thomas Rzepnicki in November's general election, has been at his best when he has moved bravely into the spotlight -- his shepherding of the Honeygo development plan, for example. At his worst, he has been unfocused or contrarian on certain matters. We nonetheless view Mr. Gardina as the superior choice. We believe he could, and should, become more of a leader on the panel.

In the District Six election, GOP incumbent William A. Howard IV is challenged by Democratic Del. Joseph Bartenfelder. Both men recently were embarrassed by an incident in which Mr. Bartenfelder hired a detective to prove Mr. Howard has resided in Baltimore and Harford counties during his term, in possible violation of the county charter. Mr. Bartenfelder went too far with his spy caper, but the larger concern is Mr. Howard's flouting of the law.

Mr. Howard also has a tendency to be among the most ideological members of a panel that works best when downplaying party politics. Neither is he adverse to such blatant political ploys as his lead role this year in shifting a penny cut of the property tax away from police and teacher hires and into a minuscule refund for citizens. Mr. Bartenfelder can do a better job, as well as provide the bonus of familiarity with state government; he has been a legislator since 1982 and should help raise the county's profile in Annapolis.

As for the Seventh District, it was sewn up last month by Louis L. DePazzo, the victorious Democrat in a primary that featured no Republicans.

0 Tomorrow: Harford Council Districts A and B.

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