Running a clean campaign CAMPAIGN 1994

October 24, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

If it weren't for Frank G. Phelps Jr.'s wife's distant cousin, the ordained nondenominational pastor probably would be tending to his flock. Instead, he is running to unseat Democratic incumbent George F. Bachman Jr. in the 1st County Council district.

The cousin, John G. Gary, the Republican candidate for county executive, asked him to run, Mr. Phelps explained. "They didn't have a candidate from the Republican side to run against Bachman," he said.

He concedes, however, that he is reluctant to get into the rough and tumble of politics, fearing it would not befit a minister.

"I'm just running," Mr. Phelps said. "I'm not into dirty politics and all that kind of stuff. I'm not in it for the fight. I'm just in it for the issues and to represent the community."

Mr. Bachman, whose political resume dates back 30 years, said he appreciates the thought.

"When I look at how some of the other races are going, I'm glad I'm running against him," he said.

Mr. Phelps, a member of the Linthicum-Shipley Improvement Association, has been campaigning mainly on one issue, light-rail crime. He signed a petition last summer to close the Linthicum Heights station.

Although he conceded that the crime problem has gone down with the increase in police patrols over the past few months, he argued that his neighbors were poorly served by their elected officials.

"We just felt that the community had been let down," he said.

As a councilman, Mr. Phelps said, he would meet once a month with the presidents of the community associations in the district to discuss any problem in their communities.

"A county councilman in a sense is like being a shepherd or a pastor who is supposed to be looking out for the welfare of the people the best he can," said Mr. Phelps.

Mr. Bachman said the job includes everything from securing money for schools, parks and roads to making sure potholes get fixed and helping when a constituent's food stamps are late.

Constituents, frustrated by red tape, often turn to their County Council member for such help in such instances, said Mr. Bachman.

"We are their mouthpiece. We are their servants," said Mr. Bachman, who worked to secure funding for North County High, Andover Middle and Park Elementary schools.

Mr. Phelps said he favors term limits because "once a guy is in there for more than two terms, more people get into their pockets and put favors in there."

Mr. Bachman, 73, served four consecutive terms on the council from 1965 to 1982, when he vacated his seat to make an unsuccessful run for county executive.

vTC After an eight-year hiatus, he ran for his old seat on the council and won. But this will be his last hurrah, he said.

"This is going to be my last go around, but I'm not going to drop out of sight," said Mr. Bachman, who wants to spend more time with his four children and seven grandchildren. "I'll be around the fringes. I'll be helping other people."

The next four years will be important for the county as it deals with budgets tightened by the tax limit and issues such as the Millersville landfill, which is nearing capacity, he said.

"We've got to face these things today," said Mr. Bachman. "Not two or three years from now."

Mr. Bachman, who served on the first County Council under charter government, has developed a record of constituent service and become well-known for his involvement in labor issues. He helped create the state's first collective bargaining ordinance for county employees and the county's first paramedic services and paramedic training program.

"He's very well-known and very well-liked by Democrats and Republicans," said Helen Fister, Republican Central Committee chairwoman. "Sometimes he's voted along with us. I don't know of anything against him."

Mr. Phelps, the son of a minister, grew up in Brooklyn and shares memories of his youth there in a piece of campaign literature subtitled, "My Childhood Roots in Brooklyn!." His parents moved to the Pleasantville section of Glen Burnie when he was 12.

He ministers to a flock of about 45 charismatic Christians who meet temporarily at Ferndale United Methodist Church while they wait for their own Gateway Christian Center to be built on Andover Road. Mr. Phelps said he expects it to be finished by next spring.

Mr. Phelps lives in Linthicum with his wife, Nancy, who works in real estate.

Mr. Bachman grew up in Locust Point, a working class neighborhood near the waterfront in South Baltimore. He served in the Navy in World War II, then followed his father into a career with the railroad. He retired in 1982 from his job as a machinist for the Chessie System, Inc. after 38 years of service.

He and his wife, Anna, who works as his aide, have been married 44 years and have lived in Linthicum since 1952.

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