The Baltimore City Council, dominated throughout its 200-year history by white men, is about to become more evenly mixed with the proposed appointments of a woman and an African-American to fill two vacant seats.
Members of the 1st and 6th districts plan to nominate successors tomorrow night to two councilmen elected to the General Assembly.
Barring any last-minute maneuvering, Lois A. Garey, a Northeast Baltimore community leader, will represent the 1st District, and the Rev. Norman A. Handy Sr., pastor of Unity United Methodist Church in Harlem Park, will represent the 6th District. Their nominations must be approved by the entire council.
The appointments would tip the racial and gender makeup of the 19-member council to a more even balance. With the selection of Ms. Garey, the number of women representatives would increase to eight. Dr. Handy's appointment would bring the number of blacks to nine, still leaving the council with a white majority. Five black women are on the council.
Political observers and government professors said the changes the council result from redistricting and the gradual transition toward representation that better reflects the racial makeup of the city, which is at least 60 percent black.
"I think at the end of this year's election, there will be a majority-black council," said Arthur Murphy, a political consultant who supported a redistricting plan in 1991 to tip the racial balance among the six councilmanic districts from three majority-black districts to five.
The plan's goal was to increase the number of black council members and overcome the dominance of old-line white political clubs in the 1st, 3rd and 6th districts. Redistricting helped Councilman Melvin L. Stukes become the first black to represent Southeast Baltimore's 6th District.
"There's always a transitional period," Mr. Murphy said, citing Atlanta, Newark, N.J., and other cities that shifted to majority-black councils. "Voting patterns change gradually. But generally, you won't get a white-majority council in a black-majority city longer than a decade."
Dr. Jeffrey Henig, a professor of political science at George Washington University in Washington, agreed. "The onward arc takes time and is not guaranteed in a city that is relatively closely divided along racial lines," he said.
In the 6th District, Mr. Stukes and Councilman Joseph J. DiBlasi agreed early that they would prefer a black candidate to replace Timothy D. Murphy, now a state delegate. The two said the district now has a black population of about 60 percent, and the council representation should reflect the change.
"I think Reverend Handy would also give geographical balance to the ticket," Mr. DiBlasi said. "The area he hails from needs representation."
In the 1st District, Councilmen John L. Cain and Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr. were privately promoting their favorites even as they held a public hearing to screen candidates this month. They have agreed on Ms. Garey -- Mr. D'Adamo's choice -- to replace Perry Sfikas, who took on East Baltimore's fading political machine to capture a seat in the state Senate.
Ms. Garey, 48, is temporarily stepping aside from her job as executive director of the Harbel Community Association. Before the council adjourns in June, she wants to "see us make progress in addressing the issues of our schools, the exodus of the middle class and economic development as it relates to small businesses."
Dr. Handy, 50, who serves on the city's empowerment zone board, said, "I really want to focus on bringing the communities back to the level of livability that will make them once again the choice for people to