Schrader stakes his claim for council's middle ground First-term Republican holds fund-raiser tonight

March 14, 1996|By Dan Morse | Dan Morse,SUN STAFF

Guests at Howard County Councilman Dennis R. Schrader's fund-raiser this evening can look to the right or left along the food line depending on whether they want alfredo or marinara sauce with their pasta.

This may be fitting for the moderate Republican who sees his role on the five-member council as working with both ends of the political spectrum, from conservative Republican colleagues Darrel E. Drown and Charles C. Feaga to the council's more liberal Democrats C. Vernon Gray and Mary C. Lorsung.

"I come to this job [treating] it more like a board of directors. There's a lot of opportunity for discussion," said Mr. Schrader, now in the second year of his first term on the council.

He represents the north Laurel and Savage areas and Columbia's Kings Contrivance village.

Tonight, Mr. Schrader hopes to raise $6,000 to $7,000. Tickets are $30 apiece, $50 a couple. The fund-raiser starts at 5: 30 p.m. at the Historic Savage Mill on Foundry Street.

Mr. Schrader said he eventually wants to raise $30,000 for $40,000 to fund his re-election bid in 1998.

He says he has no plans right now to run for the county executive's seat in two years. But when pressed about running yesterday, he added: "I'm not going to sit here and tell you it's not a possibility."

Already, three council members have expressed interest in succeeding Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker: Mr. Drown, Mr. Feaga and Mr. Gray.

Mr. Schrader is viewed as more moderate than Mr. Drown and Mr. Feaga on social issues, which are not as much a part of the council's agenda as they are that of the state legislature.

Still, such issues as affirmative action do come before the council and Mr. Schrader's positions have been acceptable to county liberals.

"In the Navy, I had two African-American bosses, so I've learned a lot from them, from their perspective," said Mr. Schrader, who Republicans say speaks of bringing more African-Americans into the party during Republican meetings.

During an Oct. 23 council meeting, Mr. Schrader showed that he favors giving minorities more opportunities at government contracts a move Mr. Drown said he objects to because they amount to quotas.

Sherman Howell, a vice president of the African American Coalition of Howard County, said he's pleased with Mr. Schrader's performance thus far. He said he hopes Mr. Schrader does not follow Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America."

"There would be a re-evaluation of him," Mr. Howell said.

Mr. Schrader receives support from other traditionally liberal interests. Jan Nyquist, a gay rights activist from Columbia, credits Mr. Schrader with providing the swing vote to keep her on the county's Human Rights Commission.

Still, on key issues, Mr. Schrader has shown he will line up with his Republican colleagues.

At a council meeting earlier this month, for example, Mr. Gray introduced a series of pro-labor changes to a bill designed to give county supervisors more power in transferring workers.

These efforts were shot down in succession by the council's Republican majority, including Mr. Schrader, who said the county must have more flexibility in reducing the size of its work force.

Republican state Sen. Martin Madden of Clarksville said Mr. Schrader has "made his mark very quickly" on the council, but has not reached the level of Mr. Drown or Mr. Feaga.

"He's not there now," Mr. Madden said. "There's no reason why he couldn't be there in two years."

Pub Date: 3/14/96

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