Schism in the 2nd District City split: Newest council member must mend rip created by politics.

November 30, 1996

CHARLES VILLAGE residents who are afraid they will be ignored by a City Council delegation whose power emanates from East Baltimore have a right to feel threatened.

That's unfortunate, but it is the truth. The aloofness of incumbent 2nd District council members Paula Johnson Branch and Robert L. Douglass show they are still angry that the New Democratic Club-2, which draws core support from Charles Village, did not ++ endorse them in the 1995 elections.

Now that they have gotten fellow east-ender Bernard C. Young appointed to the seat vacated by new city real estate officer Anthony J. Ambridge, the council members may ignore the other part of the district. Informed of their concern, Ms. Branch said the Charles Villagers are just angry that for the first time they are represented by three African Americans.

Race is a factor. The old alliance between NDC-2 and the Eastside Democratic Organization typically meant a white NDC-2 candidate would be on their jointly backed ticket. Right now, though, all Charles Village residents want is a sympathetic ear, black or white. But they won't get it from Ms. Branch or Mr. Douglass, who have axes to grind. Better to try to befriend Mr. Young.

In the best interest of the district, and the city, Mr. Young should not play political games. Instead, he should do his best to represent all neighborhoods within the 2nd. He should also realize that although he owes his appointment to Ms. Branch and Mr. Douglass, their backing may not be enough to win election to a full term on the council. Particularly if NDC-2 finds an especially formidable opponent, like former Council President Mary Pat Clarke or former Councilman Carl Stokes.

Baltimore has too many problems for any council member to ignore any area of the city, let alone a portion of his or her own district. Complaints about Ms. Branch's lack of attention to constituent services did not stand in the way of her re-election. Her good friend Mr. Douglass isn't expected to do things much differently. But Mr. Young has an opportunity to show he can be a better council member than either of them. He should reach out to Charles Village and show that he cares about representing its interests, too.

Pub Date: 11/30/96

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