It's Democrats 4, GOP 0 in council chairman contest

December 17, 1997|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Stephen G. Sam Moxley of Catonsville is scheduled to become chairman of the Baltimore County Council next month, cementing Democratic control of the job for this four-year term.

Democrats say that, despite appearances, there is nothing partisan about keeping the largely administrative chairmanship in their political family.

"It's strictly personality based," said Kevin Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Randallstown Democrat who is a former county Democratic Party chairman and was council chairman in 1996. "I don't think there has been one incident in over three years in which partisan party politics has played a role, including the chairmanship."

Vincent J. Gardina, a Perry Hall Democrat who was chairman in 1995, agreed.

"It's a matter of practicality," Gardina said, noting that only four of the seven members can be chairman during any one term. "Those four just happen to be Democrats," he said.

The council's two Republicans are skeptical.

"The facts would indicate that it's somewhat partisan," said T. Bryan McIntire, a north county-Owings Mills Republican. "I don't hear any groundswell of support to name a Republican."

Towson Republican Douglas B. Riley is resigned to a Democratic sweep.

"I'm a realist," said Riley, who was chairman in 1991, when Republicans controlled the council. The Democrats "are better at this than we are." He recalled that the GOP members allowed Democrat C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, then a councilman and now county executive, to be chairman in 1993.

The chairman, who is elected annually from among the council members, gets a $3,000 raise. The chairman must spend much more time meeting with the administration and members, with little added glory.

Several members said privately that they wanted Moxley to be chairman in this election year to help fend off a repeat of the tight race he had in 1994, when he beat incumbent Republican Berchie Lee Manley by 579 votes. It was the closest race in the county. Manley said she hasn't decided whether she'll seek a rematch.

Moxley said being chairman will give him a better chance to help his district and "to get more accomplished." As for an electoral boost, "I'm not sure how much of a help it is," he said.

The official vote won't come until the council's meeting Jan. 2, when the current chairman, Joseph Bartenfelder, a Fullerton Democrat, will leave the post. Bartenfelder is a full-time farmer who, in his year as chairman, has chafed at having to keep in close touch with government offices.

Pub Date: 12/17/97

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