Young's future topic of guesswork 'The options are all over the place,' Schmoke says

January 24, 1998|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Ivan Penn contributed to this article.

Trying to guess just how Larry Young, the fallen Maryland senator, could stage a comeback has become a popular political parlor game in Baltimore.

Even Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has been caught up in the swirl of speculation since the Maryland Senate expelled Young last week for ethics transgressions.

Immediately after his ouster, the West Baltimore Democrat vowed to return to elected office as quickly as possible.

Some Baltimore political leaders think he will try to reclaim his Senate seat; others suggest he will attempt to switch into the House of Delegates. Schmoke added to the conjecture by discussing a distant third possibility: the Baltimore City Council.

That theory calls for a delegate to fill the Senate vacancy, a council member to be appointed to the House and Young to take a seat on the council.

"Look, the options are all over the place," the mayor said at his weekly news briefing Thursday. "I know he's had a number of conversations. He wants to contribute, and he wants this to be a kind of period that maybe he's passed through the fire and come out a better person."

Yesterday, however, the only council member who lives in Young's 44th District quickly shot down such an elaborate shuffle.

Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., a teacher at Boys' Latin School, a North Baltimore private school, said he is happy in his first term on the council and intends to stay.

"I'm not interested in a House seat or the Senate," he said. "I enjoy the City Council. I don't know where all the scenarios are coming from. I found out from my students."

Councilwoman Sheila Dixon, one of Mitchell's colleagues from West Baltimore, pointed out that Mitchell would have to take a 90-day leave from his teaching job to serve in Maryland's part-time legislature. Mitchell also would be paid less in the General Assembly: The annual council salary is $36,000, compared with $29,700 for the House and Senate.

"To me, it doesn't make any sense," Dixon said.

Early next week, the 44th District's Democratic Central Committee will meet to fill a vacancy of its own before it begins interviewing applicants for Young's Senate seat.

On the same day Young was removed by his colleagues for using his public office for personal gain, he said he hoped to be considered for the seat he held for a decade. But the Senate resolution bars him for the rest of the term, which ends next January, so he would have to undertake a legal challenge. Some think he might attempt a quicker return through a flip-flop in which the central committee would appoint a delegate to his old seat, then name Young to the House.

The 48-year-old Young, who has kept out of the public spotlight, cleaned out his Senate office in Annapolis this week. He referred questions about his political plans yesterday to his lawyer. His lawyer did not return calls.

On WOLB-AM, a Baltimore radio station whose owner has staunchly supported Young, several callers proposed yesterday that Young's seat be left vacant for the rest of the legislative session. Callers also debated whether Young should give up or immediately begin a re-election bid.

Pub Date: 1/24/98

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