Democrat seems set for council in Dundalk Republican nominee wants to run for House seat

September 29, 1998|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

A last-minute election shuffle by Dundalk Republicans might have effectively guaranteed a Baltimore County Council seat for Democrat John A. Olszewski, the political newcomer who upset incumbent Louis L. DePazzo in the Sept. 15 primary.

The shuffle began late Friday,when George Rolf, 55, a Republican candidate for the House of Delegates in the 7th District, withdrew from the race.

That prompted GOP County Council candidate Russell Mirabile, a Dundalk businessman, to say he would seek the House of Delegates' post instead.

Although Dundalk hasn't elected a Republican to any local office in memory, party officials say they have a better chance at the House of Delegates seat this year than at the County Council spot.

Because Mirabile's switch apparently leaves Republicans without a council candidate, they appear ready to concede the 7th District council seat to Olszewski, who works for a company that prepares new cars for automobile showrooms.

If no new opponent appears, "I'd be elated," said Olszewski. "I'm still going to go out three weeks before the election and campaign because I want to touch base with the voters."

Mirabile portrayed himself as a strong candidate with ideas beyond the concerns of the County Council.

"Most of my issues have been statewide anyway," he said, referring to his criticism of the state's emissions control program. To show his commitment to residents, he said, "I've been out four to six nights a week at community meetings, working with police and the community relations council."

Longtime Del. John S. Arnick -- one of three Democratic incumbents seeking re-election -- seemed unfazed by the prospect of running against Mirabile.

"I don't think it will make any difference, but nothing is impossible," said Arnick, who survived a tight Democratic primary by 15 votes. "I gave up early in my career trying to second-guess elections."

Rolf, who owns a sign-painting company, withdrew hours before Friday's 5 p.m. deadline.

"I ran into some personal problems. I just cannot drop my income at this point," he said, adding that he hopes to run in 2002.

Although Rolf apparently solved his business problem during the weekend and offered to re-enter the race, he was dissuaded from doing so by Christopher R. West, Republican State Central Committee chairman.

"In light of Mr. Rolf's difficult personal and business situation, it would be best for him not to stand before the voters," West said. "He needs to take care of his home and business matters."

Mirabile, who ran for the state Senate in 1994, intends to refile for Rolf's spot before the Monday deadline.

West also said Jane Brooks, 47, who worked part time for Republican Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., has a good chance of being elected to the House of Delegates in the 7th District.

"She's the only female candidate and a lifelong resident of Dundalk," he said. "Everybody knows her."

The party contributed $1,300 to help finance her campaign. "If any Republican can win in Dundalk, it's Jane Brooks," said West.

But West noted that Mirabile, as an independent businessman, has more money for his campaign than Brooks.

Mirabile lost by a 2-to-1 margin in 1994 when he opposed Democratic Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr.

Pub Date: 9/29/98

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