Same faces in city race

1st District primary for Democrats has top 4 vote-getters from '95

3 council members unite

August 22, 1999|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

In the 1st Councilmanic District of southern and Southeast Baltimore, the three incumbent representatives -- John L. Cain, Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr. and Lois Garey -- are seeking four more years in office in next month's Democratic primary.

Their principal challenger, Charles Krysiak, just wants to find nine more votes.

That's how many additional ballots Krysiak needed to gain the third spot in a 12-person field in the 1995 Democratic primary.

Krysiak wound up with 7,557 votes to 7,565 for Cain in a race not decided until absentee ballots were tallied. Garey garnered 8,118 votes, while D'Adamo, the dean of the 1st District delegation, led all candidates with 12,944.

These four are among nine Democratic candidates seeking election from the 1st District, which follows the southern, southeastern and eastern edges of the city.

The district encompasses upscale Federal Hill and funky Fells Point, as well as the blue-collar and middle-class neighborhoods of Highlandtown and Belair-Edison. It includes Southeast Baltimore's traditional ethnic mix of residents -- Poles, Italians, Greeks -- as well as a growing Hispanic presence.

Of Baltimore's six councilmanic districts, the 1st is the only one that is predominantly white and has an all-white council slate. Four years ago, it was the sole district Mary Pat Clarke carried in her unsuccessful campaign to beat Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke in his bid for a third term -- and Clarke beat Schmoke by better than 3-to-1.

Whoever emerges from the Democratic field will not be able to stop campaigning after the Sept. 14 primary, as has traditionally been the case in overwhelmingly Democratic Baltimore.

Republican hopefuls

That's because the Republicans are fielding a well-known and well-heeled candidate in Robert N. Santoni Sr., president and co-owner of Santoni's Market, the popular East Baltimore grocery founded by his father.

Santoni gets a bye into November's general election along with fellow Republican Michael P. McNamara, a local party officer, since they are the only two GOP candidates to file for the district's three council seats.

Libertarian Party candidate Lorenzo Gaztanaga will also be on the general election ballot.

Santoni, 54, has raised $18,645 for his campaign and said, "We're dead serious about this race."

His presence has the Democrats looking over their shoulders.

"We're taking him very, very seriously," Garey said.

As for the Democratic primary, although the four top vote-getters from four years ago are again on the ballot, there is at least one major difference between this year's race and the 1995 contest.

This year, Cain, D'Adamo and Garey have joined together on a single ticket; four years ago, Garey ran with D'Adamo, while Cain campaigned alone.

The 1995 split among the incumbents was symbolic of the antipathy between D'Adamo and Cain. The animosity reached a high point four months before the primary in the "Punch Heard Round East Baltimore," when Cain belted D'Adamo in the stomach during a May meeting at a restaurant.

Different styles

The two men say they have come to realize that their votes -- and those of Garey -- are almost always in sync, though their styles are markedly different, with Cain the often shoot-from-the-hip maverick and D'Adamo more the measured politician.

Cain, 59, who is seeking a third term, acknowledged that he was the first of the three incumbents to embrace the idea of a ticket.

"I saw it as being helpful to get support from Lois' people and Nick's people," he said. "I can't be independent if I lose. I'll be just another outsider."

D'Adamo, 41, a council member since 1987, said it took him several years to realize that his generally pro-business orientation can complement Cain's preservationist instincts.

"We realize we both had the district's interests at heart," he said.

Krysiak -- whose mother, Carolyn, is a state delegate and whose father, Charles, is a former delegate -- dismisses the significance of the Cain-D'Adamo detente.

"I run into a lot of John Cain supporters who are offended that he's running with D'Adamo and vice versa," he said.

Krysiak -- who has run campaign ads headlined "Needed: 9 More Votes!" -- said the two councilmen's "antics are a joke in City Hall" and hurt the district's credibility and effectiveness.

"They'll work together for self-preservation, not for the district," said Krysiak, the fleet manager for Potts & Callahan contractors, who turns 34 Friday. Among the other challengers in the 1st, James Ward Morrow, 35, has taken a leave of absence from his job as a prosecutor in the felony drug unit of the city state's attorney's office to run a race that highlights his courtroom experience.

"I'm probably one of the only people running who's actually been doing something about crime," said Morrow, who wants to hire more prosecutors.

Morrow also cites his experience in community revitalization as a board member of the Southeast Community Organization and representative to its economic development arm.

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