Council seeks a successor to Gaddy

Daughter wants job, but organization appears in control

October 31, 2001|By Gady A. Epstein | Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF

Talk about a nerve-racking job interview.

The job that's open was last held by a local hero, a revered advocate for the homeless. The people asking the questions are City Council members. And there's a widespread belief that one of the candidates already has a lock on the job.

Twelve people were interviewed at City Hall last night for the late Bea Gaddy's 2nd District City Council seat, which the council is expected to fill in the next several weeks on the recommendation of the district's other two members, Paula Johnson Branch and Bernard C. "Jack" Young.

The field includes a wide range of community activists and aspiring politicians, including Gaddy's eldest daughter, Sandra Elaine Fowler Briggs, 44, and City Council President Sheila Dixon's former chief of staff, Anthony W. McCarthy, 34, who does not appear to have Dixon's support for the job.

Political insiders believe that the selection will go to a member of the powerful Eastside Democratic Organization, which counts Branch and Young among its members. Last night, political observers speculated that the leading contender is former state Democratic Central Committee member Pamela L. Carter.

"I would like an opportunity to serve and work with you," Carter told Branch and Young and several other council members in attendance at the hearing, which was held in the City Council chamber. "We need to work together. The community needs to come together and work together."

Several other candidates who interviewed were under the impression that the selection process was weighted against non-EDO members, and a couple of the interviews grew tense.

"I'm an agitator, and [Branch and Young] need some agitation in realizing that there are some people in the community who don't have a voice and feel left out and ignored," said Clayton Guyton, 45, who lives in the Madison East End community.

Guyton was promptly interrupted by Branch, who said he wasn't addressing why he should be chosen. "I'm asking the questions," Branch said.

When Guyton tried to reply that he felt he should get the council seat precisely because of his concerns about her and Young, Branch interrupted again, saying, "If you can't answer the questions, I'll have to dismiss you."

Guyton replied: "Well, then, dismiss me. I'll see you at election time."

McCarthy and Briggs know that they are underdogs for the seat. McCarthy might be laying the groundwork for a future run for office, possibly as soon as next year's state legislative races. But Briggs puts Branch and Young in a difficult position, saying it was Gaddy's dying wish that she fill her mother's shoes on the council.

"With the Lord's help, and feeling my mother's spirit strongly from the top of my head to the tip of my toes, I can do this," Briggs said in her interview. "They are hard shoes to fill, but ... give me the chance and I'll do it."

The candidates were all short on specifics of what they would try to accomplish as council members. Almost all discussed the same list of economic, housing and crime concerns in the district, which comprises much of central Baltimore, from Bolton Hill on the west to Edison Highway on the east.

McCarthy, associate publisher of the Baltimore Times and a local radio talk-show figure, came the closest to delivering a campaign-style stump speech, and in true campaign form, he had supporters at City Hall sporting McCarthy stickers on their lapels.

"Tonight, I'm asking you to choose someone who has a spirit to serve," McCarthy said, after invoking the name of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

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