Council elects replacement for Gaddy

Community activist wins 2nd District post

November 06, 2001|By Gady A. Epstein | Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF

The City Council elected a member last night to replace the late Bea Gaddy, choosing from the ranks of an East Baltimore political organization that insiders say essentially dictated the choice.

The official selection of Pamela V. Carter, a community activist and member of the Eastside Democratic Organization, ends a month of speculation in which the only suspense was whom the political organization would handpick for Gaddy's seat.

"Thank you for having confidence in me and faith in me, and I will not let you down," Carter said in her first remarks in the City Council chamber, moments after being sworn in by Mayor Martin O'Malley. Carter, who turns 48 tomorrow, is to serve the remainder of Gaddy's five-year term, until 2004.

Carter is a past candidate for City Council and a former two-term member of the state Democratic Central Committee who has worked in several politically related jobs - including as an administrative assistant for O'Malley when he started out as a 3rd District councilman a decade ago. She is director of a Healthy Start center in the Middle East neighborhood.

"She's a very good person, has a very good heart, and I think will work very, very hard for all of the people in her district," O'Malley said last night.

Twelve candidates were interviewed for the job Oct. 30 in a hearing conducted by the other two 2nd District council members, Democrats Paula Johnson Branch and Bernard C. "Jack" Young, who were charged with making a recommendation to the full council. Among the candidates was Sandra E. Briggs, the eldest daughter of Gaddy. Gaddy died Oct. 3.

"Pamela Carter has the qualifications that we're looking for," Young said yesterday. "Team player, someone who knows East Baltimore. The most impressive thing about her to me is she has a knack of relating to people."

Branch and Young are members of the EDO, a political organization led by state Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, who sat next to Carter as she was elected.

Young said members of the EDO spoke to him and "highlighted Pam's experience and credentials," but he said that he and Branch made the choice on their own, reaching a decision "Friday night and Saturday."

But McFadden said that the EDO, with Branch and Young on board, made the pick "a couple weeks ago."

"It's very simple. If you stay united, you can maximize your strength," McFadden said of the EDO's influence on the choice. "It's something in the African-American tradition about staying together as family. This is family."

The choice is certain to upset residents of the 2nd District who don't live in East Baltimore or don't feel represented by the EDO. Several candidates who interviewed urged Branch and Young to choose a candidate who would broaden representation of the district, which stretches from Guilford on the north to downtown, and from Bolton Hill on the west to Edison Highway.

"Only time will tell whether or not she will truly be a representative for the entire district, and not just East Baltimore," said Anthony W. McCarthy, associate publisher of the Baltimore Times, a resident of Mount Vernon and one of the 12 who interviewed for the seat.

"I think that the process has re-energized the entire 2nd Councilmanic District, and that people ... are really going to demand to be represented by all three City Council persons, so I'm hoping that Miss Carter will reach out to the other side of the district."

Carter addressed those concerns in her opening speech, saying that she intends to attend as many community meetings throughout the district as possible. "I represent the whole district," she said. "I am a decent human being. Give me a chance, and let me work with everyone."

McFadden defended the EDO's ability to represent the district. "We wouldn't be in existence this long, we wouldn't hold as many offices as we hold, if we were not responsive to the people," he said. "We have a huge tent in the EDO."

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