Republican insider is choice for delegate

Pielke, a lawyer, to succeed Kelly

January 12, 2002|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County Republicans have chosen a lawyer with decades of experience in party politics to represent Towson in this year's legislative session and attempt to hold the seat in November's election.

Emil B. Pielke, 59, has lived in Towson for 14 years and has been active in the Maryland Republican Party since the 1970 legislative session. Michelle Duffy Orr, chair of the county's Republican Central Committee, said Pielke is familiar with Annapolis and with the county's delegation.

"He'll hit the ground running," she said. "It's a non-issue in terms of getting down there and having any difficulties. He should fit right in."

Community leaders in Towson said they were unhappy with the committee's choice of someone who had been more active in the party than in community affairs.

"He has demonstrated no involvement in Towson problems or Towson situations," said Conrad Poniatowski, president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations. "All I know of him is his name. This is another classic case of a political group, be it Democratic or Republican, doing what they want to do instead of what the people they purport to represent want them to do."

Pielke has expressed interest in working on issues related to the budget, transportation and education, but he said yesterday that he's not ready to commit to specifics.

"Until I get a briefing this afternoon and Monday, it would be premature to discuss anything on my mind," he said.

Pielke takes over the seat Republican Del. James M. Kelly vacated in August when he took a job in the Bush administration. Rather than choose a permanent replacement, the county central committee nominated Kelly's wife, Melissa, to hold the seat until the governor presented new legislative district maps.

The idea was to make sure whoever served during the session would have a good chance at re-election under the new district maps in November. Pielke lives in what would be the Republican-friendly 7th District on the governor's map.

The committee chose him from a field of four finalists. Two of the others, Edwin S. MacVaugh and Francis A. Pommett III, are lawyers who have failed in previous bids for the House of Delegates. The third was Corinne D. Becker, a community activist and county government employee.

Minority Leader Alfred W. Redmer Jr. and Minority Whip James F. Ports Jr., both of whom represent Perry Hall, said they've known Pielke for years and are excited to work with him.

"We considered him a valuable member of our team, even though he didn't live in our district," Redmer said. "We look forward to expanding our relationship with him."

Several community leaders said they had been pushing for Becker because of her track record on issues important to Towson, such as opposing the expansion of the county jail.

"I haven't seen any of these four [finalists] except Corinne Becker on any issue we've had in Towson, from redistricting to the jail," said Michael P. Ertel, who lobbies the legislature for the Coalition for Open Government. "Whoever this guy is, and he might be a good guy, he's got a lot to prove for the community."

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