Councilwoman says skills offset experience

Challenger: Lisa Joi Stancil

August 25, 2002|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

City Councilwoman Lisa Joi Stancil says that when she was a teen-ager she always tried to stay ahead of her peers. So she frequently asked her father - an attorney - to teach her the law.

"I've always been that way," said the 39-year-old lawyer, explaining why she now wants to be the city's top prosecutor despite not having a wealth of experience in the field.

Stancil has never taken a case before a jury.

"I don't think it matters how many murder trials you've done," Stancil said. "Not having done a murder trial doesn't mean I can't make sure the prosecutors handling the cases don't dot their i's and cross their t's."

One of her political advisers is consultant Julius Henson, who also worked on her 3rd District City Council campaign. "I have great hope for young people like Lisa Stancil who don't come from a political class," he said. "We need to get rid of the political class - all the people who have been in office for a while and have done nothing."

Stancil, who is single, grew up in Baltimore and attended public and private schools. She graduated from Central Missouri State University in 1985, and worked as a technical writer and a college recruiter for five years before going to law school.

She graduated in 1993 from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. The next year she became an assistant state's attorney in Baltimore, working for two years in District Court.

She began work as a lawyer for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City in 1996, resigning in 1999 when she ran for City Council. After winning, she began a full-time private practice, handling mostly criminal law.

Stancil said she is running a well-organized campaign for state's attorney, though she has not yet turned in the campaign finance report, due two weeks ago, to the Board of Elections. She blamed computer problems.

Stancil said she doesn't believe people always need to follow a conventional path. "When you have the skills and the confidence, you don't listen to people who tell you that you have to pay dues," she said. "Look at [Robert F.] Kennedy; he became the United States attorney general right out of law school."

In fact, Kennedy was appointed attorney general in 1961 by his brother, President John F. Kennedy, nine years after he graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law. Before that, he was chief counsel for two Senate subcommittees.

Stancil listed two major council issues she has worked on: an unsuccessful push to have Police Chief Edward T. Norris open his personnel file when he was appointed in 2000, and a proposal, which has not passed committee, that would restrict how fast officers can drive during emergencies.

Stancil said one of her strengths as a councilwoman is her ability to question legislation. "If I raise a question on a legislation, people know it's for a good reason," she said. "I catch things. I am very thorough."

If elected, Stancil said, she would explore the option of sending violent criminals to out-of-state prisons to add to their punishment by separating them from their families. She also wants an audit of the office.

"We have to make sure the climate changes," she said. "We have to restore the trust and confidence in the office so people know they can't commit a murder and get away with it."

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