The battle in the 6th

Bartenfelder is seeking a fourth term on council

ex-Democrat Knepp pushes GOP's `can do' attitude

Maryland Votes 2006

11 Days Until Nov. 7

October 27, 2006|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN REPORTER

Rumors about Baltimore County Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder's political ambitions to become county executive have been circulating for years.

But the Fullerton Democrat, who is facing a challenge for his council seat by a lawyer, dismisses such talk, saying simply: "I'm running for re-election on the council."

Bartenfelder, who has held public office since 1982, is seeking a fourth term on the council, representing the 6th District, which includes Parkville, Essex and Middle River.

His Republican challenger is Timothy P. Knepp, a 51-year-old lawyer from Chase who ran unsuccessfully for state Senate in 1994 and for a seat in the House of Delegates in 1998. Knepp also filed as a Democratic candidate for House of Delegates in 2004, but withdrew from the race.

"I'm a Republican. Yes, I'm sure," says Knepp, who switched to the GOP after serving on the county Democratic Central Committee from 1986 to 1990.

He says he filed as a Democrat four years ago only because he believed a Republican could not be elected under the plan by former Gov. Parris N. Glendening to redraw the district boundaries. When the district was redrawn by the Court of Appeals, Knepp said he withdrew from the race.

"The Republican Party is about hard work, low taxes and good education," Knepp says. "The Republican Party has a `can do' attitude."

Knepp, who is financing his own campaign, says it is especially difficult to unseat an incumbent councilman in Baltimore County.

If elected, Knepp says he would work to fund a new school in the district and add on to existing schools. He says he would address the environment, traffic problems and other issues that could accompany the recent opening of the Route 43 extension.

"The schools are jam-packed. There's no new [school] on the agenda. All we have is new homes being built," he says. "There's insufficient planning."

Knepp, a father of two, says he would vote to eliminate the pension benefit for council members who receive the equivalent of their full salaries after 20 years - a benefit unmatched among governments in the area.

Bartenfelder, a farmer who served three terms in the House of Delegates and is finishing his third term on the council, would receive a pension of more than $40,000 annually, if he is re-elected and serves four more years. However, he has said he favors more limits on council members' pensions. He voted in 1999 to limit the pensions of county executives who have served on the County Council.

Bartenfelder was unchallenged in this year's primary and in the election four years ago.

He says he has been campaigning - going door to door, mailing campaign brochures and putting up signs - to show residents that "I still want the job." Bartenfelder had more than $170,000 in his campaign fund, according to forms filed with the state.

Bartenfelder says he is particularly pleased that Parkville has its own police precinct station and a new firehouse, that public sewer and water lines have been extended through the Back River Neck Peninsula and that the education wing has been built at the Marshy Point Nature Center, where county middle school pupils learn environmental science.

Expecting growth from the recent opening of the Route 43 extension, Bartenfelder says he denied all requests to change zoning to allow for more houses in that area. He says the county and communities in Middle River are creating a community plan to address issues associated with the growth expected to accompany the road.

"Our biggest single issue is to deal with finding a location for a new high school," says Bartenfelder, a father of four.

"You don't do things by yourself. It takes teamwork, from county government, from the community," Bartenfelder says, adding that he feels he's created a "partnership" with residents. "That's probably what I'm most proud of."

Sixth District Candidates

Name: Joseph Bartenfelder


Age: 48

Address: Fullerton

Education: Towson State University, 1978

Occupation: Farmer

Political experience: Elected to House of Delegates in 1982, served three terms; elected to Baltimore Council in 1994, has served three terms

Name: Timothy P. Knepp


Age: 51

Address: Chase

Education: University of Baltimore, 1976; University of Baltimore School of Law, 1980

Occupation: Lawyer

Political experience: Democratic Central Committee 1986 to 1990; ran for state senate in 1994, lost in the primary; ran for House of Delegates in 1998, lost in the general election

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