Moxley won't seek re-election to Baltimore County Council

Host of candidates expected with 4 of 7 seats up for grabs

March 24, 2010|By By Mary Gail Hare | The Baltimore Sun

Stephen G. Samuel Moxley on Tuesday became the fourth Baltimore County councilman to say he will not seek re-election in the fall, leaving a majority of seats on the seven-member panel up for grabs.

The unusual number of open seats is expected to encourage a stampede of candidates.

"Everybody and his mother will run," said Donald F. Norris, chairman of the department of public policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. "And that includes those who ought not to run." Moxley joins Councilmen Joseph Bartenfelder and Kevin Kamenetz, who are expected to run for county executive, and Vincent J. Gardina, who plans to retire. Council Chairman John Olszewski Sr. and members Bryan McIntire and Kenneth N. Oliver each plan to campaign for another four-year term.

"The remaining three will take the others in hand," said Matthew Crenson, a retired chairman of the political science department at the Johns Hopkins University. "If they are defeated, you could have a bunch of neophytes elected and that could mean innovation or disaster."

Moxley, a fourth-term Democrat who represents Catonsville and southwestern Baltimore County, said, "There are always concerns when there is a big change. But Baltimore County has a constituency that cares about good government. They will make the right choices for the council."

Such a large turnover is unusual on the council, which has five members who have served at least four terms. With fewer incumbents to discourage challengers, analysts expect a large field of candidates for a part-time position that pays $54,000 per year.

Moxley, 50, says he is considering a run for clerk of the court, following the retirement of longtime clerk Suzanne Mensh at the end of May.

An interim clerk is to be appointed by the Circuit Court judges until a successor to Mensh is elected in the fall. Moxley said he did not apply for the interim job out of a sense of commitment to his constituents.

"I know budget deliberations are going to be extremely difficult, and I want to make sure funding is maintained, especially for capital projects," he said. "I am not going to take the politically expedient route. I won't jump ship."

An arrest in July for driving under the influence, his second in four years, has cast doubt on Moxley's political future. He was found guilty of driving while impaired by alcohol and placed on two years of supervised probation in September.

"The standard advice in these instances is to get out there in front of it right away," Crenson said. "Moxley waited too long. He should have done that after the first incident."

Moxley said he has acknowledged that he has a problem with alcohol and is addressing those issues.

"I am working through this and making progress," he said. "I have a problem, and I have sought help. I hope my actions show the progress I am making."

Most experts expect a spirited race for the clerk's job, which pays $98,500 annually. Name recognition might help Moxley, Crenson said, but only if several candidates divide the vote.

"His driving record will be front and center," Norris said. "It will give his opponent a terrific opportunity."

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