Oliver campaign manager quits over Bartenfelder endorsement

Balto. Co. Council member chose Bartenfelder over longtime ally's objections

August 24, 2010|By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore County Councilman Kenneth N. Oliver's endorsement of Joseph Bartenfelder over Kevin Kamenetz in the race for county executive has cost him his campaign manager and chairman, who quit when a disagreement about the decision came to a head earlier this month.

Billy Chase, an Owings Mills lawyer who managed both of Oliver's previous campaigns, said he and Oliver had talked about the endorsement several times, and when Oliver made it clear he had made up his mind, Chase handed over his resignation on Aug. 13.

"My position was he needed to stay neutral," said Chase, although he acknowledged that he would not have quit if Oliver had endorsed Kamenetz, who has served alongside Bartenfelder on the council since 1994. As Oliver is in what he called a "tight race" for re-election himself, Chase thought there was little to be gained by an endorsement in the Democratic primary, and something to lose by alienating potential voters in an area where Kamenetz has strong support adjacent to his own district.

Before redistricting created the minority District 4 in 2002, Kamenetz represented part of that area. He is also backed by the area's popular state senator, Delores G. Kelley.

"He and I had a difference of opinion," Oliver said of Chase, with whom he served on the Planning Board in the 1990s. "He didn't like my idea, I didn't like his idea. We parted and we're still friends."

The endorsement gives Bartenfelder, a County Council member from the east side of the county, a boost in Kamenetz's home west side. Kamenetz has won key political endorsements on the east side, including council members John Olszewski Sr. and Vincent Gardina.

"I think Joe Bartenfelder is a better person for the job," said Oliver, who made his endorsement public last week and will formally announce it at a news conference Wednesday. "I look at a person's record, what they've done for the community. I didn't see anything Kevin Kamenetz has done for this community."

He specifically mentioned Bartenfelder's support for construction of the Randallstown Community Center. He acknowledged that Kamenetz supported it as well, but added "he supported it and he also took credit for it. [Bartenfelder] never takes credit for anything the council does. He takes credit for what he does."

Oliver is in a race with six other candidates, including Penny McCrimmon of Owings Mills, who has sought the seat before, and Leronia A. Josey of Gwynn Oak, who is backed by Kelley.

Chase's successor as campaign manager is Yvonne F. Frye of Randallstown. She declined to return messages for comment.


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