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Councilman Curran files for personal bankruptcy

Longtime City Councilman Robert W. Curran filed for personal bankruptcy in June, a move he said was necessary to avoid foreclosure on his Northeast Baltimore home.

Curran, 63, said in an interview Thursday that he will repay all of his restructured debt over the next five years under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which allows individuals to keep their property while developing a plan through the court to repay some or all of the money owed on credit cards, auto loans, medical bills and other debt.

Curran said he will repay his debt "dollar for dollar."

"Just because I am in elected government doesn't mean me and my wife are immune," Curran said. "Folks file for bankruptcy. You live beyond your means sometimes. ... We're making the payments, and we're moving on with our lives."

Curran was elected to City Council in 1995 to represent District 3, which includes Hamilton, Lauraville, Original Northwood and Morgan State University. The full-time position paid about $61,000 last year.

In the bankruptcy filing, the councilman declared about $224,000 in liabilities and about $162,000 in assets.

A community leader in Curran's district said she does not believe the bankruptcy would affect the councilman's ability to serve constituents.

"I am sorry to hear this," said Naomi Benyowitz, director of the HARBEL Community Organization, which serves the Harford and Belair road corridors. "It's very common, and maybe more so now because things are so tight. The only concern I would have is a personal concern for him and his wife.

"I am sure he is very conscientious about his work and taking care of his constituents. I have every confidence he will work this out. As far as we're concerned, he has done his job magnificently."

In 2012, more than 366,000 individuals filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, according to a U.S. courts database.

Curran said the experience will make him a better councilman.

"I feel the pain that folks feel in this day and age, job losses and medical reasons," Curran said. "We're going to climb out of the hole and move forward. ... When people talk to me about taxes and fees and everything going up, I have a more clear understanding."

During his tenure, Curran spearheaded the campaign to pass a public smoking ban in Baltimore, effective in 2008. He often leads anti-animal abuse efforts and fought to open the city's towing business to more vendors.

Curran comes from a political family. He is a son of the late City Councilman J. Joseph Curran. His brother, J. Joseph Curran Jr., is a former Maryland attorney general. Another brother, the late Martin E. "Mike" Curran, also served on the City Council.

His niece, Baltimore District Judge Catherine Curran O'Malley, is married to the governor.

Curran previously worked as a foreman at Domino Sugars.

ywenger@baltsun.com

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