County delegates relent on voting privileges of city colleagues


After a year of resistance, Baltimore County's delegates to the General Assembly appear ready, if sometimes reluctant, to embrace regional politics.

Pushed by County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III, even several of the most recalcitrant delegates say they are ready to give a full vote in county delegation meetings to six city-based colleagues from two districts that cross the border.

The city delegates represent about 35,000 county residents -- 24,000 of them in the Pikesville portion of the 42nd District and 10,000 in Dundalk's slice of the 46th District.

Although some die-hard opponents may still vote no, proponents of full voting privileges appear to have more than a majority.

Del. John S. Arnick, a veteran Dundalk Democrat who last year led efforts to limit voting privileges for delegates from the 42nd and 46th districts, says he will "probably" support full votes. Continued opposition is "battling the inevitable," he explained.

Catonsville Democrat Thomas E. Dewberry, another opponent last year, said he will "probably, reluctantly," support full delegation votes.

Joseph "Sonny" Minnick, who was re-elected Monday as the county delegation chairman, said he also will support full votes for the city-based delegates when the General Assembly convenes in January. "I think it's right," he said.

Northwest Baltimore-Pikesville Del. Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg applauded the change of heart. "I think it's an important symbolic change," he said.

Redistricting produced five districts straddling the city-county line. County delegates elected last year allowed city-based colleagues only one-third vote each, based on the number of their county constituents.

The city delegation was more accommodating, granting full votes to county-based colleagues whose 8th and 10th districts take in tiny portions of Northeast and West Baltimore.

The other cross-border district, the 47th, is divided into subdistricts so that the lone county delegate -- Mr. Dewberry -- represents only county residents.

Many county legislators felt county interests were sacrificed in redistricting to preserve Baltimore's political influence despite the city's decline in population.

But some delegates and Mr. Ruppersberger argue that the city and county have similar interests and need to begin thinking regionally instead of parochially.

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