The councilmanic race in Baltimore's 2nd District features two incumbents fighting to keep their Eastside Democratic Organization's grasp on the seats and fending off jabs about underrepresentation of the district.
With Councilman Robert L. Douglass retiring, incumbents Paula Johnson Branch and Bernard C. "Jack" Young have tapped Alphonso Keith Barney, a rising figure in east-side politics, to share their ticket. Branch, 50, is seeking her third term. Young, 45, was appointed to council in 1996 after Anthony J. Ambridge stepped down.
Barney, 29, an East Baltimore native who grew up in Flag House Courts, replaced Robert R. Stokes on the ticket. Barney has been a member of the Democratic State Central Committee since last year and is a career specialist in East Baltimore.
"I have been a part of the problem for so many years, and now I want to be a part of the solution," he said.
Stokes, who remains a candidate but not part of the east-side organization, was snubbed after going against the political grain, said state Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, a Baltimore Democrat who is a member of the organization.
"He supported Lawrence Bell for mayor, and we are supporting Carl Stokes," McFadden said. "We don't want to send mixed signals to the people of Baltimore."
Barney represents "a future force of politics in East Baltimore," McFadden said.
Robert Stokes, 41, a member of the State Central Committee for the 45th Legislative District, said he was asked more than two months ago by members of the organization to run with Branch and Young for the City Council and was surprised to learn that he was not on the incumbents' team.
Last year, he ran for the central committee on the Eastside Democratic Organization's ticket with Barney, Douglass and Young.
"I felt like if I was good enough to run with them last year, what happened to this year?" he said. Regardless, Stokes said, his experience working in a mayor's neighborhood service center and on the City Council floor for Bell makes him a strong candidate. "I know the issues, and I know how to get city agencies to do things that they are supposed to be doing," he said.
Stokes and the Branch-Young-Barney ticket face some well-known names in the Democratic field, including Beatrice "Bea" Gaddy, 66, an East Baltimore advocate for the homeless, and Andre' R. Weitzman, 46, a consumer-fraud lawyer who made news recently battling house-flipping schemes.
Gaddy is making her second run for a council seat. She came close in 1991 and floated the idea of running for the state Senate in 1994. "I'm going to try very hard this time," Gaddy said. "I'm tired of being left out."
Weitzman, making his first run at political office, has spent 20 months representing victims of house-flipping schemes. He said his work with residents and housing problems would bring a new perspective to City Council.
"The devastation of neighborhoods and the indifference of the city government" are the greatest threat to the stability of city neighborhoods, Weitzman said.
Weitzman has been endorsed by the New Democratic Club, said Mike Pretl, editor of the political organization's newsletter. The New Democratic Club also has endorsed Young and Weitzman's running mate for council, Mark L. Washington, a community relations liaison at Hamilton Middle School who ran in the 1995 primary.
"Young has been a good community activist, Washington is regarded as a good community worker, and Weitzman has been fighting battles in East Baltimore," Pretl said.
Also running as a team are Ronald Mu'min Owens-Bey, 49, and Doris Minor-Terrell, 55.
Owens-Bey, a licensed social worker associate who is juvenile clerk for Baltimore Circuit Court, lost bids for the 45th District House of Delegates seat in 1986 and 1990. He also ran unsuccessfully in the 2nd District primary for City Council in 1987.
Minor-Terrell, who works for the city schools and ran unsuccessfully last year for the 45th District House of Delegates seat, said she is running to challenge the Eastside Democratic Organization's control of the district.
"I believe the machine in place has to go," Minor-Terrell said. "Nothing has happened."
Other 2nd District council candidates in the Democratic primary on Sept. 14 are: William Norris Burgee, 48, a vice president of Metropolitan Title Co., who says he wants more even representation of the district; Ertha B. Harris, 40, an operations support specialist at Allfirst Financial, who views her run as an extension of the Million Man March; Sarah Louise Matthews, 48, an adjunct professor at the Community College of Baltimore who has been a member of the Democratic State Central Committee since 1994; Joseph Patrick McCurdy, 35, an 18-year advocate and professional working with Baltimore's disabled community; and Janice L. McLean, 31, a longtime community activist making her first run for city office.
The two Republicans who will move on to the general election in November are Charlie Baskerville Jr., 58, who ran for council in 1995, and Brian D. Jones, 32, a former salesman making his first run for City Council.
Their battleground, the 2nd District, encompasses the middle of Baltimore, from Guilford on the north to the edge of downtown and from Bolton Hill on the west to Edison Highway. It contains some of the wealthiest city residents and some of the poorest.
Several Democratic candidates and residents have said they feel underrepresented by the Branch-Young ticket.
"It's my feeling that council people elected for the district should represent the entire district," said Burgee, who lives on the western side of the district.
Branch countered by saying that she and Young meet with several community organizations regularly and share work in all of the district. "This is the only thing they can lash out at," Branch said. "We represent everybody."
Throughout the district, residents say they want their council members to find a way to tackle crime and bring people back to the city, according to those who attended a forum Aug. 24 at Pleasant View Gardens in East Baltimore.
Branch said it's important for council members to get state funding for improving neighborhood safety, to get more control over the school system and to encourage businesses and developers to move into the area. "We must attack this issue on all fronts," Branch said at the forum.
Young said saving the neighborhoods starts at the schools. At the forum, Young suggested that good principals serve as mentors to new ones to strengthen the school system.
"We need to work from the bottom to the top," Young said. "If we don't reform our schools, we can talk all night about how to stop the flight from the city."
Pub Date: 9/04/99