Fresh faces, new ideas; City Council: Republicans make a serious bid for four vacancies on 18-member legislative body.


TUESDAY'S primary election was an extraordinary day for three members of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church: Sheila Dixon won the Democratic nomination for City Council president, Joan M. Pratt was effectively re-elected as city comptroller and Catherine E. Pugh rallied to a 4th District council victory.

In a city where political talent is in short supply, these three are up-and-comers to watch.

They are ambitious, and they have the support of a powerful pastor, who also backed Martin O'Malley.

Because of vacancies, at least four new council members will be elected in the Nov. 2 general election.

In addition to Ms. Pugh, Democrats Bea Gaddy, the well-known social activist from the 2nd District, and 3rd District Democrats Lisa Joi Stancil and Kenneth Harris Sr. are likely winners.

Despite a 9-to-1 disadvantage in registration, the Republican Party has targeted two traditionally Democratic districts in November.

In the 1st, Robert N. Santoni and Michael P. McNamara will run against the incumbents, who were renominated Tuesday. Mr. Santoni, owner of an East Baltimore supermarket, should be able to mount a particularly serious campaign. He is a community activist and is certain to attract a strong cross-party vote.

In the 6th, a full slate of Republicans will try to make a dent to the Democrats' hegemony. They will face a difficult fight, even though the district's incumbents leave much to be desired.

Talking about unseating incumbent Democrats is easier than actually doing it. The last time a Republican was elected to the City Council was 60 years ago.

However, voters who want meaningful change should not limit their choices to Democrats.

Pub Date: 9/16/99

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