City Council returns with most change in 12 years


Baltimore City Council will return for the final three months of its four-year tenure tonight with the fate of three members significantly altered by the September Democratic primary.

Northeast City Councilman Martin O'Malley won the Democratic primary for mayor in an effort to succeed Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke in December. West Baltimore City Councilwoman Sheila Dixon won the party's nomination to meet the Republican challenger for the seat held by City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III.

Bell will be stepping down in December after his unsuccessful mayoral bid.

With Democratic voters outnumbering Republicans in the city 9-1, O'Malley and Dixon are considered heavy favorites to win the Nov. 2 general election.

O'Malley faces Republican newcomer David F. Tufaro, while Dixon is being challenged by GOP novice Antonio W. Campbell.

In addition to O'Malley and Bell leaving the council, Northeast City Councilwoman Rita Church and East Baltimore Councilman Robert L. Douglass will retire in December.

Fourteen council incumbents won re-election and will be joined by four new members to be decided in the election.

Council members don't face a heavy plate of issues. The next three months will be used to wrap up legislation before the new council takes over Dec. 9.

Among the issues topping the council agenda is deleting obsolete language from the city zoning and health ordinances.

The council will also discuss creating a committee to address small-business concerns. With the city's manufacturing decline, most city jobs are generated through small-business development. Northwest Baltimore City Councilwoman Helen Holton has suggested that the committee help spur new small businesses.

Despite the distraction of the biggest changes in city government in 12 years, Dixon said the council must focus on business.

"We still have issues to deal with in our district," Dixon said. "It does not mean that government is going to stop."

Pub Date: 9/27/99

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