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Southern Exposure

10th District incumbent faces yet another contested re-election

Photo: msa.md.gov, License: N/A

msa.md.gov

Reisinger

Photo: courtesy the candidate, License: N/A

courtesy the candidate

White

Photo: courtesy the candidate, License: N/A, Created: 2010:07:12 21:16:24

courtesy the candidate

Marker


“It’s never been easy for me,” 61-year-old City Councilmember Edward Reisinger (D-10th District) says of his electoral outings over the past 20 years. “I’m not crying to you about it or anything. I’m just saying that’s how it is.”

It’s understandable that Reisinger would see it that way. In 2007, he won with 42 percent of the vote in a four-way primary, spending more than $100,000 to beat out his closest competitor by a mere 479 votes. The 2003 primary, when he also faced three challengers, was even tighter; Reisinger won by only 124 votes. Prior to that, he represented a three-member district, and came in third twice—in 1995 and 1999—after losing, in 1991, a seat he’d taken by appointment in 1990.

Though he chairs the powerful Land Use Committee and serves as the Council’s vice president, lobbying votes for the mayor’s bills, elections seem always to be a struggle for Reisinger. But he has eked out victories almost every time. “I never take anybody for granted,” he says. “No matter who [your challengers] are, you’ve got to run hard.”

The 10th District’s newly redrawn boundaries take in the city’s southern reaches; about half of its residents are African-American, about 40 percent are white, and most of the remaining are Asian or Hispanic. It includes communities along the Patapsco River waterfront from Hawkins Point west to Westport, then inland to Violetville, taking in Pigtown to the north. But it no longer includes any of the South Baltimore and Locust Point precincts that it used to have—a change that may make things a bit easier for Reisinger.

In 2007, Reisinger found eight precincts in Locust Point and South Baltimore difficult to win. His closest competitor, Terry Hickey, won four of those precincts to Reisinger’s three, and they tied in the other. This year, those eight precincts are now in the 11th District, and the 10th picked up new precincts in Pigtown, Violetville, and Gwynns Falls—areas that, like Reisinger himself, are decidedly less yuppified than the communities of Locust Point and South Baltimore.

As Reisinger, a Morrell Park resident, puts it: “Violetville is basically the same as Morrell Park.” Based on the 2007 primary results, the two neighborhoods have more than 600 votes up for grabs, about a fifth of the total in the new district’s precincts.

This year, the veteran South Baltimore pol is facing two Democratic challengers in the Sept. 13 primary, both of them lawyers. Bill Marker, a 60-year-old Pigtown resident and Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation attorney, is a longtime activist on behalf of the Democratic Party.

Erica White, a 38-year-old Cherry Hill resident, has worked as an attorney since 2007, mostly defending people charged with drug-related and violent crimes, though she also does divorce and child-custody cases, according to online court records.

Adam Van Bavel, a 32-year-old restaurant worker, initially filed to run as an independent candidate in the Nov. 8 general election, but failed to collect enough signatures to have his name printed on the ballot; instead, he filed Aug. 3 as a write-in candidate.

Marker doesn’t hesitate when asked why he’s running to take Reisinger’s seat: “Because I will make a great councilman,” he says. “I’m committed to doing good government and will be a great improvement in the representation of the new 10th District.” Pointing out that “the incumbent has won by plurality, not by majority, in the last two elections,” Marker says he’ll “let the numbers speak for themselves” in terms of how well Reisinger represents the district’s voters.

Asked if he thinks he stands a better chance of winning this time than in his previous attempts, Marker—who ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 1987 and 2003 and for the Maryland House of Delegates in 1982 and 2002—says, “Oh, yeah. I think I’m really in the game.”

Marker’s signature issue—a fair, uniform, statewide property-tax rate—is not primarily a city issue, since it would involve changing the state’s laws. But he points out that Baltimore City’s high property taxes are a live issue this election season, and that virtually any change will require state-enabling legislation. He claims his plan, in which there is one statewide rate and the revenues are divvied up based on each jurisdiction’s population, would produce greater revenues not only for Baltimore City, but for most of the state’s counties—with some key exceptions, such as Montgomery, Howard, and Frederick counties.

Attempts to interview White for this article were unsuccessful, though she did e-mail a flier that spells out her selling points on the campaign trail. It lists four issues, stated as declarations— “Create Jobs,” “Improve Education,” “Improve Housing,” and “Clean up the Patapsco River” —and touts her education and experience as an attorney.

Reisinger says he’s known Marker for “10 or 12 years,” and notes that “I will give it to Bill Marker—I see him at community meetings, walking with Citizens on Patrol,” the neighborhood program that helps police fight crime. As for White, Reisinger says, “I never met the woman.” Noting that she lists a Cherry Hill address, he adds, “I’ve talked to some of the residents there, and they’ve never heard of her, either.”

If he’s re-elected, Reisinger says, “I want to stay chairman of Land Use, and I like being vice president. My main objectives are jobs, public safety, and education, but constituent work is the norm—I’m proud of my constituent work.” Thanks to being Land Use chairman, Reisinger says he’s “worked with the developers and the community on projects that bring revenue and jobs, and people need jobs, not just in my district, but around the city.”

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