ANOTHER OPTION FOR NOV. 2 GENERAL ELECTION:

Tony Campbell Challenges Sheila Dixon for Council Prez

by Alice Cherbonnier
       HE’S A MUSIC TEACHER, talent scout, and public relations and political consultant. Now Antonio “Tony” Campbell, 33, wants another job: that of City Council President.
       A Republican and resident of the Ednor Gardens community, he’s challenging Democratic nominee Sheila Dixon for the top Council job.
       Mr. Campbell is optimistic that a Republican can win in Baltimore in the November 2 general election, despite its overwhelming majority of registered Democrats. “It’s not impossible,” he asserts. “Only 20 percent of registered Democrats vote.”
       Ms. Dixon has ready name recognition with voters due to her 12 years as a City Council member. Mr. Campbell believes her record can work against her, if only the public recalls what she did and did not do while in office.
       “She made some bad decisions,” he charges, “like voting for the West Side development plan. My idea of economic development is to have people in Baltimore own and create wealth, pursuing the American dream. Her idea is to provide an opportunity for another developer to build another CVS or Barnes and Noble [bookstore], with low-paying jobs.”
       Ms. Dixon, he claims, “voted for everything Kurt Schmoke wanted. Now she wants to turn twelve years of followership into leadership. I’d like to ask her, ‘Where were you when the libraries closed?’”
       Mr. Campbell stresses that he doesn’t want to run a negative campaign against his opponent. “It takes less time to present a bad message than a good message, but I don’t plan to get personal with her,” he says.
       A Pittsburgh native who has lived in Baltimore since 1986, Mr. Campbell says he was inspired to a career of public service by a six-month assignment as a book tour escort for Gen. Colin Powell. “He’s a very honorable, intelligent man. I wish he’d have run for President,” says Mr. Campbell. “He has the kind of leadership we need at all levels of government.”
       If elected, he would push for improved education and job training. “That’s the next step to civil rights,” he says. “Now it’s economic education that’s the battlefield of the twenty-first century. If our kids don’t have the tools, it doesn’t matter how many quotas and set-asides the state dreams up--they’ll still be behind the eight-ball, and unable to compete.”
       The City’s projected $100 million budget deficit has Mr. Campbell concerned. “The City spends five million dollars a day,” he points out. “Economies and changes can be made. For instance, we’ve got two stadiums, and the City hardly gets any money from them. Other areas have added a dollar-a-ticket surcharge, like the MCI Center in Washington. We’ve got to look at what we’re going to do when the money is cut off in two years.”
       By mid-September, Mr. Campbell had raised $3,000 for his campaign. He didn’t have to campaign before the primary election because he was the uncontested Republican candidate. If he were to win in November, he says he would be comfortable working with either Martin O’Malley or David Tufaro, the Democratic and Republican nominees for Mayor. “We would work together to get the job done,”


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This story was published on October 6, 1999.