Former Takoma Park mayor Stephen Joseph Del Giudice passed away last week following a year-long bout with leukemia.
The city announced that Del Giudice died surrounded by family members early in the morning of Thursday Dec. 17, 2015.
“Steve was one of the people most responsible for unifying Takoma Park into one county,” said former mayor Kathy Porter, who served 1997 to 2007.
Del Giudice was elected Takoma Park mayor November 1985.
A November 5, 1985 New York Times article about Takoma Park’s then up-coming election noted that Del Giudice was 34 at the time and was running as a moderate against incumbent mayor and activist firebrand Sam Abbott, then aged 77. According to the article Del Giudice felt Mayor Abbott was too confrontational and too concerned with national rather than local issues. The article described the candidates’ disagreement over the city’s nuclear-free zone ordinance, ushered in by Abbott in 1983. The ordinance banned the city from purchasing goods or services from companies involved in making nuclear weapons. Del Giudice wanted to temper the ordinance waiving the ban if an adequate product from a non-nuclear weapons producer could not be found.
That waiver became part of the nuclear-free zone ordinance. Del Giudice won re-election in 1987 and again in 1989.
Mayor Del Giudice resigned mid-term to be sworn in as a Prince George’s County Councilmember, November 1990, where he served for eight years. The city straddled the Montgomery and Prince George’s county borders at the time. Del Giudice resided in the Prince George’s side.
“As a county councilmember in Prince George’s county, he managed to persuade his fellow councilmembers not to oppose Takoma Park unification, which removed a major barrier to the process,” said Porter.
“Until that time,” said Porter,” the Prince George’s council had always opposed unification, because they saw it as a loss of tax base as well as slight to the county. The opposition of the county council was cited by Prince George’s legislators as a major reason for their opposition to unification.”
Once the county council, with Del Giudice’s help, dropped their opposition, unification advocates still had to lobby the Prince George’s legislators, “but they were more willing to listen to us,” said Porter.
“That got the unification process rolling again after several years of no progress and turned out to be the final push that led to success,” said Porter.
After much lobbying, a state-sponsored unification referendum was placed on the ballot in November 1995. It passed and the city was unified in Montgomery County July 1, 1997.
“Its also worth noting,” said Porter, “that Steve’s election to the county council in 1990 was the first successful write-in campaign in Maryland for an office above the municipal level.” Porter worked on that campaign for Del Giudice.
“He ran in the Democratic primary against the incumbent Tony Cicoria and lost, even though Cicoria had been indicted for campaign fraud. Between the primary and the general election, Cicoria was convicted and became ineligible to hold elected office, although his name remained on the ballot.”
With only a few weeks before the election, Del Giudice ran a write-in campaign against Cicoria and a Republican candidate.
“I worked on that campaign (as well as Steve’s primary campaign) and remember passing out pencils on election day and doing ‘sidewalk seminars’ showing people how to write in a candidate. Steve won with about 70 percent of the vote,” said Porter.
Takoma Park’s obituary announcement notes that Del Giudice was originally from Providence RI, and most recently was a resident of Washington DC. He is survived by his wife Sheila Driscoll, his children Cara Lingle and Nicholas Del Giudice, his son-in-law Bryan Lingle, his grandchildren Colton and Grayson Lingle and his brothers, Peter, Dante, Michael and Joseph Del Giudice.