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Thomas D'Alesandro III

Thomas Ludwig John D'Alesandro III (July 24, 1929 – October 20, 2019) was an American attorney and politician who served as the 43rd mayor of Baltimore from 1967 to 1971.[1] He was the eldest brother of Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi,[2] and a son of former Baltimore mayor Thomas D'Alesandro Jr., who served from 1947 to 1959.[1] The Baltimore riot of 1968 occurred during his tenure as mayor.[3]

Thomas D'Alesandro III
1d'alesandro.jpg
43rd Mayor of Baltimore
In office
January 1, 1967 – January 1, 1971
Preceded byTheodore McKeldin
Succeeded byWilliam Donald Schaefer
Personal details
Born
Thomas Ludwig John D'Alesandro III

(1929-07-24)July 24, 1929
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
DiedOctober 20, 2019(2019-10-20) (aged 90)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)
Margie Piracci (m. 1952)
RelationsNancy Pelosi (sister)
Children5
ParentsThomas D'Alesandro Jr.
Annunciata Lombardi
EducationLoyola University Maryland (BA)
University of Maryland, Baltimore (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1952–1955

Early lifeEdit

D'Alesandro was born in Baltimore, to Annunciata (née Lombardi) and Thomas J. D'Alesandro Jr.[3] He was the oldest of six children, of whom his youngest sister Nancy Pelosi would become the first female Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.[3] He attended Loyola College in Baltimore and studied law at the University of Maryland School of Law.[1][4]

In 1952, he married Margaret "Margie" Piracci at the Baltimore Basilica; more than 5,000 people attended the wedding.[5] He served in the United States Army from 1952 to 1955.[3]

Political careerEdit

After military service, D'Alesandro entered into politics, becoming president of the Baltimore City Council in 1963.[1] As City Council president, he worked with Mayor Theodore McKeldin, a liberal Republican, to eliminate racial barriers in employment, education and other areas.[6]

Mayor of BaltimoreEdit

D'Alesandro ran for mayor in 1967 as a Democrat and easily defeated Republican challenger Arthur W. Sherwood, winning all 555 of the city's precincts.[7][8]

As Baltimore's 43rd mayor, he opened new schools, built a new police headquarters and pushed for open housing.[6] D'Alesandro got Baltimoreans to approve an $80 million bond issue to build schools.[6] He devised summer recreation programs for the city's youth, such as mobile pools and day camps, and also laid legislative groundwork for the Inner Harbor development.[6]

D'Alesandro's one term as mayor was dominated by civil unrest and budgetary troubles.[1] In 1968 D'Alesandro ordered the relocation of the East-West Expressway, unstarted since 1941, to be rerouted through the Western Cemetery, then cancelled the project.[9] He later implemented a HUD program to finance 475 of the vacant homes abandoned after they were previously condemned to create "homes for the poor".[10] The homes were demolished in 1974, with The Rouse Company creditors abandoning the project.[10][11]

Just four months after D'Alesandro's inauguration, the Baltimore riot of 1968 erupted after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew called National Guard troops in to control the situation.[12]

D'Alesandro, who took office vowing to "root out every cause or vestige of discrimination", remained proud throughout his life of his progressive record on civil rights.[13] As mayor, he appointed multiple African-Americans to his administration, some of them, such as George Russell Jr., the city solicitor and member of the Board of Estimates, the first African Americans to hold those positions.[6]

In 1971, D'Alesandro stepped down as mayor and retired from politics and went into private law practice.[4][3] Years later, D'Alesandro insisted that the riots were not the reason that he walked away from politics.[7] He said that the reason was simply that he had five children and his mayoral salary was not sufficient for him to support his family.[7]

In 1998, Jack Eddinger, D'Alesandro's former press secretary, wrote in The Baltimore Sun that "Tommy D'Alesandro was Baltimore's first modern mayor. He not only presided over its emergence as a Renaissance City that it is today, but he gave it unmatched leadership. Much of what other mayors get credit for began in those tumultuous four years, from urban design and labor law reform to streamlined governmental administration and the flowering of the vital alliance between the city and the Greater Baltimore Committee".[14]

DeathEdit

D'Alesandro died after complications from a stroke at his home in North Baltimore on October 20, 2019, at the age of 90.[6]

His sister Nancy Pelosi said upon his death: "Tommy dedicated his life to our city. A champion of civil rights, he worked tirelessly for all who called Baltimore home. Tommy was a leader of dignity, compassion and extraordinary courage, whose presence radiated hope upon our city during times of struggle and conflict".[15]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e Holli, Melvin G. (1981). Biographical Dictionary of American Mayors, 1820–1980. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. OCLC 164919589.
  2. ^ "Biography". Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. U.S. House of Representatives. September 23, 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Padilla, Mariel; Zaveri, Mihir (October 20, 2019). "Thomas D'Alesandro III, Nancy Pelosi's Brother, Dies at 90". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Barnes, Bart (October 20, 2019). "Thomas D'Alesandro III, Maryland political prince who gave up the throne, dies at 90". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ Tkacik, Christina (June 8, 2017). "65 years ago, Tommy and Margie got married in Baltimore's own royal wedding". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Marbella, Jean; Broadwater, Luke (October 20, 2019). "Former Baltimore Mayor Thomas 'Young Tommy' D'Alesandro III, brother of Nancy Pelosi, dies at 90". The Baltimore Sun.
  7. ^ a b c O'Mara, Richard (April 4, 1998). "For 30 years, people have wondered how Tommy D'Alesando III, a born winner, could walk away from politics. It wasn't the '68 riot, he insists". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
  8. ^ Olesker, Michael (October 25, 2018). "Recalling Old Times with Tommy the Younger". JMORE. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  9. ^ McCarthy, Michael P. (April 8, 1998). "Cross-town expressway had saving graces for inner city". The Baltimore Sun.
  10. ^ a b Elfenbein, Jessica; Hollowak, Thomas L.; Nix, Elizabeth. Baltimore '68 : Riots and Rebirth in an American City. p. 62.
  11. ^ "Governor O'Malley Breaks Ground on Removal of West Baltimore's 'Highway to Nowhere'". Office of Governor Martin O'Malley. September 10, 2010. Archived from the original on April 26, 2014. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  12. ^ D'Alesandro III, Thomas (April 7, 2008). "Former Baltimore Mayor Looks Back". NPR (Interview). Interviewed by Michel Martin. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  13. ^ Coleman, Justine (October 20, 2019). "Thomas D'Alesandro III, brother of Nancy Pelosi, dies at 90". The Hill.
  14. ^ Eddinger, John W. (April 19, 1998). "Tommy D'Alesandro was Baltimore's first modern mayor". The Baltimore Sun.
  15. ^ "Pelosi Statement on the Passing of Thomas D'Alesandro III". Office of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. October 20, 2019.
Political offices
Preceded by
Theodore McKeldin
Mayor of Baltimore
1967–1971
Succeeded by
William Schaefer