To environmentalists, it's clear that Philip C. Jimeno works for the environment; John R. Leopold works for himself.
That was the message delivered by a non-partisan coalition of environmental activists who gathered on the North County border yesterday across Fort Smallwood Road from Baltimore City's chemical belt.
The Maryland League of Conservation Voters, the Clean Water Action Project and the Anne Arundel County Sierra Club have endorsed state Sen.
Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park in the District 31 Senate race.
"What I heard a number of times from community leaders is that Phil Jimeno goes to community meetings, plays a role in solving problems," said John Kabler, regional director of Clean Water Action Project, a national non-profit environmental lobby.
Delegate Leopold, R-Pasadena, "goes to meetings and seems to spend more time promoting himself than solving the problems," said Kabler, an Annapolis resident.
Later in the day, Leopold responded, "An objective analysis of my environmental record would indicate my very strong support for the protection of the environment."
But "objectivity was clearly lacking" in yesterday's endorsement, Leopold said. One of the two activists who interviewed Leopold for the environmental coalition was Silver Sands resident Mary Rosso, a frequent Leopold critic and a Jimeno supporter.
The Sierra Club endorsed his re-election to House of Delegates in 1986, Leopold noted. "That shows the shallowness of that (endorsement)," he said.
Kabler said the environmental groups called the afternoon press conference at the intersection of Fort Smallwood and Fort Armistead roads to announce their endorsement because, "in 1990, the environment is trendy.
Every candidate says they support the environment. We saw as our job to sort out the truth."
Kabler said the groups interviewed the candidates, evaluated their legislative records, and consulted with neighborhood leaders before making the endorsement.
Although not an environmentalist himself, Jimeno has championed environmental causes since he was elected to the House of Delegates in 1978 and joined the chorus protesting the storage of toxic PCB oils in Curtis Bay, Kabler said.
During the 1980s, when Browning Ferris Industries wanted to expand its hazardous waste landfill on Solley Road, Jimeno helped pass legislation blocking the expansion, Kabler said.
Last spring, Jimeno worked with Sen. George W. Della, D-Baltimore, to pass a clean air bill that requires new smokestack industries in the chemical belt to conduct more intense environmental studies before the state will issue operating permits.
When the chemical industry lobbied Gov. William Donald Schaefer to veto the new clean air law, Jimeno convinced the governor the legislation was necessary, Kabler said.
On the other hand, Leopold's advocates say he brought the problems of Rock Creek to the attention of the state Department of the Environment. And when a company proposed building a asphalt plant on Marley Creek, Leopold proposed a moratorium on all construction, they say.
"Senator Jimeno and Delegate Leopold are pretty darn even on the environment as far as I can tell," said Carol Vitek, a North County activist and Leopold supporter.