Citizens Try To Woo Voters Through Their Stomachs

November 05, 1990|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

I was bribed to write this story.

Two Odenton seniors, Elva M. Craver and Martha Breeds, left a box of homemade oatmeal cookies in The Anne Arundel County Sun newsroom last week in return for plugging their candidate for the Orphans Court.

Veterans of the "Cakegate" scandal that beset Ted Sophocleus' county executive campaign in September, these residents of the Stoney Hill senior community have adopted the philosophy that the best way to win the hearts and minds of voters -- as well as reporters -- is through their stomachs.

For County Councilman Sophocleus, D-Linthicum, they baked cakes that were sold to help raise campaign money. Sophocleus' campaign treasurer last week was charged with a misdemeanor for improperly reporting their baked donations as cash contributions.

Craver and Breeds have since modified their strategy to help Janet S.

Owens, one of six candidates for the Orphans Court.

Now, it's one cookie -- one vote.

"I don't know the law well enough to know if I'm breaking it," Craver said. "So, if I am, no one put me up to this. I never asked Janet."

Elections Administrator Nancy Crawford said the over-the-Stoney Hill gang has little to fear. "There's nothing wrong with baking cookies," Crawford said. "It's like an in-kind contribution. That's how it would appear on a finance report."

But "I don't know that anybody's ever put baking cookies on a finance report," she said.

The cookie caper is their way of generating interest in the race for the Orphans Court, which hears disputes over the division of estates among heirs and supervises guardianships over minor children, Craver said. The other Orphans Court candidates are Judith Duckett, incumbent Marie Angel Durner, Joseph A. Johnson, Albert M. Johnston and Edward F. Taylor.

Craver and Breeds left a bow-bedecked box of freshly baked oatmeal and raisin cookies in The Anne Arundel County Sun newsroom Thursday. Beneath the red bow, a handwritten card read, "This is one swell 'cookie.' Elect Janet S. Owen for Orphans Court Judge." The card was signed: "Cakegate members of Stoney Hill."

Craver and Breeds also had dozens of cookies earmarked for the Capital and Gazette newspapers, they said. Over the weekend, they said they and a dozen neighbors planned to have baked thousands of oatmeal and raisin cookies and distributed them with Owens' campaign fliers at the Odenton Shopping Center.

"We're baking cookies like you wouldn't believe," Craver said. "We're up to our elbows in cookie dough."

Craver said they support Owens because she helped them during her tenure as director of the county Department on Aging. And Owens, who resigned as aging director in 1989, has emphasized the importance of educating seniors about estates, wills and living wills.

The cookies have no cholesterol, are low-sodium and contain plenty of roughage, Craver said. "Hey, we're not trying to kill anyone with our kindness," she said.

Owens said, "Under most circumstances I would have been insulted at being called a 'cookie.' But, in this case, I'm utterly delighted. That group of seniors at Stoney Hill have such a sense of humor."

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