Hattery Seeks Recognition In Battle Against Byron

Hopes Disenchantedvoters Want New Leader

February 12, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

Frederick County delegate Thomas H. Hattery wants to be a congressman.

He's been in the state legislature for nine years, giving him atrack record on the issues. He has experience as a businessman and farmer and the youth and energy to wage a forceful campaign.

He also has a primary opponent who has represented the district where he's running -- the 6th -- for 13 years, which means she has name recognition and a larger campaign fund.

But Hattery, a Democrat from Mount Airy, is giving it a try -- for the second time.

In the1980 primary, he and four other Democrats ran against Beverly B. Byron of Frederick. She won in every county; Hattery finished a distant second.

This year will be different, his supporters say. Voters are disenchanted with Byron, considered a conservative Democrat, and want new leadership.

But first the voters need to know who Hattery is. In Carroll, volunteers are making calls, mailing literature and talking him up, said Ellen Leahy Willis of Westminster, who is chairinghis cam

paign in the county.

Fifty-five to 65 volunteers are calling about 600 county residents who voted in the last two Democratic primaries, she said.

"People are saying, 'We think it's time fora change. Who is Delegate Hattery? Tell us something about him,' " Willis said.

Hattery, 38, owns a newsletter publishing company and cattle farm. He was elected to the state legislature in 1983, and serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, the group that deals with state and local tax issues.

He is the House deputy majority whip, chairman of a transportation subcommittee and member of the Maryland Advisory Council for Individuals with Disabilities.

Hattery was a prime sponsor of legislation that passed in 1988 to lower the blood-alcohol level required for a drunken-driving conviction from .13 percent to .10 percent. He was a prime sponsor of a bill that passed in 1985 to require immediate police action when a child is reported missing.

He supported a sales tax exemption for Parent-Teacher Associations, solar energy use in state-funded buildings and agriculture land-preservation programs.

Maryland Business for Responsive Government, a group that tracks legislators' votes on business issues, gave Hattery a 48 percent cumulative rating for the 1991 legislative session.The rating means Hattery agreed with the group's position on selected issues almost half the time.

Hattery said he's running for Congress because Byron doesn't represent "the average everyday working people of this district."

He supports a tax cut for the middle class -- which he said includes families who earn $100,000 to $125,000 a year -- but said he couldn't give a specific amount for the cut.

"Weneed fairness back in the system," he said.

He proposed to cut health-care costs by standardizing insurance company forms. The savingscould pay for health care for all uninsured Americans, he said.

To stimulate the economy, the legislator said the government should provide loan guarantees for small- and medium-sized businesses, providea venture capital fund for new businesses and tax incentives for entrepreneurs.

Government should help put U.S. companies on "an even playing field" with foreign businesses, he said.

Government also should build schools, roads and other public works projects now -- "anything we can do to put people back to work."

"You can get great bargains for the taxpayers and help the economy," he said.

Hattery's colleagues describe him as a good listener and hard worker.

"He's very thoughtful and he does his homework," said Delegate Gene W. Counihan, D-Montgomery, vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. "He tries to bring people together to build a consensus."

DelegateJames C. Rosapepe, D-Prince George's, also a Ways and Means member, said, "He's one of the best in the House at gauging people's opinions. A lot of politicians are heavy on the talking and light on the listening. He's heavy on the listening."

Willis, who worked in Hattery's Annapolis office in 1989, said, "What I saw was a man who was veryhard-working and had a tremendous amount of personal integrity.

"He's a very simple type of person. He's not impressed by possessions or trappings. He tends to be somewhat rumpled and intellectual."

Hattery's wife, Debbie, is a nurse manager at Frederick Memorial Hospital. They have two children -- Nora, 12, and David, 10.

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