MOUNT AIRY — They came to suggest ways to tax the rich, complain about the high cost of health care and share their outrage about American quilts being duplicated in China.
Most of them did, anyway.
Monday night's town meeting with U.S. Rep. Beverly B. Byron, D-6th, gave 10-year-old Jessica Fitzgerald of Eldersburg time to read a book called "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More" by RoaldDahl while her parents listed to Byron.
The congresswoman didn't seem to mind. Perhaps Jessica will acquire a taste for politics when she reaches voting age.
About 30 people came to American Legion Post 191 on Prospect Road to talk to Byron, who is running in the March3 primary to retain the seat she's had for seven terms.
She facesopposition in the primary from state Del. Thomas H. Hattery, D-Frederick. One of his supporters, Mount Airy Councilman Marc Nance, questioned Byron about what she's done to improve health-care services for military personnel.
Nance's father, a 20-year Navy veteran, lives in Virginia Beach, Va., and has waited three to seven weeks to find out if he can get an appointment at the nearest military hospital and has paid $1,500 for supplemental health care, he said.
"This system is absolutely atrocious," Nance said.
A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Byron is responsible for improving the system, and she hasn't done it, he said.
"We're going to send a message toByron (in the primary) that we're just fed up," Nance said.
The congresswoman said she has worked to increase the number of doctors atmilitary hospitals and has shortened the waiting time for appointments by instituting a computerized system. She also said she is trying to contain costs at military hospitals.
"Health care is a key issue on the minds of the American public," she said.
Citizens also are thinking about taxes.
Raymond Zinck of Mount Airy suggested thatCongress eliminate tax breaks for the rich. A consultant should not be allowed to write off a fishing trip just because he took along a client, Zinck said. Large foundations also should not be tax-exempt, and deductions for the "businessman's lunch" should be eliminated, he said.
Zinck, 63, also made a suggestion that anyone who has tried to read a tax form has wished for:
"Somebody who majored in English" should write tax laws, he said.
Five quilters didn't even have to explain their anger -- Byron already knew. They are upset that theSmithsonian Institution has authorized a New York company to reproduce four American heirloom quilts -- including three from Maryland andone from Carroll -- in China. The replications will be sold in the museum gift shop, among other places.
Diann Paarmann of Sykesville said the quality of the quilts is poor. Fifty years from now, the quilts will be passed on as American heirlooms, but they won't be authentic, said Judy Elwood of Mount Airy.
The quilters said they want "Made in China" stamped on the quilts and future reproductions made inthe United States.
Byron took the women's names and promised to talk to Smithsonian officials.