Civic activist plans to run for House of Delegates Filing could be first in District 13A

June 14, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

Democrat Pearline Atkinson-Stewart, a longtime civic activist and resident of Owen Brown in Columbia, plans to file for the House of Delegates this week.

"I'm a widow, grandmother and all the rest," said Ms. Atkinson-Stewart, 56. "It's time for me to do what I want to do -- go on in the political process."

A 17-year veteran of county government -- she is an administrative assistant in the Department of Public Works -- Ms. Atkinson-Stewart serves on the local Democratic Central Committee and is a former vice-chairman of the Columbia Council.

Although she will not officially announce her candidacy until her September fund-raiser, Ms. Atkinson-Stewart is expected to be the first candidate from either party to file for election in District 13A.

The district was redrawn for the 1994 election and will have two delegates rather than one as in the past. Two incumbents, Republican Martin G. Madden and Democrat Virginia M. Thomas reside in the district, but have not indicated yet whether they will seek re-election or run for a different office.

Ms. Atkinson-Stewart said she is filing now because she "got tired of waiting for people to decide what they're going to do." She said is putting off her official announcement until September because it is difficult to get people together during the summer.

"That doesn't mean I won't be campaigning before then," Ms. Atkinson-Stewart said. "As a people person, I intend to walk informally door to door and do a lot of telephone calling. People want to talk to the candidate. I want them to know that I am reachable and that people can ask me their questions directly."

Initially, Ms. Atkinson-Stewart had thought she might run for the County Council seat being surrendered by Council Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass, D-1st. Ms. Pendergrass plans to run for a different office in 1994.

"I didn't do any official polling, but I held a couple of meetings and asked many in the community what they thought I should do," Ms. Atkinson-Stewart said.

"They were very, very encouraging for the delegate seat. They said, 'You know how to work with people, and in Annapolis, you need to work with people and still get what you need.' "

Ms. Atkinson-Stewart says that if elected she will work to assure that state education money continues to be funneled into the county, that crime is addressed on a regional basis since much of it is "passing through" the county, that women's issues are addressed -- particularly the domestic violence center, and that there is no reduction in the funding for Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome programs.

"I am someone who as demonstrated a caring concern for people," she said. "I have been working in the community as an activist for over 20 years. The delegate seat is a natural progression for me because most issues end up in the House and the major decisions about funding are made there. I want to see that we get our fair share for projects in Howard County."

The addition of a second seat in the district will attract a large field of candidates in the September 1994 Democratic primary, Ms. Atkinson-Stewart believes. She estimates successful candidates will have to spend at least $40,000 to $50,000 on their campaigns.

"You can spend a fortune on other things, but door-to-door, that's what people will remember," Ms. Atkinson-Steward said. "I've got to get a good pair of walking shoes."

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