Nurse from Columbia running for House seat Democrat files for new district

November 05, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

There are no registered nurses in the House of Delegates, but Columbia resident Rosemary E. S. Mortimer expects to be there in 1994.

Ms. Mortimer, a Democrat, filed with the Howard County election board last week as a candidate in newly created District 12B. She is the first person to do so.

A registered nurse since 1973, Ms. Mortimer teaches nursing at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore and is on the faculty at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. "There are no nurses in the House of Delegates, and we're the ones who know what's going on" with health care, she said.

Becoming the Democratic Party's candidate in the 1994 general election, much less getting to Annapolis, will not be easy. Two other Democrats, former County Executive M. Elizabeth Bobo and former Democratic Central Committee Chairman James )R Kraft, plan to enter the race in the bow-shaped district extending from west Columbia to Elkridge, but they have not yet filed.

They could offer formidable opposition. Ms. Bobo, for example, has statewide name recognition and more than $20,000 in her campaign war chest already.

Ms. Mortimer is undaunted. "I'm going to win," she said. "Hopkins is giving me time to pursue my candidacy, and I have the energy -- [she put herself through nursing school while attending Boston University] -- and the support of my family. My husband and my two children are willing to have me do this."

Ms. Mortimer said that she will bring a much-needed perspective to politics -- a perspective she says is new partly because she hasn't come up through the political system.

"There is a feeling among the people that maybe the average citizen is not listened to," she said. "They want to see the average citizen back in Annapolis."

Accordingly, Ms. Mortimer has put together a campaign committee comprised of "a variety of people from different parts of the county who want to see a citizen public servant in the state legislature."

She, and they, are products of the late 1960s. "It was a time that changed us and gave us the feeling we could make changes," she said. "It is time now to get involved. By working within the system, maybe we can make the changes we foresaw back then."

Her campaign will focus on health and education, two of her fields of expertise for more than a decade. She wants to help keep Howard County in the forefront of public education and make quality health care available to everyone.

"I am not someone who gets out there and talks, I am someone who can do -- someone who lets actions speak as loudly as words," she said.

She notes with pride that her community involvement is "at the grass-roots level." Named Howard County Education Volunteer of the Year in 1992, she is chairman of the school system's health council, past president of the county PTA Council, and founder of a local chapter of a nurses' association dealing with her specialty: obstetrics and gynecology.

She also is the host on a program on the local educational channel on cable television, a member of the County Compensation Review Commission and vice president for leadership in the Maryland Congress of Parents and Teachers.

"I know how to build consensus," -- something the county will need as various groups vie for limited dollars, she said. "We as a people need to come together to make tough choices about our available monetary resources.

"One of the things I try to do is bring more and more people on board. . . . I'm part of the solution, and there are a lot more of the solution folks here in Howard County who are willing to come together and to listen to each other."

For Ms. Mortimer, her work as a member of the Adequate Facilities Commission was a paradigm of consensus-building. The commission, comprised of county officials, educators, developers and civic activists, worked more than a year to develop legislation to assure that the county would have sufficient schools and roads to accommodate its growth.

"We walked out not just in agreement, but as friends," she said.

"I can do a tremendous amount for this county. I love this county. I can make a difference and will make a difference" in Annapolis.

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