Wanda Hurt joins race in District 13A

January 12, 1994|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

Wanda Hurt doesn't place much faith in astrology, but she couldn't help finding some significance in the horoscope for her 51st birthday yesterday, the day she chose to announce her candidacy for the state House of Delegates.

The horoscope advised that it was time to convince friends that she would go through with a project and wouldn't back down, Ms. Hurt, a Columbia resident and District 13A Democratic candidate, told a group of campaign supporters at the Foundry Street Gallery at the Owen Brown Village Center.

"This is the big step," she said. "I filed in October, but it didn't seem like a reality. Today I go in front of God and everybody to say I am a candidate for the House of Delegates. It's a reality."

Ms. Hurt stressed battling crime and improving the state's health care and welfare systems during her brief announcement yesterday.

The state legislature would be a big jump for Ms. Hurt, who has never held an elected political office.

She was elected and currently serves as vice chairwoman of the Owen Brown village board, a homeowners association in Columbia. She said she wants to work on state laws that "have the most effect over our daily lives."

Columbia resident Frank S. Turner, a Democrat, is the only other candidate who has filed for District 13A, a two-member district including east Columbia, Scaggsville, Fulton, Highland, Savage and Guilford, under the new district boundaries that take effect for this year's elections.

Columbia Democrat Pearl Atkinson Stewart and Scaggsville Republican Michael Grasso have announced their candidacies and formed campaign committees.

District 13A incumbent Del. Virginia M. Thomas, a Democrat, said Monday she hasn't decided what office she will seek.

Del. Martin G. Madden, a District 13B Republican, has been redistricted into District 13A. He said he doesn't intend to announce his political plans until after the General Assembly session ends in April.

Learning to compromise

Ms. Hurt said she has worked as a citizens advocate, or "free lobbyist," in Annapolis for the last three years on citizens committees advocating health care and pro-abortion legislation. She said she has learned to work behind the scenes with legislators to make the compromises necessary to enact laws.

"You have to know how to work with other people," she said. "If you go down as a prima donna and try to hammer through what you want, it's not going to happen.

"I won't walk in totally naive. That's an advantage I have."

In an interview, Ms. Hurt said she would advocate state financial support to upgrade aging schools, stricter licensing and training procedures for gun purchasers, reforms of the prison parole and welfare systems, and development of a more comprehensive and efficient long-term health care system for the elderly or ill.

She said parole review procedures should be more open to the public, and tougher penalties should be imposed for convicts violating parole.

Unsafe streets

"We're letting violent people back on the streets," said the Kansas native who has lived in Columbia since 1982. "People don't know who they are, or when they're released. People aren't feeling safe on the streets. I'm also for keeping most violent offenders off the street. I believe most violent offenders can't be rehabilitated."

She said she advocates welfare reform that would allow recipients to continue receiving reduced benefits, including child care and medical assistance, after they find a job. The benefits should be eliminated as the recipient gains more training and a higher salary, she said.

"Welfare should be a safety net if the family needs it, but it shouldn't become a lifestyle," she said.

Ms. Hurt is a member of the statewide Health Care for All Coalition, and has worked for several state pro-abortion organizations that fought for legislation protecting abortion rights.

She is president of the Columbia Democratic Club and previously was active on the Howard County Arts Council and Dasher Green Elementary School PTA.

She has worked professionally as a financial planner in Colorado and as a watercolor artist. She has seven children.

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