Independent runs for delegate in District 13A CAMPAIGN 1994

February 22, 1994|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

Columbia resident Arthur Reynolds, an Independent candidate for the House of Delegates, says he wants to offer voters an alternative to "petty partisan politics" that is "corrosive to good government."

Mr. Reynolds, 44, who was registered as a Democrat from the 1970s through the mid-1980s and ran unsuccessfully for a Howard County delegate seat as a Republican in 1990, says he is part of the "political mainstream" but doesn't carry "special-interest baggage" because of his Independent status.

"The cliche you hear is vote the person, not the party," said Mr. Reynolds, an attorney with a private civil practice in Columbia who is running in District 13A. "I bring that to the logical extension. I want people to evaluate me on the basis of what I have to offer, not on what's irrelevant. In 1994, party labels have reached the point of being irrelevant or counterproductive."

But from a practical standpoint, an Independent who doesn't have support from a party structure faces a "very, very uphill race," said Del. John S. Morgan, R-13B, who, along with Republican Del. Martin G. Madden, defeated Mr. Reynolds in 1990. Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Madden now live in District 13A under the redrawn legislative boundaries.

An Independent of "significant stature who is very well known in the community" would have better chances, but Mr. Reynolds "hasn't established himself at all," said Mr. Morgan.

"I don't know why he's running as an Independent. It detracts from his ability to win a race," he said. "He's like a Don Quixote-type figure, leaning against windmills."

But Mr. Reynolds says his confidence was boosted by responses during his door-to-door petition drive to collect signatures of registered voters he needed to qualify for the general election as an Independent. Independents don't run in primaries.

"The number of people refusing to sign because of ideology or party loyalty was negligible," said Mr. Reynolds, adding he doesn't consider himself a "protest vote" or a "spoiler."

He says partisanship is fundamentally "unhealthy," charging that many Maryland legislators don't evaluate bills on their merits because they must be concerned with loyalty to a political party or to outside influences that helped finance their elections.

To that end, Mr. Reynolds says he favors term limits, open primaries in which all candidates compete on one ballot and publicly financed elections to lessen the emphasis on fund raising.

He says he is not a "purist" about fund raising and that he intends to solicit individual contributions and would accept donations from political action committees (PACs) if he shares their views. He says he hopes to raise between $5,000 and $10,000. "There's no reason you have to spend $50,000, $60,000, $70,000," he said.

The field for the new two-member District 13A, encompassing east Columbia and southeast Howard County, includes Columbia Democrats Frank S. Turner, Pearl Atkinson Stewart, Wanda Hurt and Robert Ardinger and Scaggsville Republican Michael Grasso.

Incumbent Del. Virginia M. Thomas, a Columbia Democrat, and Mr. Madden have not announced their plans.

Mr. Reynolds says he wants to "synthesize" the best parts of the Democratic and Republican approaches to government. "I consider myself a fiscal conservative, but socially progressive," he says.

He says he supports overhauling the state's criminal justice system and a "dysfunctional" juvenile justice system. Prisons should be converted into financially self-supporting institutions in which inmates are paid wages for productive work, such as making clothes or farming, under contract to private industry or government.

He says too much money is spent on education administration, and that more should be channeled to classrooms.

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