Candidate Murphy criticizes Hayden at rally

March 19, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

The old standard of political campaigning -- holding an incumbent responsible for whatever happens on his watch -- already is coming into play in this year's race for Baltimore County executive.

State Sen. Nancy L. Murphy, a Catonsville Democrat, has charged Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden with a few things that may become themes among Democrats seeking his office.

Speaking to 150 to 200 campaign volunteers at a rally Wednesday night in Overlea, Senator Murphy, the only declared Democratic candidate for executive, implied that Mr. Hayden has weakened police and fire services, presided over declining schools and did a poor job cleaning ice and snow off county roads this winter.

"Roger Hayden's snow removal plan is called 'spring,' " she said, "and his crime prevention program is called 'winter.' " The latter was a reference to the icy winter that may have hampered criminal activity.

She said the county has about 200 fewer police officers than three years ago and charged that its police cars are scarce and unreliable.

Also, she said, "I can remember when [fire] equipment wasn't older than the people using it."

The senator cited police response to a 1993 burglary at her own home to illustrate the point about police cars. The officer said he was later because he was trying to find a reliable vehicle, she said.

County police confirmed yesterday that a balky police car delayed an officer's response to a report of a July 12, 1993, burglary at Senator Murphy's home. But the delay was less than five minutes, police said. Senator Murphy also said the county's schools have been in decline for the past 10 years.

While the county's population is growing older and more poor people are moving in, the county is reducing services, she said, and needs more economic development to increase the tax base. "I want to take Baltimore County back and make it what it used to be," she said.

The senator's supporters applauded, but Mr. Hayden, a Republican, had a different reaction..

"The shame of it is that people color things for political benefit," Mr. Hayden said, calling the Murphy charges "political rhetoric that distorts what's really going on."

The fact the county has fewer sworn officers "begs the question," he said. He said that crime in 1993 was down to 1989 levels and that many community meetings have resulted in dozens of new neighborhood crime watch programs.

The county is spending $3.5 million for new fire equipment, including eight ambulances, seven pumpers, two ladder trucks and two ladder-pumpers, he said.

And once again Mr. Hayden defended county snow-clearing efforts, saying the winter was much colder and more icy than any in modern county history. "Our people did a tremendous job," he said.

On schools, the executive said, "I haven't perceived that schools have gone downhill to the extent that general concern is appropriate."

He reiterated statements about being forced to make deeper budget cuts -- more than he ever intended when he was elected in 1990 -- because of the loss of more than $90 million in county revenues, largely because of state budget cuts.

Senator Murphy will continue her early campaign with a $100 a ticket fund-raiser March 31 in Woodlawn.

Others contemplating a run for the Democratic nomination or seeking the nomination are County Councilmen Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Melvin G. Mintz; District Judge John C. Coolahan, a former state legislator from Halethorpe-Arbutus; and Del. Joseph Bartenfelder of Fullerton.

Mrs. Murphy has opened a campaign office in the heart of old Essex, in the 800 block of Eastern Blvd.

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