Delegate candidate Hill vows education reform

March 30, 1994|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Sun Staff Writer

Ethel B. Hill came to Columbia 25 years ago because it was different from Baltimore and Washington. Now she's running for a House of Delegates seat because the New Town is becoming all too similar to its big city neighbors.

Ms. Hill, who moved to Wilde Lake village in 1969, two years after the unincorporated city was established, says Columbia has been a wonderful place to live and rear her two daughters. But Columbia and the county are "not the same as they used to be," says the 61-year-old Democrat, who earned a law degree in 1987 after spending most of her career as a Social Security Administration manager.

"If you wanted to volunteer in a soup kitchen years ago, you had to go to Baltimore," says Ms. Hill, who is running in District 12B, which includes most of west Columbia and a portion of Ellicott City. "Now we have our hungry, homeless, crime, drug-related violence. The problems of the city have found us.

"We can't put our heads in the sand and think the magnitude of problems in Baltimore and other cities will never happen here. We have to address them. If we don't, a couple years down the road, we'll be talking about reclaiming our city and streets."

Ms. Hill says that social ills can't be resolved without increasing economic development to create jobs and help small businesses succeed.

Also, state representatives must take a broader view rather than protecting "parochial" interests in order to make progress, she says.

While Howard residents place a premium on education, the state's prosperity is tied to education for children in all Maryland jurisdictions and quality jobs to keep them out of trouble, she says.

"The future work force will be many more people of color and more women," she says. "The source of the work force is the City of Baltimore. We have an investment in the product Baltimore City schools put out."

Elected leaders must search for regional solutions to problems such as drug-related crime and homelessness the same way they have for solid waste disposal, Ms. Hill says.

"It used to be fine, maybe 20 years ago, when you could truly say one jurisdiction's problems were their problems. You can't say that anymore," she says.

Other Democrats who are running for the newly created single-member district include former County Executive Elizabeth Bobo and Rosemary Mortimer, former president of the county PTA Council. Both are Columbia residents.

Charles E. Scott, also of Columbia, is the only Republican to have filed for the race. Del. Robert L. Flanagan, a District 14B Republican who was redistricted into District 12B under the redrawn boundaries, says he is leaning toward moving back into the district he currently represents, which has a stronger Republican base, and running for re-election.

Ms. Hill says running against the more high-profile former county executive is not daunting to her, partly because Ms. Bobo lost her re-election bid in 1990.

Ms. Hill, a Chester, Pa., native, boasts a long list of community service activities. She assumed leadership roles on the Wilde Lake village board and the Wilde Lake Middle School PTA in the 1970s; served on the County Board of Appeals in the early 1980s; and recently founded and serves as president of the Columbia Chapter of Continental Societies Inc., an organization that assists disadvantaged children.

She failed in bids for a seat on the county school board in 1978 and 1980. In 1982, she managed a campaign for William Manning, who was elected to the school board.

Ms. Hill earned a master's degree in social work from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania in 1965. She worked for the Social Security Administration for 20 years as an Equal Opportunity specialist, manager for a National Federal Women's Program, and an attorney and policy adviser until retiring in January.

Ms. Hill entered law school at the University of Maryland at age 50. She runs a solo practice focusing on child abuse and neglect, which she put on hold for the campaign.

She has represented both children and parents as an attorney hired by the child abuse and neglect division of Washington, D.C., Superior Court.

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