20-year-old makes run for legislature

April 01, 1994|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Sun Staff Writer

Charlie Scott can make one claim that no one else running for the General Assembly from Columbia can match -- that he's the only candidate born and reared in the 26-year-old New Town.

The 20-year-old University of Maryland-College Park junior narrowly qualifies for the general election for the District 12B House of Delegates seat because he turns 21 -- the minimum age for eligibility under the Maryland Constitution -- on Oct. 19, less than a month before the Nov. 8 election.

But Mr. Scott says he doesn't view his youth as a drawback, noting that Del. Kenneth D. Schisler, an Eastern Shore Republican, won in the 1990 election at age 21.

"That shows it can be done," says Mr. Scott, a 1991 Wilde Lake High School graduate. "I definitely think it can be done or I wouldn't be doing it."

But Democratic leaders say Mr. Scott -- the only Republican to have filed -- would face long odds in a general election even were he a political veteran because registration rolls show Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 2 to 1 in the newly created district. And Democratic primary has several seasoned candidates who have held prominent positions in the community.

"Slim to none," says Wanda Hurt, president of the Columbia Democratic Club and a delegate candidate in District 13A, which includes east Columbia. "I'm not saying it couldn't happen. We ++ all know in 1990 we thought we had a lot of safe Democratic seats that now are not in Democrats' hands. But the odds are very heavily against it."

Sue-Ellen Hantman, a Howard County Democratic Central Committee member, adds that the district's Democratic voters tend to be loyal to the party at the polls. Still, she says, "It's nothing to be taken for granted."

Allan Kittleman, chairman of the Howard County Republican Central Committee, says Mr. Scott has strong Columbia roots and has earned his stripes as the committee's voter registration chairman for the last year.

"I know he's got stiff competition, but I wouldn't count him out," Mr. Kittleman says. "He's young and energetic and will do what needs to be done. He'll knock on doors."

Democratic contenders thus far include Elizabeth Bobo, former county executive; Rosemary Mortimer, former county PTA Council president; and Ethel Hill, former Wilde Lake Village Board chairwoman. District 12B includes most of West Columbia and southern portions of Ellicott City.

On the Republican side, Del. Robert L. Flanagan, R-14B, a West Columbia resident, has been redistricted into District 12B. But he says he's leaning toward moving back into the western Howard district he currently represents and running for re-election.

Coincidentally, Mr. Scott served as an intern in the county executive's office during Ms. Bobo's term, and as a student associate on the county Board of Education during Ms. Mortimer's PTA tenure.

A natural resource management major, Mr. Scott says he'd want to work on statewide environmental issues if elected to the legislature. Actually, he's already dabbled in that field, as an intern this year for Howard Republican Dels. Martin G. Madden ** and John S. Morgan.

Mr. Scott worked with Mr. Madden on a bill that would have subjected Columbia to the state Forest Conservation Act. Columbia has been exempted because the Rouse Co., the city's developer, had previously set aside vast amounts of open space, but Mr. Scott contends that woodlands need protection for the future.

Mr. Madden withdrew the bill because the Rouse Co. and a state environmental agency opposed it. But the Rouse Co. agreed to work on an amendment that would apply to redevelopment projects in Columbia.

Mr. Scott's parents have a hearing pending before a state administrative judge challenging the Columbia Association's Fairway Hills Golf Course project, which is being built adjacent to their Wilde Lake home along the Little Patuxent River. The younger Scott testified against the project at a state environmental hearing last summer.

Mr. Scott, who describes himself as a "moderate Republican," says he wants to serve in Annapolis to "give something back to the community. I've gotten so much."

He says he considered postponing his run at politics when he discovered Ms. Bobo had entered the race. "My friends asked why I was giving up something I was interested in. I thought about it for a while and decided to go ahead," he says.

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