Gubernatorial candidates square off on family issues CAMPAIGN 1994 -- THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR

May 11, 1994|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Sun Staff Writer

Seven gubernatorial candidates squared off last night on a host of family issues that ranged from welfare reform to spanking school children, but offered few specific remedies.

The candidates, Democrats and Republicans, wrestled with the complex issues of government's role in protecting and providing for children and families, and spurring the state economy with the hope of more and better-paying jobs.

The two-hour forum at the University of Maryland Baltimore County was sponsored by the MarylandCommittee for Children Inc., a private, nonprofit advocacy group.

The program, moderated by radio talk-show host Marc Steiner, was broadcast live over WJHU-FM.

Missing among the major candidates was Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, the Republican congresswoman from the 2nd District running for the GOP nomination.

Democrat Frank A. Conaway, a former Baltimore delegate, also was a no-show.

Baltimore County Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the House of Delegates minority leader running for the GOP nomination, decried welfare as "30 years of failure" and said, "The best care for our children is going to come from a good two-parent family."

Other candidates pointed out the shortcomings of welfare but stayed away from suggesting a two-parent family was the solution.

Mrs. Sauerbrey said she favored a welfare reform that includes a "family cap," which would deny more payments to women statewide who have additional children while on welfare.

The cap was included in a welfare reform bill proposed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer to the General Assembly this year, but legislators removed that provision.

The bill that passed -- which Mr. Schaefer said he would consider vetoing -- would set up a pilot program in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties to reduce and eventually eliminate payments to recipients who fail to find a job or perform community service after 18 months on the rolls.

Mrs. Sauerbrey also was the only candidate favoring religious exemptions to child-care regulations overseen by the Maryland Department of Human Resources -- a proposal that failed in this year's session of the Maryland General Assembly.

Those exemptions, said state Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski, a Baltimore Democrat, were nothing more than a guise to allow corporal punishment -- spanking -- in church-run day-care centers.

Mr. Miedusiewski, a Baltimore Democrat running in a crowded field for his party's gubernatorial nomination, opposed the exemptions in the legislature this year.

The other Republican on the panel, William S. Shepard -- a retired foreign service officer and the 1990 GOP standard bearer -- offered moderate views that seemed more in line with the three other Democratic candidates on the panel -- Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening, Lt. Gov. Melvin A. "Mickey" Steinberg and Montgomery County Sen. Mary H. Boergers.

Perennial candidate Lawrence K. Freeman, a perennial candidate and follower of Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr., was not invited but was allowed to sit on the panel and take questions.

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