Former Laurel mayor to run for House District 13B seat

June 09, 1994|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Sun Staff Writer

He's a seasoned politician who faces an unknown in the Democratic primary for the House of Delegates seat in District 13B. And if he wins the nomination, former Laurel mayor Joseph R. Robison hopes to draw on his Laurel base to unseat the district's Republican incumbent.

Yesterday, Mr. Robison, a 61-year-old Laurel native, announced his candidacy for the delegate's seat that includes the Laurel area of Howard and Prince George's counties.

Currently, District 13B is represented by two Republicans, John S. Morgan and Martin G. Madden, but one seat has been eliminated under redistricting that takes effect with this year's election.

In making his announcement on the back porch of his Laurel City home, Mr. Robison emphasized his Laurel support and outlined the major components of his agenda: education, public safety and growth control.

He said he wants to continue the fight against drugs, avoid tax increases and help Laurel area residents find jobs to replace those they lost when the economy went on a skid in the late 1980s.

"A recession is when a neighbor is out of work," he said. "A depression is when you're out of work. We had a lot of that in Laurel. This area was hard hit."

Mr. Robison's critics have charged that some economic problems in Laurel were the result of his mayoral administration, which began in 1990 and ended in March.

Early projections for the current fiscal year, ending June 30, showed a more than $1 million budget shortfall. Although there has been no official audit yet, Mr. Robison said that the shortfall has been reduced to $100,000.

Critics also have charged that he depleted city reserve funds by using $500,000 of those funds for the city's Capital Improvement Program.

"I plead guilty to not raising taxes," he said in response to the charges. "I'm not guilty of running down the reserves. We used the reserves wisely. What is a reserve for if it is not to be used at times?"

Mr. Robison's Democratic opponent, John A. Giannetti, a 30-year-old newcomer to politics, said voters have expressed discontent with the way the incumbents have run government. Mr. Giannetti said he sees that as an advantage to beating Mr. Robison.

"People in Laurel know who Joe Robison is, but I think people are looking for a change in their representation," Mr. Giannetti said. "I think I'll be one who will be able to provide that change."

Mr. Robison, however, focuses his campaign on his knowledge of the area, rather than basing his platform on change.

Mr. Robison grew up in Laurel and became a crewman with Laurel's volunteer fire department at the age of 14. He later became a member of the Maryland State Fire Association and other rescue groups, and worked for 36 years as a U.S. Postal Service employee.

Before becoming mayor of Laurel, Mr. Robison was a City Council member from 1988 to 1990. Those experiences helped him to gain knowledge of communities from Laurel in Prince George's County to Elkridge in Howard County, Mr. Robison said. That knowledge of Howard County might help him against Mr. Morgan, who has many supporters in the Howard County portion of greater Laurel.

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