Kraft, who gave up bid for state Senate seat, to run for council

June 21, 1994|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Sun Staff Writer

Columbia resident James B. Kraft has resurfaced in a political race -- this time on a more local level.

Mr. Kraft, the former chairman of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee, yesterday announced his candidacy for County Council in District 4 in West Columbia, about two months after he gave up a bid for the state Senate seat that includes that area.

"It's really more about having a desire to serve the people of the community in the best way I can," said Mr. Kraft, 44. "I deeply regretted getting out of the legislative race."

No candidates have registered officially for the council seat occupied since 1989 by Democrat Paul R. Farragut, who is not seeking re-election. Democrat Mary Lorsung, Mr. Farragut's administrative assistant, the only other person to have announced for the seat, has Mr. Farragut's backing.

The council seat is the third elected office for which Mr. Kraft has declared his candidacy since last fall.

Mr. Kraft first said he would run for the District 12B House of Delegates seat. He later decided to run for state Senate when Sen. Nancy L. Murphy, D-12, announced that she would run for Baltimore County executive rather than seek re-election.

In announcing his Senate bid in February, Mr. Kraft said that the Senate seat had been his desire all along. But on April 8, he withdrew from the race, saying that the campaign in the district, which stretches from west Columbia to southwestern Baltimore County, would take too much time away from his family and his private law practice in Columbia.

But Mr. Kraft said yesterday that residents in the west Columbia area have encouraged him to run for council since Mr. Farragut announced at a Democratic dinner May 11 that he was stepping down to devote more time to his family and to his job at the Port of Baltimore.

"The council race from a political campaign standpoint is much more manageable," said Mr. Kraft, who ran unsuccessfully for the House of Delegates in 1990. "This gives me an opportunity to work in an office that's much closer to the people and solve the types of problems I'm dealing with every day anyhow."

Mr. Kraft said he does frequent free legal work for groups such as mobile home owners, community associations and the Howard County Domestic Violence Center.

No Republicans have announced for Mr. Farrugut's west Columbia district, in which registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 2-to-1. But Allan Kittleman, chairman of the Howard Republican Central Committee, said that the GOP will field at least one candidate and said he was pleased that Democrats appear headed for a primary.

"It makes it more attractive for Republicans," Mr. Kittleman said. "It makes [Democrats] work and spend their money."

Mr. Kittleman said he doesn't view the district as "unwinnable" for a Republican.

"People see the county run well by [Republican County Executive Charles I. Ecker.] Why not give him a Republican council to work with?" he said.

Ms. Lorsung said she always anticipated having competition for Mr. Farrugut's seat. She emphasized her 18 years of experience addressing community issues as Harper's Choice village manager from 1976 to 1984 and as an assistant to Del. Virginia M. Thomas, D-13A, and to Mr. Farragut.

Mr. Kraft, however, said that the council needs "strong voices. I haven't seen a lot of leadership on the part of the council. I think I can be a leader. I haven't ducked tough questions and haven't hesitated to fight strongly for things I believe in."

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