Candidate forums lack audiences CAMPAIGN 1994

August 07, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

The candidates for Baltimore County executive vastly outnumbered the two audience members at a forum last month at Middleborough Elementary School in Middle River, so the event was canceled.

Another forum for executive candidates scheduled for Tuesday night at Goucher College by the Towson Development Corp. was canceled.

Wayne Skinner, director of the private business development organization, said hundreds of letters were mailed, but only 24 people indicated they likely would attend.

Other forums held around Baltimore County this summer have drawn only small numbers of residents, usually fewer than 50 a session, a far cry from 1990 when voters aroused about rising property tax assessments, traffic congestion and government spending seemed much more interested.

Four Democrats are competing in the county executive's race to represent their party in the November general election, and two little-known Republicans are vying with County Executive Roger B. Hayden for their party's nomination. Scores of other candidates are running for the legislature and County Council in newly redrawn districts and for various court-related offices.

However, residents don't seem focused on politics this year, Mr. Skinner said.

Mr. Skinner, who finished a term as president of the Towson-Loch Raven Community Council in July, said the council worked hard to get 42 people at a countywide forum July 20.

After sending out 90 letters and making dozens of phone calls, the group ran into refusals citing the gamut of "vacations, relatives visiting, baseball games, kids recreation council events, you name it," he said.

What the lack of interest portends for the candidates is unclear, but voters will have several more chances to hear and speak to their potential leaders before the election.

The county chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Baltimore Jewish Council and Jewish Community Association have scheduled 12 candidates forums for a variety of offices. The initial NAACP session is Tuesday.

The Jewish groups are sponsoring five meetings, all at 7:30 p.m., with the first tomorrow.

Legislative candidates in the new 10th District, which covers the Liberty Road corridor edging into Baltimore, are the first scheduled in the Jewish groups' series. The forum will be at Beth Israel Congregation, 9411 Liberty Road.

The others are:

* Aug. 15 at Chizuk Amuno Congregation, 8100 Stevenson Road, for county executive and 2nd District County Council candidates.

* Aug. 22 at the Jewish Community Center, 5700 Park Heights Ave., for legislative candidates in the 42nd District, which includes part of Pikesville and Northwest Baltimore.

* Aug. 29 at the Jewish Community Center in Owings Mills, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., for legislative candidates in the 11th District.

* Aug. 31 at the Jewish Community Center in Owings Mills for 3rd District County Council candidates.

The county branch of the NAACP will hold seven forums, all from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The first, on Tuesday, will be at Woodlawn High School, 1801 Woodlawn Drive, for 10th District legislative candidates.

Two nights later, candidates for county executive and 2nd District County Council will be at Woodlawn High. The other sessions are:

* Aug. 18 at Owings Mills High, 124 Tollgate Road, for 11th District legislative candidates and 3rd District County Council candidates.

* Aug. 23 at Milford Mill Academy, 3800 Washington Ave., another session for legislative candidates in the 10th District.

* Aug. 30 at Banneker Community Center, 163 Wesley Ave., Catonsville, for 1st District County Council candidates and legislative candidates in Districts 47B and 12A.

* Aug. 31 at Randallstown Public Library, 8604 Liberty Road, for judicial, courthouse and party central committee candidates.

A final session will be held for the 10th District legislative candidates at Randallstown High School, 4000 Offutt Road. No firm date has been set, but Sept. 8 is likely, a county NAACP spokesman said.

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