Candidates as varied as 3rd District voters CAMPAIGN 1994

August 18, 1994|By Pat Gilbert | Pat Gilbert,Sun Staff Writer

I. William "Billy" Chase, a candidate for Baltimore County Council in the 3rd District, stood outside the Hunt Valley Giant supermarket handing out campaign literature as customers came out. There were farmers, young professionals, senior citizens and a few people who got into expensive cars.

"This is like the 3rd Councilmanic District in microcosm," Mr. Chase said.

The eight candidates -- four Democrats and four Republicans -- in the council race -- in a huge district that stretches from suburban Owings Mills to rural Maryland Line -- reflect the same diversity.

For example, Mr. Chase, a Democrat, is an urbane lawyer from Owings Mills. Patrick D. Meadowcroft, a Republican, is a rural north county small businessman who talks in the passionate tones of a country preacher. Edward W. Veit, a Republican, is a former teacher and outspoken labor leader, and James D. Keel Jr., a Democrat, is a retired county police lieutenant.

At stake is the council seat being vacated by Democrat Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger III, a candidate for county executive.

The other Democrats in the Sept. 13 primary are Elwood H. "Woody" Banister, retired county fire chief, and Malcolm C. Davis, a former law enforcement officer now in charge of security at Clifton T. Perkins State Hospital in Jessup.

Other Republican contenders include T. Bryan McIntire, a lawyer and vice president of the Glyndon Community Association, and Henry J. Merchant III, a knife maker who ran in 1990.

'Republicans in disguise'

The 3rd has the largest number of registered Republicans of any council district, and many of the Democrats are conservative.

"Democrats in this district are really Republicans in disguise," said former state Sen. Frank Kelly, a conservative Democrat who until 1990 represented northern Baltimore County in the General Assembly.

However, no Republican has represented the district since 1978. Sheila Haskell ran an energetic campaign in 1986, losing to Mr. Ruppersberger by 468 votes. Mr. Merchant barely campaigned in 1990 but got 43 percent of the vote.

"A Republican can do well in this district by just being on the ballot in the general election," said Mr. Kelly. "But it takes an exceptional Democrat to win up here. You have to be liberal enough to win the primary and conservative enough to win the general."

Just the fact that four Republicans are competing for the nomination this year pleases county GOP Chairman Kent Swanson.

"We have four very qualified candidates running which speaks well of the party," Mr. Swanson said.

Crime, land use

Redistricting took away Republican strongholds in Baldwin, Monkton and White Hall, but registered Republicans in the district increased by 813, according to county election board figures. Many of the new Republican Party members settled in Mays Chapel west of Timonium.

Crime and land use are the issues that dominate. All candidates generally agree that the rural atmosphere needs to be protected.

"The rural part of the district is a treasure to preserve and enjoy," said Mr. McIntire.

Every candidate also feels that crime has become a more important issue in the district.

"We need more community programs to combat crime such as Citizens on Patrol and we need to have more youth programs to give youngsters alternatives to criminal involvement," said Mr. Davis of Sparks, a former city police officer and state trooper.

And, predictably in a conservative district, every candidate is against raising taxes and in favor of reducing county government.

The population concentration and the largest pool of registered Democrats are in Owings Mills-Reisterstown, home base for Mr. Chase. The former Planning Board member appears to have the best-organized campaign.

Active in community and parent-teacher associations, Mr. Chase, 47, works in the mental health division of the state public defender's office.

"I think my years on the planning board dealing with such items as land use issues, zoning, and the capital budget -- all of which ends up before the council -- gives me the experience and the knowledge necessary to be an effective council member," Mr. Chase said.

Criticized Hayden

Mr. Banister said he got into the race because his experience in county government and in running a county agency would be valuable.

"As I've been campaigning, people have told me they weren't rTC surprised, given my experience, that I wouldn't stay retired," he said.

Mr. Banister, 59, of Phoenix, retired in May after the firefighters union circulated a speech he gave at a convention in Cincinnati criticizing County Executive Roger B. Hayden for cutting the department budget.

Both Mr. Banister and Mr. Hayden maintain that the former chief was not forced out.

Mr. Davis, 44, in his first campaign, decided to run because "it was time to get involved in doing things that I feel need to be done."

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