2 senators run, and one must fall Democrats Piccinini, Hollinger compete in new 11th District CAMPAIGN 1994

August 21, 1994|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Sun Staff Writer

There are few verities in politics but one is that a Baltimore County state senator will bite the dust in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary.

Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, 53, of Pikesville, and Sen. Janice Piccinini, 48, of Timonium, are each determined to be the one still standing after the electoral shootout.

But this cannot be: One must fall.

The confrontation between the two incumbents, both feisty liberals, arose when district lines were redrawn to meet population changes in the 1990 Census and court decisions requiring more black representation.

When the vast new 11th District was created, it included the homes of both senators and threw them into battle against each other.

In the new 11th, there's plenty of room for them to spread their views. The district sprawls across western and northwestern Baltimore County, from Howard County to Pikesville and north through Owings Mills, Reisterstown and Glyndon to Carroll County and includes part of Timonium.

It is generally socially and fiscally liberal along the northwest corridor through Owings Mills; moderate to conservative along the York Road corridor, and very conservative in the most northerly areas.

Each senator claims an edge in the race. They won't attack each other personally, at least not publicly, and say it is an issues campaign.

As they talk with voters, they said, they have found different emphases.

Ms. Hollinger, a former nurse, said crime, particularly car thefts, has been the leading concern, followed closely by taxes and worry about federal health care reform.

Ms. Piccinini, a former teacher, sees education as the most important issue among constituents. "They are upset with the school board and with Superintendent [Stuart] Berger," she said.

Ms. Hollinger, who has specialized in health issues during two terms in the House and eight years in the Senate, said the federal government should leave implementation of health care reform to the states.

"States have more willingness to do their own health care reform," she said. "Congress should get off the dime and mandate reform in each state by a date certain," then let the states decide what they need.

"Each state has different problems. Where there is a good system, don't change it."

Drug addiction is a health problem that "we keep treating like a crime problem," Ms. Hollinger continued. "It would be more cost-effective to spend money on clinics and treatment programs. I'm for building all the prisons we need, but treatment has to be available."

Ms. Piccinini said education problems most often raised are: classroom overcrowding, reductions in the gifted and talented programs, and problems accompanying the shift of handicapped youngsters to regular classrooms.

While resolution of those issues is a local matter, she said, the most urgent issue the new governor and legislature will face is money.

"We have a budget problem, not a crisis, a problem, the built-in deficit in the present budget caused by underestimating prison population, foster care and Medicaid, for example," she said.

"The next governor must decide how to resolve the present long-term deficit while still fully funding education. Higher education is still not funded back to its 1990 level," Ms. Piccinini said.

Ironically, it was Ms. Hollinger who urged Ms. Piccinini to run an abortion-rights campaign in 1990 that won her the Senate seat. However, the relationship cooled and developed into a sharp rivalry.

Under the old boundaries, Ms. Hollinger represented the 11th District, a heavily Jewish area that included most of Pikesville and Randallstown.

In the redistricting that created a new majority-black 10th District, she lost Randallstown and part of Pikesville to the 42nd District, which now crosses the city-county line.

Ms. Piccinini, former president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County and the Maryland State Teachers Association, represented the old 10th District, which included most of the north-central and northwestern county.

In redistricting, she lost the 10th's most rural northern and western precincts. That gives her a more Democratic and less conservative district, but one with many longtime Hollinger supporters in Owings Mills and Pikesville.

Both senators are considered aggressive and durable campaigners. They spend hours knocking on doors trying to attract new adherents and reinforce loyalty.

Lawn signs are starting to bloom, and eager volunteers stand at intersections waving campaign signs.

Ms. Hollinger said she is encouraged because she has found not only many former constituents who have moved to Owings Mills from Pikesville and Randallstown but young adult children of those families.

For her part, Ms. Piccinini, who put her campaign headquarters in populous Owings Mills, said she "loves" her new district, finding residents compatible with her view of herself as "the type of activist senator people are calling for."

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