GOP newcomers vie to run for council CAMPAIGN 1994

August 22, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

Annapolis voters longing for a fresh face in politics will be pleased with the County Council District 6 Republican primary.

The candidates, William C. Mulford II, an assistant state's attorney, and Kenneth R. Sosnoski Jr., a University of Baltimore law student, are making their first run for office in Anne Arundel County.

Melinda M. Hamilton is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Mr. Mulford, 34, a county prosecutor for eight years, gained public notice by putting former Northeast High School teacher Ron Price behind bars for child abuse. He promises to use that same zeal to attack entrenched political interests and protect taxpayers.

Mr. Sosnoski, 30, touts his two years of experience as a member of the Danbury, Conn., school board, -- he was elected at age 26 -- which he says gives him the political and public policy skills that his opponent doesn't have.

"I'm the only individual who has experience putting coalitions together, passing legislation," he said, noting that the school board oversaw a $58 million budget.

This does not look like a campaign with a high price tag. Mr. Mulford has so far raised $3,717 according to his campaign finance report filed last week. Mr. Sosnoski did not submit a report, but instead filed an affidavit stating he would not raise or spend more than $300 in the campaign, making a finance report unnecessary.

Mr. Mulford said it was his concern over the budget that motivated him to run. His decision to run was spurred by "events that offended me to no end. I can't believe the actions of some people in government," he said. "I want to get into county government to inject some sanity into the process."

If he had to boil down his philosophy to one phrase, he said, it would be "the ability to maintain essential services within the limits of the tax cap."

The property tax cap adopted by voters two years ago limits the county's income by limiting the increase in property tax revenue the county can collect each year to the local rate of inflation or 4.5 percent, whichever is less.

As an example of a poor spending decision made by the council, Mr. Mulford points to $25,000 that was approved in the current budget for a mentor program that would assist disadvantaged youth in gaining acceptance into the National Honor Society.

"Great idea. Is it an essential service? Is it something government needs to do? Is it something government can afford to do?" he said. A better idea would be to hire more teachers and teacher aides to reduce class sizes, "instead of some fuzzy-headed program, you don't know if it will succeed, and that's not an essential service."

Although nobody has made an issue of it yet, an interesting question is whether Mr. Mulford, as a county employee in the state's attorney's office, would face a conflict of interest as a county councilman. The prosecutor said he has considered it and doesn't think it would be a problem.

"I'm a prosecutor and I enforce for the most part state law," he said. "The duties are completely different."

Mr. Mulford said that he will ask County Attorney Judson P. Garrett Jr. to get a ruling from the attorney general's office as to whether a conflict exists. Ultimately, if he is elected and a conflict does exist he will leave the state's attorney's office.

"The question is, if by serving on the County Council I would be lining my own pockets. If this were the case, I would be out of there," he said. "I'm going to be in public service no matter what, and if it's a conflict, I'm leaving the state's attorney's office." Mr. Sosnoski said he entered the race because at that point no Republican had declared, and he didn't want the Democrats to run unopposed. "So I said I will do it, I will pick up the flag and run," he said. "I feel society needs the great debate, so I filed."

Mr. Mulford said he had made a decision to run for the council a year and a half ago, "when someone named Ron Price showed up." He chose to delay his announcement "because everything you do after you announce for office is seen as having a political motive, whether it's there or not."

One issue sure to arise during the campaign is the fact that Mr. Sosnoski moved to Annapolis just last year. But, he believes "experience and background are more important than the number of years you've lived in a community."

He moved to Maryland with his wife two years ago when he started law school, and initially they lived in Randallstown. "There was no sense of community there," he said. The couple visited Annapolis one weekend and it reminded his wife of New England.

Mr. Sosnoski says the county must plan now for the anticipated state budget shortfalls that are predicted in coming years, which will mean cuts in state grants to counties.

The county needs a growth management plan that will address development and school crowding. "A plan should have been in place years ago," he said. And the county must decide now what it will be doing with its trash 50 years from now.

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