9th District features low-key fight CAMPAIGN 1994

August 30, 1994|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Sun Staff Writer

If you want to meet a slice of middle America, go to the intersection of Stevenson Lane and York Road and walk in any direction.

Do it about 6 o'clock in the evening, and you might run into Steve Lafferty or Carol Allen knocking on doors, or Jim Kelly standing on a street corner holding a campaign sign and waving to motorists.

Mr. Lafferty, 45, a Towson lawyer, and Ms. Allen, 54, mother of three daughters and executive director of Historic Towson, are the two Democratic candidates for the House of Delegates seat in District 9B. Mr. Kelly, 34, a former state trooper, is one of six Republicans competing in the Sept. 13 primary to face Mr. Lafferty or Ms. Allen in the November general election.

Such venerable middle-class neighborhoods as Stoneleigh, Rodgers Forge, West Towson, Pinehurst and Wiltondale are the backbone of District 9B, a small legislative district bounded by Gittings Avenue, the Baltimore Beltway, Charles Street and Loch Raven Boulevard.

The subdistrict is part of District 9, which will elect one state senator in the general election in November. Veteran Republican incumbent Sen. F. Vernon Boozer, 58, and Democrat John C. Head, 45, who works for the Better Business Bureau in Towson, are unopposed in the primary.

District 9B has about 20,000 registered voters, 11,800 Democrats and 6,600 Republicans, and a small number of independents. Although politicians say the tiny but densely populated subdistrict was drawn up after the 1990 Census to favor incumbent Democrat Gerry L. Brewster, Mr. Brewster is running for Congress this year, and the race to replace him in the state Assembly is wide open.

The grass-roots campaigning the candidates are enduring is made easier by the cool ambience of quiet, tree-lined neighborhoods and mostly friendly people.

"The 'grouch count' is very low," said Mr. Lafferty as he walked along a street near Rodgers Forge Elementary School recently. He favors strengthening public education, attacking crime at its roots and punishing the most violent offenders.

Ms. Allen, a 25-year resident of Stoneleigh, says, "The people are very nice. They even remember you the second time around."

On a cool August evening, Ms. Allen and a friend walked the winding, secluded streets of Wiltondale, where the lawns are littered with campaign signs from every level of Maryland politics.

They knocked on front doors, chatted briefly with residents and handed out campaign literature. "What's on the news is what you hear at the door," Ms. Allen said.

Ms. Allen, a former legislative aide in Annapolis, said her experience there has made her knowledgeable about health care.

"I sat through many hearings on the subject," she says. "I applaud the concept of universal health care, without damaging what we already have."

Ms. Allen or Mr. Lafferty will face the winner of a vigorous campaign by a mixture of youthful and middle-aged candidates on the Republican side.

The oldest is Joan Miller, 52, a teacher at Dundalk High School, who is running because she is "frustrated with the whole system."

"I just want to see honest government," she says. "The politicians say the same old things and do nothing. They come up with the same old nonsolutions."

She said that policemen are demoralized and that judges are not helping get criminals off the streets.

"This is payback time for me," she said. "I've lived a comfortable life, and I'm out there trying to make a contribution."

At the other end of the age spectrum is Deboul "Jay" Kim, who is 21 or 22, depending on which one of his records you peruse.

At various times, Mr. Kim has claimed to have graduated from the Johns Hopkins University in 1991, 1993 and 1994. He also at one point supplied the Social Security number of another person named Kim, in an effort to prove that he was a medical student at Johns Hopkins. Hopkins officials say Mr. Kim apparently attended the university but did not graduate and is not a medical student there.

Mr. Kim has campaigned vigorously. His latest mailing featured a photograph of small children on a playground, as viewed through a rifle's telescopic sight. He said in a flier that he supports abolishing "our lenient, liberal parole system for violent criminals." He did not return a reporter's phone calls.

James "Chip" DiPaula, 32, executive director of Brightwood Retirement Community and a community activist, is also running flat-out for the nomination, working all the neighborhoods door to door.

"A lot of people appreciate you taking the time to talk to them," he says. "They even invite you in for some iced tea on hot days. Crime is on everyone's minds. I personally am appalled at the juvenile justice system, which gives young criminals too many chances."

On the state's financial difficulties, Mr. DiPaula recognizes there are "real tough choices" to make on what to cut to restore financial stability.

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