Crime shows up as pivotal issue in 9th District CAMPAIGN 1994

August 31, 1994|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Sun Staff Writer

Walter Boyd, a Republican House of Delegates candidate in District 9A, says, "Everyone talks about crime, but nobody does anything about it."

He's right about the first part. Everyone appears to be talking about crime first and everything else second in the huge district, which stretches from Baynesville to the Pennsylvania line.

More than 44,500 people are registered to vote in the district in the Sept. 13 primary -- 23,568 as Democrats, 17,597 as Republicans. The rest are registered mostly as independents. The sub district is part of the 9th District, 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.

2 House seats at stake

Two House seats are at stake in District 9A. Shelley Buckingham of Towson, a lobbyist for the American Lung Association of Maryland, and Raymond A. Huber of Loch Raven Village, a former employee of the state Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, are unopposed in the Democratic primary, but five Republicans are in a vigorous campaign to face Ms. Buckingham and Mr. Huber in the general election.

Mr. Boyd, 68, of Lutherville, a retired parole and probation officer for the state, is a co-founder of Property Taxpayers' United, taxes being another subject occupying voters' minds this year.

"We help the elderly and others appeal their property taxes," Mr. Boyd said. "But we found out from knocking on doors that crime is the No. 1 issue. Judges are half the problem, with their lenient sentences."

Knocking on doors is what all the candidates are doing.

Paul Dowling Jr., 24, sells computer hardware and software out of his Cockeysville home and is a community activist. He said his candidacy is merely an extension of his community service as a youth minister and sports coach. He goes door to door and also stands on street corners waving a sign to get some recognition. He says he understands the crime problem as well as anyone.

"My bike was stolen, a friend's truck was broken into . . . people are sick of it," he said. A drug dealer was shot in his neighborhood, he said. He favors no parole for violent offenders. "I would also attack the license privileges of youthful offenders who steal cars to go joy riding," he said.

Mr. Dowling and David Lubrani, 26, of Towson, a partner in a mortgage firm, represent an especially frustrated segment of the community: youth.

Said Mr. Lubrani, "Many young people are running because they're frustrated with the system. State government needs young, dynamic representatives. State House shenanigans are over."

Spending, taxes

Government spending "must come down, and so must taxes," '' he said. "You can't tax your way to prosperity. It's time to stand up and say, 'Enough!' "

None of this is news to Martha S. Klima, 55, of Lutherville, and A. Wade Kach, 47, of Cockeysville, Republican incumbents in the district.

Ms. Klima, who began her career in the House in 1983, agrees that crime and taxes are the two enduring issues in this election.

"Crime has grown as an issue in the county because it's hitting closer to home," she said.

"Auto thefts have increased enormously, light rail is bringing crime to the suburbs, it just goes on and on. I only have two items in my capital budget: prisons and schools. What's the point of constructing more buildings downtown when people are afraid to go there.

"We need stronger punishment for young offenders. Whatever we're doing now is not working."

She said the best way to control taxes is to control spending.

"We all know there's a lot of waste in government; I see it every day in Annapolis," Ms. Klima said. "We need to restructure state government and get rid of the many duplicative programs."

Mr. Kach, a member of the House since 1975, also sees the waste in government, and understands it better than most because he is an auditor with the county school system.

"Other legislators are always coming to me to explain some financial statement to them," he said.

"I see millions of dollars being wasted every year in agency after agency because of lax controls. The system needs to be reformed and tightened, because it's wide open to fraud and waste."

Yet, Mr. Kach said, "Public safety is the No. 1 charge to government. The public perceives the system as being lenient on criminals, and they're tired of it."

Mr. Kach said he wants more prisons built, and opposes parole for violent offenders. "The cost of imprisonment is dwarfed by the cost of crime," he said.

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