District 35 candidates say incumbent's time is up CAMPAIGN 1994

September 11, 1994|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writer

Gwendalynne Corkran and Ruth James decided to run for the District 35 Senate seat for the same reason: To unseat longtime incumbent William H. Amoss.

The women, seeking the Republican nomination in Tuesday's primary, think Mr. Amoss, a Democrat, has been in office long enough. The 57-year-old senator is unopposed in the primary.

"I've watched the current senator for 20 years sit on the fence," Mrs. James said. "Twenty years is too long for anything except marriage."

Her GOP opponent agrees. "We had a gentleman who had never had serious competition. No incumbent is unbeatable," said Mrs. Corkran.

Mr. Amoss, who has been in the Senate for 11 years after serving as a District 35 delegate for seven years, doesn't take his incumbency for granted. "I don't expect to get elected if I don't work hard," he said.

The senatorial district comprises Harford and Cecil counties. Harford elects two delegates in District 35A, the third in District 35B is selected by Cecil voters.

"They are diverse. They like the rural atmosphere," Mr. Amoss said of his constituents. "Most have jobs and work hard. . . . They don't want more taxes."

The senator, who has been endorsed by the United Auto Workers, is relying on his track record for re-election. "I know how to make cuts in the budget," said Mr. Amoss, who calls himself a fiscal moderate. For the past four years, he has chaired a legislative committee on transportation, public safety, natural resources and economic development.

In the Nov. 8 general election, Mr. Amoss will face the Republican winner of Tuesday's primary and Catharine Wilson, an independent candidate who collected more than 2,000 signatures to place her name on the ballot.

Views of contenders

Mrs. Wilson also thinks a change is due. "It's time for some new ideas and fresh thoughts," said the 58-year-old mother of County Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson.

The 40-year Street resident will run on a campaign of less government regulation and more focus on education, she said.

Mrs. James is chairwoman of the county Republican Central Committee. Mrs. Corkran is a past vice chairwoman.

"I've spent my whole life working behind the scenes for effective, good government," said Mrs. Corkran, who lives near Bel Air. "I have lobbied locally, in Annapolis and in Washington. I have a smattering of understanding of how the three governments work."

The local business owner of a criminal rehabilitation placement program is running on a platform of tax cuts, spending controls, alternative approaches for first-time criminals and education reform.

The 45-year-old wife and mother of a teen-age daughter supports looking more closely at an educational voucher system. The most common plan allows the government to offer parents the opportunity to use part of the amount it spends per student toward paying for private education.

Mrs. Corkran, who has a degree in government administration, plans to spend the final hours of the primary campaign putting up more signs, passing out literature and visiting precincts Tuesday. "It's a grass-roots campaign," said the candidate, who has raised $10,112 from "mostly small personal donations."

Mrs. James, a project manager for an employee benefits consulting firm in Owings Mills, has raised $3,489 for her campaign -- most of it from personal contributions. "I'm committed to that extent, to put my own money on the line."

In addition to being elected to the Central Committee in 1990, Mrs. James has been involved in the American Association of University Women and has often lobbied in Annapolis as chairwoman of its public policy committee.

Her main campaign focus is jobs.

"That one issue impacts everything, crime, welfare reform, responsible spending, high taxes, and bringing jobs to Maryland," the Monkton resident said. "When people are

working, they aren't out stealing."

Point of disagreement

She said crime is one issue on which she and Mrs. Corkran disagree. "She's in a for-profit business for presentencing alternatives," said Mrs. James, referring to the criminal rehabilitation placement program Mrs. Corkran runs. Mrs. James supports more serious penalties for first-time offenders. "Community service is not enough of a lesson."

She also backs a boot-camp approach for young offenders.

In regard to jobs, Mrs. James favors low-cost state loans to businesses and tax breaks to entice companies to settle in the state. She also supports term limits for elected officials and spending caps.

The 41-year-old wife and mother also is committed to education. Mrs. James went to the weekend College of Notre Dame when her son was 4 and earned her bachelor's degree in human resources while working full-time. She also got a master's degree at the Johns Hopkins University. "I'm a workaholic," she admits. "I'm willing to put in the number of hours to get the job done."

Mrs. James will continue her juggling act on Tuesday when she'll go to work in the morning and then visit precincts afterward.

In the District 35 House of Delegates race, incumbent Donald C. Fry and Joseph V. Lutz are unopposed for the Democratic nominations. Incumbent James M. Harkins and James F. Greenwell also are without opposition for the Republican nominations.

Delegates Fry and Harkins are completing their first four-year terms.

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