Who is Stephen Bounds?

September 19, 1994

In the modern argot of political insiders, there is something called a stealth candidate. Usually it refers to someone with a hidden agenda, which only becomes clear after an election when it comes time to put the agenda into play.

Attorney Stephen C. Bounds, who finished a surprise second in last Tuesday's primary for the Howard County Board of Education, is said by some to be such a candidate. Now that Mr. Bounds appears to be a front-runner for one of two vacancies on the board, he is coming under increased scrutiny from those who are concerned that he espouses a Christian fundamentalist point of view.

For the record, Mr. Bounds is a parishioner at the Chapelgate Presbyterian Church, a conservative Marriottsville congregation that has as members several top elected Republican officials in the county. Mr. Bounds lists his affiliation with Chapelgate on his campaign literature, and when asked about his membership in the church, says that his religious beliefs have nothing to do with his views on public policy.

A strong proponent of a back-to-basics philosophy, Mr. Bounds says that too much time is devoted to trying to build a student's self-esteem rather than honing traditional academic skills. He feels that sex education should focus on abstinence. He also believes that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in the public schools, although he concedes that doing so may not be legal. And he contends that multi-culturalism, the teaching of different cultures and their history, may in some instances be overemphasized to the detriment of traditional historic figures.

Mr. Bounds' surprise showing in the primary has rightly prompted more intense interest in his candidacy. No one is suggesting that his religious affiliation disqualifies him from holding public office. But since he has listed his church on his campaign brochures, voters have a right to question what that signals. If it indicates an intent to push a certain ideology, then Mr. Bounds will want to step forward and make that clear. So far he hasn't done anything to suggest that he is hiding from the questions, which would be a sure sign of a stealth candidacy. In the end, he should be judged no differently than all candidates for public office -- for his stands on issues of public concern.

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