Democratic and Republican nominees for General Assembly seats in Districts 13 and 13B stated their positions on issues ranging from gun control to a proposed Redskins stadium at a candidates forum last night in North Laurel.
During the forum, the candidates may have set the tone for the campaign as they laced their comments with attacks on their opponents.
About 30 people attended the forum at Laurel Woods Elementary School.
In written questions read by a moderator, those in attendance asked the four candidates where they stood on the stadium issue; if they have received contributions from lobbyists who represent the Redskins; and if they voted for the state's health care reform package.
Some residents fear the proposed 78,600-seat stadium would worsen traffic problems, increase crime and drive down their property values.
"I oppose the stadium and I will continue to oppose the stadium," said Del. John S. Morgan, a 29-year-old Republican who is seeking the state Delegate seat in District 13B. "Now, if I could only pin down my opponent on the stadium issue."
John A. Giannetti, 30, the Democratic newcomer, was often defensive last night, hedging his position on such volatile issues as the proposed stadium.
"If you're not willing to lie down in front of a bulldozer with Jack Kent Cooke's name on it, people think you're for the stadium," Mr. Giannetti said. "That stadium belongs in D.C. [But] I would hold a town meeting to see what the community wanted."
Mr. Giannetti defeated former Laurel Mayor Joseph Robison in the Sept. 13 primary and now faces Mr. Morgan in the Nov. 8 general election.
Other candidates at the forum were Republican Del. Martin G. Madden and Democratic Del. Virginia M. Thomas, who are vying for the District 13 state Senate seat. They repeated charges they first hurled at each other just after the Sept. 13 primary.
Mr. Madden, 45, said Ms. Thomas, 53, had never seen a tax increase she didn't like.
She criticized him for voting against a 1992 state budget that increased taxes she said were necessary to avoid harmful cuts in public safety in Howard.
During the 1990 general election, Mr. Madden and Mr. Morgan found their strongest supporters in North Laurel and some residents repeated their support for the Madden-Morgan team last night.
"I'm really tired of people who try to weasel [out] on every issue," said Robb Mackie. "That's why I like Marty Madden and John Morgan. I don't agree with them on every issue, but at least I know they're going to state their position."
Most of District 13B's voters live south of North Laurel in a mostly Democratic area of Prince George's County. Most of the District 13 voters live to the north in East Columbia, where Ms. Thomas has strong support.