Republican state Senate candidate David P. Maier charged at a candidates forum last night that his Democratic opponent is a "professional politician" who doesn't have the same commitment District 12 residents that he does.
"I believe we're tired of professional politicians," said Mr. Maier, referring to Edward J. Kasemeyer, a former two-term state senator from western Howard County. "He'll say what needs to be said to be elected. You have to stand for something, be something."
In an interview after the forum, Mr. Kasemeyer, 49, called Mr. Maier's comment a "joke statement."
"I don't think serving two terms is being a professional politician," he said.
Mr. Maier, 37, a lifelong Elkridge resident, emphasized his roots in the community at the forum attended by about 60 seniors at the Vantage House retirement community in Columbia.
Mr. Kasemeyer stressed the need to reduce violence, advocating gun control measures, such as licensing and safety training, as one component of a broader crime-control effort. He said solutions to crime eventually must come from communities.
Mr. Maier, who owns a home restoration business, questioned Mr. Kasemeyer's motives for moving from the west county -- the district he represented from 1983 to 1990 before losing to Republican state Sen. Christopher J. McCabe -- to Columbia since the last election.
"It speaks to commitment," Mr. Maier said. "I'm committed to my district."
District 12 includes most of west Columbia, Elkridge and southwestern Baltimore County.
Mr. Kasemeyer has said that he moved to a Columbia condominium he has owned since 1977 from Ellicott City in March for personal, not political, reasons. He lived in West Friendship during his eight years representing District 14 in the Maryland Senate.
He said he represented west Columbia before redistricting in 1992. He also said he has been involved in the community as an officer with the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, the Howard County Housing Alliance and the Association for Retarded Citizens.
Mr. Maier emphasized his experience as an owner of a small business that offers health insurance to five employees and said that civic and ecumenical groups can address many community problems without being dependent upon government.
Mr. Kasemeyer recommended stimulating economic growth by easing regulations that unduly hinder businesses and offering tax incentives for depressed areas.
In the race for County Council in District 4, Democrat Mary Lorsung, an assistant to west Columbia Councilman Paul Farragut, emphasized the need to improve public transportation and housing options. Republican Riaz Rana stressed the management skills he has developed in running Statistica Inc., a high-technology company that employed 400 and generated $38 million in revenue last year.
In the race for the House of Delegates seat in District 12B, Republican Charles E. Scott, a University of Maryland senior, said he'd be more able to work with the current Republican-dominated county delegation than Democratic opponent Elizabeth Bobo.
He said he would concentrate on constituent service, which he performed as an intern for two Howard delegates this year.
Ms. Bobo, the former Howard County executive, said her priorities are public safety, education, finance and taxes, senior citizens and transportation. She said legislators must "develop more integrity" on taxing and spending issues, saying they advocate new programs and projects but aren't willing to pay for them.