District 30 Senate hopefuls put forth similar agendas CAMPAIGN 1994

October 16, 1994|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Sun Staff Writer

For 16 years, state Sen. Gerald W. Winegrad built his legislative career by championing environmental causes. But that issue is the only one the candidates running to fill his District 30 Senate seat aren't talking about.

Instead, Del. John C. Astle and Arundel Circuit Court Clerk Mary McNally Rose are focusing on crime, education, taxes and the size of the government bureaucracy.

Mr. Astle, 51, a Democrat who served 12 years in the House of Delegates, is hoping his reputation as a fiscal moderate and steady constituent servant will carry him to higher office. Mrs. Rose, 48, a conservative Republican, is campaigning on her experience as a personnel manager in the Reagan administration and as clerk of the court.

District 30, which includes Annapolis, Arnold and Mayo, has 27,301 registered Democrats and 21,319 registered Republicans.

Mr. Astle, who entered the Senate race after Mr. Winegrad decided not to seek re-election, was unchallenged in the Democratic primary and received 8,166 votes. Mrs. Rose, received 5,155 votes in the Republican primary and soundly defeated one challenger.

Although Mr. Astle has shown the ability to pick up more votes, Mrs. Rose has raised more money. Her most recent campaign financing report shows she had spent $34,179 and had a balance of $9,165. Mr. Astle had spent $23,191 and had $9,251 left.

The candidates have similar legislative agendas, but they differ on how best to achieve their objectives.

xTC Both are looking to reduce the size of government and save the taxpayers money. Mrs. Rose supports Ellen Sauerbrey, the Republican candidate for governor, who wants to reduce the state income tax by 24 percent during the next four years. Mr. Astle promises to fight any new taxes, but doubts the Sauerbrey tax proposal can be achieved without cutting essential services.

Both say they want to fight crime. Mr. Astle supports increased controls on handguns. Mrs. Rose opposes new gun control measures. She has called for stiffer sentencing and eliminating parole for violent offenders. Mr. Astle points out that longer sentences will require the state to spend more on prisons.

Their sharpest differences are on the question of abortion. Mr. Astle supports abortion rights and favors extension of Medicaid to cover the abortions of poor women. Mrs. Rose opposes abortion and the extension of the benefits.

Early in the campaign, Mrs. Rose questioned Mr. Astle's leadership ability. Mr. Astle, a Vietnam veteran and colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves, bristled at the suggestion. He pointed to the several years he headed the county's delegation and to numerous awards he has received from organizations. "I think my record pretty clearly shows I have leadership ability," he said.

Mr. Astle acknowledges, however, that he has not distinguished himself as a champion of one particular cause. "I've been more of a generalist," he said.

He has sponsored legislation to prevent criminals convicted of violent crimes from being released by a court commissioner if they are charged with a second violent crime. He succeeded in fighting attempts by the state police to close Maryland roads to foot races. And he is most proud of his work to improve the state's MedEvac system.

He has lived in Annapolis for 19 years and was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1983. He flies MedEvac helicopters for the Washington Hospital System.

Mrs. Rose, a former nurse, accuses Mr. Astle of growing complacent in the job. "He's just not reached out to the community," she said.

She has lived in Annapolis 22 years and been active in the Republican Party since the early 1970s. In 1979, she became chairwoman of Ronald Reagan's campaign in Anne Arundel and afterward joined his administration. She worked for the Office of Personnel Management, headed the White House personnel office and served as a deputy undersecretary of education.

She left Washington in 1988 and was elected chairman of the Anne Arundel Republican Central Committee.

Although aligned with the more conservative elements in the state GOP, she was given an award in 1989 for helping bring the Republican factions together.

In 1990, she upset incumbent H. Erle Schafer in a race for clerk of the Circuit Court. She says she has streamlined the management of the clerk's office and helped save $1.2 million in four years.

But it is questionable how much of those savings can be attributed to her. The same year she was elected, clerks offices were placed under the management of the Administrative Office of the Courts.

That office, which must approve the budgets of the court clerks, instituted a hiring freeze and furloughs during Mrs. Rose's term.

George B. Riggin Jr., the state court administrator, says the bulk of the savings came from state-mandated cuts.

"Virtually every clerk in the state came in under budget because they had the same restraints," Mr. Riggin said.

Mrs. Rose said she decided to run for the Senate because she wanted new challenges. "I can't sit in one place for long," she said. Her objective, she said, is to "make government serve people better."

Top on her agenda is looking for ways to cut taxes.

Mrs. Rose wants to start her reform by scrutinizing the budgets of state agencies. She also wants to overhaul the state's personnel system and abolish the state's personnel department.

She says she also is concerned about the bureaucracy in the public school systems. She favors elected school boards and giving more autonomy to teachers and principals.

She is calling for an expansion of the boot camp system for young criminals, stiffer sentences for violent offenders and expanded drug treatment programs. She also would limit post-conviction appeals.

"Anything that is innovative and creative, we have to try," she said.

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