Senator Amoss touts experience HARFORD COUNTY ELECTION 1994

October 23, 1994|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writer

State Sen. William A. Amoss is feeling the heat this fall in his campaign for re-election in District 35, which encompasses portions of Harford and Cecil counties.

The 20-year elected official is facing two challengers: Republican Gwendalynne G. Corkran and Independent Catharine Wilson.

"I'm running a hard campaign . . . as hard as the first time I ran for Senate," said Mr. Amoss, a Democrat. The senator was elected to office in 1982, after serving eight years as a delegate.

He's banking on his experience to carry him through in the Nov. 8 general election.

"In a brand-new Senate, do you want someone who has never given service? . . . Those with experience will be an important part for the next several years," Mr. Amoss, 57, said, referring to a turnover in the Senate that will result in about 20 new members. "It is important for Harford County to keep some continuity,"

However, Mrs. Corkran and Mrs. Wilson say voters are ready for a change. "I'm a fresh voice, an informed voice," said Mrs. Corkran, 45, who has 20 years of community-service experience. "As an incumbent, people tend to get into a rut."

Mrs. Wilson, 58, a community activist and mother of outgoing County Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson, said, "We need new perspectives. It's time for some new ideas and fresh thoughts." She is running on a platform of less government.

Mr. Amoss sees his biggest challenge in the campaign as getting across the message that he has taken a strong stand against taxes. "I can say no to taxes and cut the budget," the chairman of the Senate budget and tax sub committee said.

Mr. Amoss, an auctioneer from Fallston, said the early 1990s were difficult years with the economic downturn. But, he stressed, the state income tax rate has not been raised since 1969.

Higher income taxes are the result of federal increases, he said.

"We're still paying," Mrs. Corkran said, citing the snack tax. Last year, Maryland began charging a 5 percent sales tax on snacks and prepared foods bought in grocery stores. "I do not believe he represents the area in a proper manner."

Mr. Amoss said the main reason for the snack tax was that it taxes "persons not paying taxes but using services."

The senator acknowledged that when the General Assembly reconvenes in January, cuts need to be made in the budget. "We cannot spend," he said, proposing to combine agencies and services to make reductions.

"We need to focus on workfare not welfare," he said. "That way we can put somebody on the [tax] rolls, one by one, to pay taxes instead of taking taxes."

Mrs. Wilson also seeks to change the welfare system. "I would like to phase out welfare as we know it over two to four years," she said. "We need to emphasize self-reliance and personal responsibility with welfare parents, then, a new generation will emerge."

The 40-year Highland resident said her biggest challenge in the campaign has been getting people to know who she is and what she is about. The former PTA president, farm manager and owner of an office supply company collected more than 2,000 signatures to get her name on the ballot as an Independent.

"I need to find independent thinkers," Mrs. Wilson said. The former Republican said she became an Independent candidate because "both [political] parties seem more interested in power for the party instead of better government."

She is opposed to gun control and supports tougher sentences for violent offenders. The most important issue, she said, is the expanding government and its cost. "Wherever possible, government activities should return to the private sector," she said.

Mrs. Corkran said one major difference between her and her opponents is her educational background. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in government administration.

"I understand how it works," she said. "After 20 years, he [Mr. Amoss] may know more things than I do, but it won't take me long to pick up on it."

She also added, "My political background is stronger than Catharine's."

Mrs. Corkran, of Bel Air, has been involved in several political organizations, including the Harford County Republican Club, which she founded. In 1990, she was elected to the Harford County Republican Central Committee.

Mrs. Corkran, owner of a criminal rehabilitation placement business, supports alternative sentencing options for first-time offenders. But she thinks the courts should give stricter sentences to repeat offenders.

With education, she would like to look more closely at a voucher system that would allow parents the option of sending their children to private schools.

;/ Her chief stance, though, is cutting taxes.

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