State senators are elected to attend to the interests of the general public, but Larry Haines, the Republican incumbent in the Fifth District, has made a practice of lavishing his attention on special interests during his first term.
If you are mortician, real estate agent or recreational vehicle dealer, Mr. Haines won't hesitate to put a bill in the hopper for you.
But Mr. Haines feels no such obligation for the commissioners of this county, for instance. After the commissioners earlier this year approved the creation of a women's commission at the county level, Mr. Haines, along with others in Carroll's State House delegation, refused to introduce the enabling legislation necessary to create the advisory body.
Mr. Haines has also been quick to place the desires of fundamentalist ministers before the interests of children. He championed a bill that would have exempted all church-sponsored day care centers from state licensing and regulation. His advocacy of broader use of corporal punishment, in a county where child abuse is already a problem, demonstrates a horrendous insensitivity to the welfare of youngsters.
If he devoted as much attention to Carroll matters as he does to efforts to re-impose prayer in school and dictate the content of school textbooks, his constituents would be better served.
Mr. Haines also introduced several bills dealing with crime, although many of them seemed driven more by personal outrage than clear legal thinking. One measure would allow judges to impose the death penalty in cases where innocent bystanders are murdered in drive-by shootings. Another would make it a felony to transport a minor into Maryland to sell drugs.
His opponent, Cynthia Cummings, a Democrat and president of the Carroll County Education Association, is the preferable choice for this seat. She understands the importance of public education. She wouldn't waste her time trying to turn back the clock on issues such as abortion and school prayer.
Ms. Cummings would do a much better job of representing the county's general interests. Voters in the Fifth District should cast their ballots for her.