Democratic incumbent faces GOP novice in 47B CAMPAIGN 1994

October 31, 1994|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,Sun Staff Writer

The two candidates in the race for the one delegate seat in District 47B, a horseshoe-shaped legislative subdistrict on the west side of Baltimore County, are opposites not only in political party, but in age, experience and background.

Republican Steve Cumby, who ran unopposed in the primary, is challenging Democrat Thomas E. Dewberry, an incumbent seeking his second term.

Both candidates, lifelong Baltimore County residents, said the usual issues -- education, welfare reform, government spending and crime -- top their priorities, and both boast of being accessible to constituents.

Mr. Cumby is 28, works as a food service specialist in Columbia rTC and lives in Catonsville with his wife. He has no children. He received an associate arts degree in culinary arts from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I., and has taken courses at Essex and Catonsville Community colleges.

Mr. Dewberry, 43, is a hearing examiner with the state Public Service Commission. He lives in Catonsville with his wife and two children. A University of Maryland Baltimore County graduate, he received a law degree from the University of Baltimore Law School in 1977.

Mr. Cumby said that it's no problem that he never has held elected office. "A lot of people are happy to see younger people getting involved," he said. He wants to serve only one or two terms and hopes to bring a "common-sense" approach to Annapolis.

Mr. Dewberry almost lost his seat in the primary -- getting only 2 percent more votes than his opponent, John K. Milani.

"I think redistricting was one thing," he said. "I was outspent by better than 2-to-1 by my primary opponent, and there was a late negative campaign that was put out by my opponent in the primary. . . ."

However, he does have name recognition, which Mr. Cumby doesn't. Mr. Cumby said he has knocked on more than 6,000 doors to increase his recognition. There was a positive result, he said: If elected, he will know what his constituency wants.

Mr. Dewberry, whose father, Frederick L. Dewberry, was a legislator and Baltimore County executive, is running on his four-year record, the high point of which, he said, was his sponsorship of legislation that passed in the 1994 General Assembly to create a program giving job training to youths at the Hickey School for juvenile offenders.

Redistricting after the 1990 census created new boundaries for the once all-city 47th District, which has two subdistricts and two-thirds of its population in the city and a third in the county. Subdistrict 47B, all in the county, has 11,763 registered Democrats and 5,500 Republicans.

The race for the 47th District Senate seat, like that for the 47B delegate spot, involves an inexperienced Republican facing off against a Democratic incumbent.

John A. Hoffman, 69, of Catonsville, ran unopposed in the Republican primary. The produce grower, who has lived in the same house and farmed all his life, is a high school graduate who has been married for 43 years and has three children.

He is running against George W. Della, 51, who lives in South Baltimore, is a 1972 graduate of the University of Baltimore Law School and was a city councilman from 1976 to 1983. Mr. Della is divorced and has a son, 11, who told him this summer, "Dad, get a life," because he was spending too much time campaigning, Mr. Della said.

He has been a senator from the 47th since 1983. Now that the district includes part of the county, "Basically, I've got two masters," Mr. Della said.

"Before, you had your city at heart and knew the help the city needed. Now you have another factor, and you have to take into consideration what's in the best interest in the county," he said.

Mr. Della said he is proud of his environmental record on air quality laws and fighting to get the Chesapeake Bay cleaned up and his history of getting liquor laws toughened in his district.

Mr. Hoffman, who said his only public service has been with the Maryland Farm Bureau, described himself as "tough on crime." He said he opposes politicians like Mr. Della holding office too long. "I don't think he should own the office," he said.

His goals include controlling government spending, seeking tougher sentences for criminals and making government less hostile to business. He said that the educational system needs an overhaul.

"I'm going on a shoestring," he said. "I'm doing it without special interest groups."

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