District 35A candidates agree to take high road CAMPAIGN 1994

November 06, 1994|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writer

It's been a gentlemanly race, say candidates for the District 35A House of Delegates seats.

"It's never been anything but civility," Republican incumbent James M. Harkins said. "We take the high road."

"There's been no negative campaigning," Republican James F. Greenwell agreed. "I like it that way."

Mr. Harkins, Mr. Greenwell, Democrat incumbent Donald C. Fry and Democrat Joseph V. Lutz are vying for two spots in the House. They were spared the primary election because there were two candidates in each party running for the offices. But that doesn't mean they haven't been stumping through their district, which stretches from burgeoning Fallston to rural Pylesville.

It's also an area that's pretty much split politically, with 53 percent registered Democrats and 47 percent registered Republicans.

"We've knocked on thousands of doors," Mr. Harkins said of his campaign. "You have to ask for every vote. We're not taking anything for granted."

Mr. Harkins, 40, and Mr. Fry, 39, are seeking their second four-year terms. Mr. Lutz, a delegate from 1982 to 1990, said the anti-incumbency trend in 1990 had worked against his re-election.

"I like being a public servant. I believe I did a good job during my eight years in the legislature," said Mr. Lutz, 46. He is relying on his past achievements, which he said include obtaining funding for Fallston Middle School and North Bend Elementary, the Interstate 95-Route 152 interchange and reforming worker's compensation.

Mr. Greenwell, 34, is a political newcomer. "I'm a blue-collar worker. I feel that I understand the same things that so many people do," the machine tool builder said. "I'm concerned about what government is doing."

Surprisingly, the candidates hold similar views in areas ranging bTC from education to crime to welfare.

While they all support money for education and new schools, Mr. Fry also thinks finances alone aren't the answer. "We need strong accountability measures," he said of school performance. Taxpayers can't keep throwing in money without getting something back."

All agree that crime needs to be tackled more vigorously, from truth-in-sentencing laws to adding police to the streets to stricter punishments for juvenile offenders. "We need to tell criminals, 'Yes, you're going to be caught. Yes, you're going to be punished,' " Mr. Lutz said.

He is the only candidate to support gun measures affecting all citizens. "I believe law-abiding citizen should own guns, but they should be registered and licensed," he said. "There is a %o responsibility that goes with owning a gun."

But, he added, "We need to get tougher on those using guns during the commission of a crime."

The other candidates, while opposing licensing, agree that guns used in crimes need more attention. "Crime control and gun control are two different issues. We need to look at who is pushing the trigger," Mr. Harkins said.

Welfare reform is another big issue. "Welfare is not a handout and not a way of life," Mr. Fry said.

The candidates favor some government support until a welfare recipient can learn a job skill and support himself. They also recommend community service until employment becomes available, and support stipulations for receiving aid, such as prenatal care and requiring parents to send children to school.

Mr. Lutz and Mr. Greenwell are concerned about small businesses.

"My biggest goal is to work for business," Mr. Greenwell said. "A lot of small-business owners have had it with taxes and regulations."

"The state needs a tactical and strategic business plan," said Mr. Lutz, a computer specialist. "The key aspect is to be able to let small business grow and attract other small businesses to the state. If there are small businesses, we will attract major manufacturers."

The candidates differ, though, in campaign fund-raising. The incumbents have gathered from 10 to 40 times as much money as their opponents: Mr. Fry raised $80,441; Mr. Harkins, $53,999; Mr. Greenwell, $5,790; and Mr. Lutz, $2,127.

"This time I did not solicit from special interest groups," said Mr. Lutz, who added $550 from political action committees to his account. "I received some, but it was not solicited. Ninety percent was out of my pocket. I wanted to be a truly independent Democrat."

Mr. Greenwell said he did not accept any PAC money.

Mr. Fry received $17,720 in PAC contributions, and Mr. Harkins, $13,210.

Both incumbents say their service to their constituents speaks for itself.

"I share the frustration that many people have with government," said Mr. Fry, an attorney. "It's too big. We need to look at restructuring."

He points to his participation in a bill that created the Efficiency 2000 Commission. The task force's charge is to look at state government and make recommendations on its role and efficiency.

Mr. Fry also cites his involvement in the House of Delegates' two budget committees. "We don't need to increase taxes if we prioritize spending," he said. "The time is ripe for us to do things differently."

His Republican counterpart shares that philosophy. "We need to be more efficient. We need to do more with less," said Mr. Harkins, a sergeant in the sheriff's department.

Mr. Harkins' impetus when he ran for office four years ago was criminal justice. But since 1990, he said, "I've blossomed from a one-issue person to much more. I saw the importance of constituent service. It's very rewarding to help someone get over a hurdle."

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