'Running against Mother Teresa'

January 11, 1995

One of the first orders of business once the General Assembly begins its 1995 session today is the election of a treasurer for the state of Maryland. Few people know about this post, yet it is one of the pivotal jobs in state government.

There probably won't be much of a contest in the balloting. Two-time incumbent Lucille D. Maurer wants another term -- and she has the backing of House Speaker Casper R. Taylor, who controls a majority of votes needed for election.

Mrs. Maurer's most intriguing challenger is Carroll County Del. Richard N. Dixon, a staunchly conservative black delegate from a rural part of the Baltimore region. Mr. Dixon has won praise for his work on budget panels and as co-chair of the Joint Budget and Audit Committee. His extensive background in finance and investment practices, plus his knowledge of the legislature, would make him an ideal candidate under normal circumstances.

But Mrs. Maurer has a distinct advantage. During her 18 years in the House of Delegates, she emerged as a fiscal leader of the Ways and Means Committee. She also is widely admired for her diplomatic skills. As Mr. Dixon put it, opposing Lucie Maurer is "like running against Mother Teresa."

Still, Mrs. Maurer is not without her flaws. The most important aspect of her job -- aside from investing state funds prudently -- is to represent the legislature on the Board of Public Works. Critics have charged that too often she acquiesced to the wishes of an insistent William Donald Schaefer rather than feel the wrath of a belligerent governor. Controversial procurement contracts won board approval even though numerous legislators questioned the validity of the bidding process. Mrs. Maurer rarely objected to these procedures.

At age 72, Mrs. Maurer and 81-year-old Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein will represent the institutional memory of the board. They also will form a counterweight to the third board member -- Gov.-elect Parris N. Glendening. As a newcomer, Mr. Glendening will need the guidance of these two veteran officials. At the same time, they should not hesitate to oppose the governor over matters small and large. The board awards hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts every year. Sometimes, the right step for Mrs. Maurer and Mr. Goldstein would be to just say "no."

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