Supporters of two judges to hold fund-raiser tonight $100-a-plate event for Leasure, Hill Staton

January 11, 1996|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,SUN STAFF

Supporters of Circuit Judges Diane O. Leasure and Donna Hill Staton will hold a $100-a-plate fund-raiser in Columbia's Town Center as scheduled tonight, despite the blizzard that left layers of snow in the area.

"Obviously, the weather is going to make a dent in attendance," said Lin Eagan, campaign manager of the judges' political committee.

Ms. Eagan said the storm likely will prevent a number of supporters from attending the 6 p.m. gathering at the Spear Center in the Rouse Building on Little Patuxent Parkway. But she said many people have pledged to send contributions even if they don't come.

Robert H. Levan, the campaign's finance chairman, said he expected to sell 300 to 400 tickets for the event, the campaign's major fund-raiser.

"There's a lot of receptivity to the candidates," Mr. Levan said. "There are a lot of people who are most enthusiastically coming out for this one."

Judges Leasure and Hill Staton, appointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, are being challenged in the March 5 primary election by Howard District Judge Lenora R. Gelfman and lawyers Jonathan Scott Smith and Jay Fred Cohen.

Judge Gelfman and Mr. Smith entered the race Nov. 28 as running mates, contending they were more qualified than the new judges.

They held a $35-per-person fund-raiser Dec. 13, but haven't yet said how much they raised. They plan to hold a $60-per-person event at the Turf Valley Country Club on Feb. 10.

The pair also have campaigned at busy county intersections, and their organization has put up signs, including a large two-sided placard across the parking lot from the Circuit Court building.

The two eventually will air cable television commercials, said spokeswoman Chevy Fleischman.

Mr. Cohen joined the field Dec. 15. He said he has received only one cash donation, a $50 contribution. He's also accepted a donation of 40,000 brochures from a client and his brother, he said.

"We're not raising money, and we're not looking for money," he said. "What I'm trying to do is a grass-roots kind of thing."

Judge Leasure became the county's first female circuit judge when she was sworn in Nov. 13, and Judge Hill Staton became the county's first black judge to sit on either the District or Circuit bench when she took office Nov. 20. Both, however, must win election to 15-year terms.

Ms. Eagan said the campaign for Judges Leasure and Hill Staton plans to use money from the fund-raiser for signs and other advertising. She said the event will be the campaign's major fund-raising effort, but said she expected a small gathering to be held next month.

She said the two judges have received broad support from Howard County's legal community and from large law firms outside the county. One firm lending key support, she said, is Piper & Marbury, a Baltimore law firm.

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