Glendening and Rehrmann open walkway without crossing over into politics Governor's race rivals cordial at Harford school

September 13, 1997|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening met his Democratic primary challenger, Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, on her home turf yesterday. Their encounter couldn't have been more cordial.

At the opening of a pedestrian underpass to service North Harford elementary, middle and high schools, the two were all smiles. Glendening thanked the county executive several times during his speech, and when it was her turn to take to the podium, Rehrmann thanked the governor.

Neither wanted to discuss the gubernatorial campaign that will pit them against each other in September's Democratic primary.

"I don't see politics in this," Glendening said after emerging from the underpass. "I want to focus on education and the safety of the students."

Rehrmann also deflected questions about her candidacy and her future opponent's visit yesterday, instead focusing on the event.

"The office of governor is important to community events like this," Rehrmann said. "We're glad [Glendening] made the commitment to make available the funds to help the county complete the project, which is so vital to this community."

Rehrmann, who announced her candidacy in May, has been making appearances throughout the state to raise her visibility and name recognition. But yesterday was filled with photo opportunities for the governor.

There was Glendening in the audience with the students, forgoing a seat up front during the program.

Later, the governor was surrounded by children holding placards that spelled out "Welcome Governor Glendening," as the high school a cappella choir sang "Maryland, My Maryland."

And there were plenty of handshakes and greetings for parents, teachers and staff after Glendening led a group of students through the $267,000 underpass, which was funded by the state and county and will enable students to avoid crossing the heavily traveled Route 165.

As Glendening prepared to pull the ribbon to open the underpass, he asked Rehrmann to "in the spirit of cooperation and wonderfulness, help me with this."

Del. Donald C. Fry, a Harford County Democrat, said the gathering was about the need for state and local officials to work together.

"At some point there will be differences of opinion between them, but this is not that type of event," Fry said. "It's important that county and state work together and they both recognize their role. Their speeches certainly reflect that, they were both very gracious."

At least one potential voter watched yesterday's event with interest. Jenni Parrish, a 17-year-old senior at North Harford High School, will be eligible to vote for governor in the next election and said she looks forward to learning more about the candidates.

"I'll have to wait and hear their speeches," Parrish said. "I'll make my decision once I hear what they each have to say."

Pub Date: 9/13/97

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