Pendergrass says worries about fast growth remain as she seeks re-election Campaign kickoff planned where her career began

June 05, 1998|By Gady A. Epstein | Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF

Democratic Del. Shane Pendergrass returns tomorrow to Savage, the place she says made her a politician more than a decade ago, to announce her bid for a second term in Annapolis.

Pendergrass lives in Kings Contrivance, but she made her name in 1984 as an activist in Savage, where she says school crowding and fast residential development spurred her into politics.

"I started working then to slow growth and to build schools," said Pendergrass, 48.

As a private citizen, she lost a battle to stop developers from building 1,200 homes off Gorman Road in a subdivision called Bowling Brook Farms. She then decided to run for a seat on the County Council in 1986.

"Our first fund-raiser was a bake sale at the Wawa," Pendergrass recalls. "All our friends baked brownies and cookies, and we raised probably $40, and we had a book with a pink cover called 'Getting Her Elected.' "

Pendergrass won that election, then another term on the County Council, before running for the House of Delegates in southern Howard's District 13A in 1994. She was the top vote-getter in that race, and her name recognition and 12 years in public office make her a tough opponent this year.

She and fellow 13A Democratic Del. Frank S. Turner, running together in the two-delegate district, are likely to face Republicans Hans K. Meeder and Michael Grasso in the general election. Meeder is running for the first time; Grasso almost beat Turner in 1994.

Pendergrass formally kicks off her re-election campaign at Savage Fest '98 at 12: 30 p.m.

Pendergrass touts two bills she worked to pass this year, a children's health initiative that will eventually provide coverage for 60,000 children, and a bill allowing people to appeal when a health insurer denies care. She also rattles off the county delegation's accomplishments in the past four years.

"We brought home $36 million to build schools, $5 million to preserve the Smith Farm and $23 million to build interchanges," Pendergrass said.

One of her likely Republican opponents, Meeder, has attacked Pendergrass on growth, the issue that made her a politician.

Meeder has said that Pendergrass is trying to "repackage" herself as a slow-growth candidate. She denies that she has changed her position, saying that she made her name as a slow-growth activist and continues to be wary of residential areas growing faster than the schools and roads to serve them.

The watercolor painter and mother of two says the only difference is that now, she keeps watch on those issues as an elected official, a turn in life she says she never predicted.

"It was a shift from my plan of working on my art, but it certainly was a very fulfilling 12 years, and I look forward to another four years of serving my community."

Pub Date: 6/05/98

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