Assembly candidates offer similar views on the issues Public education called their top priority

October 07, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

The eight candidates vying to represent Carroll in the General Assembly offered nearly unanimous responses last night to questions from Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.

FTC They are for economic development and against gambling. All say public education is their top priority, and most think drug testing in public schools would be a good idea.

Drug testing "has proven effective in the work place and it would prove effective in the schools as well," said Democrat George Hayes Littrell Jr. of Frederick, a former school principal.

Littrell is challenging incumbent state Sen. Timothy R. Ferguson, a Republican of Taylorsville, whom he ran against four years ago.

Ferguson, who represents western Carroll and eastern Frederick County, said that although he didn't think drug testing in schools "would pass constitutional muster we should try it and see what happens."

Republican Del. Donald B. Elliott of New Windsor, who is defending his House seat in the western Carroll-eastern Frederick district, agreed with Ferguson.

What would be more helpful, he said, would be passage of a bill sponsored by Republican Del. Joseph M. Getty of Manchester that would inform school officials when a student is found to be using drugs off school grounds.

School board member Ann M. Ballard, a Mount Airy Democrat challenging Elliott, said she has supported taking drug-sniffing dogs into schools, but that students have found a way around that.

"They use drugs outside of school and make drug contacts within the school," she said. "We need more funds to educate students about the effects of drugs."

Republican Carmen Amedori of Westminster, who is hoping to win one of three House seats in eastern Carroll, was the only candidate to say she opposed drug testing.

"That's a very serious issue," Amedori said. "I'm afraid that if you put it in the hands of the school system and the government, it would tread on the Constitution."

Getty alluded to his off-the-premises drug bill as the kind of legislation needed to combat drugs in schools and said he would reintroduce the bill if returned to Annapolis.

Republican Del. Nancy R. Stocksdale of Westminster, a former teacher, said she believes that "judges have got to be tougher on kids involved in drugs." A drug education program needs to be offered for parents as well as children, she said.

Democratic Del. Ellen Willis Miller of Westminster expressed similar thoughts. "These kids are still minors," she said. "We need to let them know the seriousness with which we take this and that we as a society will not tolerate this."

Republican state Sen. Larry E. Haines of Westminster is unopposed in the general election and did not attend last night's forum.

Pub Date: 10/07/98

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