District 33 hopefuls stake out positions House candidates likely to need bipartisan support to win seat

Campaign 1998

October 20, 1998|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Marsha Perry's decision to leave the House of Delegates set off a scramble in western Anne Arundel of candidates hoping to snatch up her seat -- a spot the Democrats won twice in a district with a slight Republican majority because of Perry's unyielding stance on the environment.

But only one of her would-be replacements in District 33 sees the environment as the issue to catapult her to a place in the delegation.

Democrat Gayle Powell, a political newcomer, says she wants to replace Perry as the voice of the environment from her district. The other Democrats are Sheila Schneider, executive director of the Greater Crofton Chamber of Commerce, and Marcia Richard, a language arts teacher at George Fox Middle School. All three are newcomers from Crofton.

Three seats are being contested in the district.

Republican incumbents Janet Greenip and Robert C. Baldwin are joined by David Boschert, a Crownsville Democrat turned Republican and 10-year veteran of the County Council.

While the Democrats talk about environmental issues, money for schools and senior citizen issues, the Republicans are pushing strict enforcement of sentencing laws and their distaste for state programs.

The district, which covers most of the center of the county from Fort Meade to the Severn River and includes Davidsonville and Lothian Woods, is about 45 percent Republican and 41 percent Democrat. Because of the close split, each candidate is likely to need support from both parties to win.

Powell, the public outreach coordinator for the U.S. Department of Energy's programs to promote natural gas or electric-powered vehicles, says environmental issues are her "passion."

And she hopes her support for the environment and farm preservation programs that, in turn, slow growth in rural areas is a strong enough issue to gain Republican votes. She said she also supports streamlining licensing procedures to make it easier to start small businesses and wants to get more money for school construction.

Senior voluntarism is a strong theme in Richard's campaign. She said she wants to take advantage of younger retirees with a wealth of experience to help train students in life skills. In return, she proposes reduced taxes and improved services for seniors.

But her top priority is to get money to renovate aging schools, build new ones, add computers and buy textbooks.

"We want to put technology in the hands of all our students," she said. "Businesses are looking for technology, and the question is, are our kids prepared for technology? When we have 15 kids to one computer, I don't think so."

Sheila Schneider is an advocate of crime prevention and programs to battle domestic violence.

The county can deal with problems in education and rapid suburban growth by sticking to Gov. Parris N. Glendening's Smart Growth initiative, which focuses home construction in areas that have schools, roads, and sewer and water lines, Schneider says. She also wants to help local businesses by resolving inconsistencies in state and local laws, and getting money for better roads that will help improve the business climate in Maryland.

Boschert ran unsuccessfully for the House of Delegates four years ago as a conservative Democrat, he says. Even though he has switched parties, he says his ideals have not changed.

"People have got to understand accountability, and responsibility for one's actions is going to be the rule of the day," Boschert said. He proposes strict enforcement of criminal sentencing by eliminating plea bargains and parole, and supports a tax credit for volunteers.

Greenip and Baldwin, criticized for refusing to cooperate with the House Democratic majority in their last term, are campaigning on their records of service and distaste for current state programs.

Greenip, a former teacher and Crofton civic association director, opposes legalized gambling and supported a state income tax cut. She co-sponsored an unsuccessful bill to have phonics taught in elementary schools because she believes the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program fails to help students learn basics skills.

Educators teach students how to pass the test rather than the skills they need, she said.

"Third-grade teachers teach bar graphs," she said. "I'm not crazy about third-grade students learning bar graphs as opposed to adding and subtracting. I think the schools should be evaluated, but let's base it on the things children need to know to get along in this world."

Baldwin, secretary and treasurer of his family's contracting company, said he has dedicated his time to eradicating what he calls "bad laws," such as those requiring contractors on state projects to pay workers prevailing wages. He said such laws cost the state money because contractors have to charge the state more for the varied pay scales. "Good laws" include one that would raise the speed limit on U.S. 50 between the Capital Beltway and Annapolis, he said.

Baldwin also opposes the MSPAP, citing many of the same reasons as Greenip, and supports reducing school class sizes.

Pub Date: 10/20/98

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