Newcomers challenging Balto. County councilmen 1st, 2nd District races dominated by same issues

October 26, 1998|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,SUN STAFF

Two Baltimore County Council incumbents face a pair of political newcomers in next week's election in the 1st and 2nd districts, which ring the southwest corner of the county.

Republicans John "Jack" Manley, a retired professor and administrator at Catonsville Community College, and Lisa Cohen, a Randallstown activist and mother of four, are challenging incumbents Stephen G. Sam Moxley of the 1st District and Kevin Kamenetz of the 2nd.

Despite the diversity of communities such as Arbutus, Catonsville, Randallstown and Pikesville, the same issues of education, crime, housing and development have dominated the two races.

Cohen, a political novice who operates on a shoestring budget of $2,000 from the kitchen table of her Randallstown townhouse, has attacked the shortcomings of the 2nd District's school system in her efforts to unseat Kamenetz.

Cohen grew up in the city's Hamilton community and graduated in 1980 from Roland Park Country School. She is PTA president at Deer Park Elementary School, where she has children in first grade and kindergarten. But she also home schools a fourth-grader, she said.

"My candidacy all came through the schools -- I was fighting and fighting and felt very neglected," said Cohen, 35. "We need more textbooks and I want to lobby the state to eliminate [the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program]. And in our area, we have a high concentration of foster children and we need extra services."

Kamenetz has raised nearly $100,000 in his attempt to win a second four-year term. The 40-year-old Towson divorce lawyer says he hopes to continue the four priority areas he has been working on -- education, crime reduction, revitalizing older neighborhoods and providing efficient constituent service.

Kamenetz, a Gilman School graduate and son of an Overlea pharmacist, recently set out to tackle housing issues on Liberty Road, where many of the city's poor residents have migrated to low-income apartment complexes.

"I've tried to advocate in a balanced manner the neighborhoods of Pikesville, Liberty Road and Woodlawn," Kamenetz said. "As far as education, what we don't do well enough is educate the public as to the large dollars being spent -- $42 million for the 26 schools in the second district for renovation and repairs."

In the 1st District, Manley, 71, hopes to revive the political mission of his wife, Berchie Lee, who was ousted from her council seat by Moxley four years ago.

Manley, who has raised slightly more than $11,000, charges that Moxley is too close to County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger. Manley promises to become an independent voice on the council working toward educational reform, an elected school board, better school facilities and stronger public safety with higher salaries for police officers.

In a recent interview, he also harshly criticized the size of the raise the council voted to give itself last year, a 24.6 percent raise to $38,500 per year -- the first raise since December 1990. He also attacked the pension plans of elected officials, particularly the $89,250-a-year pension Ruppersberger would get if he wins re-election and retires in 2002 with 17 years of county service.

In Catonsville, Moxley has raised nearly $60,000 and spent $35,000 to retain his seat. Though Manley's candidacy has brought back memories of his bitter race against Berchie Manley in 1994, Moxley refuses to criticize his opponent. Known for his annual portrayal of Santa Claus, Moxley, 39, is an attorney who has lived in Catonsville since he was 5 years old. He was a bachelor during the last election, and is now married with three stepchildren.

"I want to finish some of the projects we're working on," he said. "I still believe the main issues are public safety, education and protecting our older neighborhoods."

Pub Date: 10/26/98

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