Marsh, Roop vie in 5th District County Council race offers candidates who focus on education

Campaign 1998

October 29, 1998|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

The two candidates hoping to pick up where County Council President Diane R. Evans will leave off in December have some big shoes to fill.

Evans, barred by a term limit from another run for the council, won wide respect during her eight-year tenure for tackling tough budget issues and pension reform and was admired by many constituents and fellow council members.

The candidates seeking to replace her as the District 5 representative are Democrat Mary P. Marsh and Republican Cliff R. Roop. Voters might have a hard time distinguishing between them ideologically: Both say education funding is their No. 1 priority and call for better communication with the school board.

Both say they'll keep an eye on the general development plan, hoping to balance business and community interests in the Severna Park, Broadneck and Arnold area.

Both want to curb traffic.

Both have spent most of their adult lives in the area, have two children, years of local community service and the ardent backing of their party.

About Marsh, Kathleen A. Shatt, chairwoman of the county Democratic State Central Committee, said: "That area is used to fantastic people representing them with Diane and before that [former Councilwoman Carole] Baker. I know Mary will follow in that tradition."

About Roop, Helen R. Fister, chairwoman of the county Republican Central Committee said he "has experience as far as politics go, and has a knowledge of where the party stands and would serve the citizens of Severna Park well."

During a remarkably civil and unboisterous campaign, a few differences between the candidates have emerged.

"We both want to make sure there are better textbooks [and] photocopies, talk to teachers and work with their issues," said Roop. " Obviously community-based schooling is one of my biggest issues."

Marsh said Roop's community service has been more political than hers, and his supporters are more business oriented.

"The difference between Cliff and I is that I've been there," Marsh said. "I've gone before the planning and code enforcement [boards] about subdivision plans. I've worked on the general development plan. I've been to all the recent candidate forums, when I was the only 5th District candidate there."

The two disagree on extending the light rail to Annapolis or Washington. Roop said he would want the tracks to run down Interstate 97; Marsh says she'd like to see them on Ritchie Highway.

"Can you imagine the traffic hassle of putting that on Ritchie Highway?" Roop said. "With the track, the 8-foot-tall anchor fence with barbed wire on top is not something we want to do in Severna Park -- or anywhere, for that matter."

But, said Marsh, "Other areas of the country have done light rail extensions in a manner that has a different look and [is] more aesthetically pleasing and is accessible."

Roop, 44, of Severna Park has owned the Shell gas station on Route 32 near the National Security Agency for 12 years. He was president of the Manhattan Beach Association and a member of the county Republican Central Committee, and chairs the county Amusement and Licensing Commission.

He got involved in politics when he became campaign manager for Republican Robert P. Duckworth's unsuccessful run for Congress in 1992. He is treasurer of the Severna Park High School PTSO and a coach.

Marsh, 39, of Arnold is a legislative researcher for an environmental group and former president of the Whispering Woods Community Association and Broadneck Federation of Community Associations. She served on the General Development Plan Steering Committee and has been active with the county Sierra Club chapter.

A proposal to build a trash transfer station near a local park and school in 1990 launched her into public service. She succeeded in limiting the number of stations and instituting curbside recycling earlier than planned.

While both candidates are eager to take over Evans' seat, Roop is getting tired of the comparisons.

"I am not Diane Evans," he said. "She is an old friend, but I have my own way of doing things. I'm a different person."

Fister, the GOP central committee chairwoman, says a replacement of her caliber may not be possible. "No candidate," she said with a sigh, "will be another Diane Evans."

Pub Date: 10/29/98

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