Teacher takes on governor, Sauerbrey Write-in candidate from Prince George's is angry about pension

November 02, 1998|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

The candidates for governor of Maryland are Democrat Parris N. Glendening and Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey -- and Democrat Jacqueline Crabtree.

Yes, Jacqueline Crabtree. She's a 62-year-old teacher from Prince George's County who is angry about the state's pension formula for public school employees.

And she's the only person certified as a write-in candidate for the state's highest office.

Says Crabtree: "I've never been so scared in my life."

She wanted to retire last spring after 30 years in the public schools. But she found she could not afford to, and she blames the state's "pitifully inadequate" retirement benefits for teachers and other school workers.

Last summer, she published newsletters to raise the issue with other teachers and union leaders. A few weeks ago, Crabtree drove to state election headquarters in Annapolis to pick up a list of candidates' addresses. She was going to mail them information on the pension issue -- until she saw a stack of brochures on how to become a write-in candidate.

"I looked down and I wondered if I could do that," says Crabtree, whose last run for any kind of office ended with her election as president of her college's social club.

Needing a running mate, she returned to Lewisdale Elementary School, where she teaches English for speakers of other languages. She asked Frankie Wayne Jackson, a 48-year-old computer site coordinator at the school, to run on the ticket.

"That's when the argument started about who has to be governor," she says. "I lost the coin toss. All facetiousness aside, I'm only doing this because I've been angry since June."

State election officials said write-in candidates must be certified with the office or their votes are not counted.

When the registration deadline passed this week, only Crabtree had filed as a write-in candidate for governor.

Republican Robert W. Kearns and Democrat Lih Young, who lost in primary races for state comptroller, filed as write-in candidates for the post in the general election.

Crabtree knows that her mailings to fellow teachers and union members will get her only so many votes.

But she wonders whether she might draw enough support to sway the outcome of the tight race between Sauerbrey and Glendening -- or at least draw attention to her cause.

"I can't think of a better way to make the point," she says. "Since this is turning out to be such a close election, I might be making the point very well."

Pub Date: 11/02/98

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