Hoffman's challengers say they favor slots at Pimlico

Gladden, Boston seek state Senate seat in racetrack's district

August 07, 2002|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Two state Senate candidates in the district that includes Pimlico Race Course said yesterday they support allowing slot machines at the track, while a third candidate, Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, said she is against the idea.

In an interview on WYPR radio's Marc Steiner Show, Del. Lisa A. Gladden and former Del. Frank D. Boston Jr., Senate candidates in Northwest Baltimore's 41st District, said they believe slots will play an important role in resolving Maryland's budget shortfall and providing funding for schools in the city and across the state.

With Canadian company Magna Entertainment Corp.'s plan to demolish and rebuild the racecourse, Gladden and Boston said the time seems right to legalize slots.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in Wednesday's editions of The Sun incorrectly described state Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman's position on slot machines at Pimlico Race Course. Hoffman said that she is not personally opposed to slots but that before voting for them would want to make sure the surrounding community would not be negatively affected. The Sun regrets the error.

"I think this is the time that the state could get on board," said Boston, adding that he does not like gambling but sees it as a viable source of state revenue.

Gladden said she would like revenue from slots to be designated for education.

Hoffman said she plans to talk with district residents, but opposes the use of gambling to address the state's financial needs. "Slots will not solve the state's budgetary problems."

Three Democrats

The hourlong discussion highlighted one of the major differences among the three Democratic candidates. The race, which has no Republican challengers, has emerged as one of the hottest contests in this fall's election.

Black political leaders say they want a black candidate to win in the district, which is more than 70 percent African-American.

Hoffman, who is white, is a 20-year senator and the chairwoman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Gladden, a one-term delegate and an African-American, has the support of most of the city's black political leaders.

Boston, who is black, is viewed by some observers as a potential "spoiler" who could take votes away from Gladden and help Hoffman win the race.

A deciding factor for voters could be their stance on issues such as gambling.

Sales, gas taxes

While Gladden and Boston support legalizing slots, Hoffman said she would rather increase the gasoline tax and possibly extend the sales tax to the service industry to solve budget problems. She said the state's tax structure is in some ways "out of whack."

Gladden said expanding the sales tax would likely hurt low-wage earners who could see their salaries cut or lose their jobs as employers try to hold down prices. Boston said he believes such a tax increase would hurt seniors on fixed incomes.

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