Environmental groups endorse Schrader

Opponent Gray dismisses poor grade from activists

August 22, 2002|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Two environmental groups have endorsed Republican state Sen. Sandra B. Schrader, while one gave C. Vernon Gray - her Democratic rival - a failing "F" grade for his County Council and zoning board votes.

"I think it's wonderful," Schrader said about the endorsements, noting her work on the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee this year. The District 13 Senate election could decide which party controls the Howard County delegation in Annapolis next term.

Meanwhile, a group called African Americans in Howard County also issued endorsements - some of which appeared to further confuse the primary race among five Democrats seeking the three delegate seats in District 13.

The group is led by Sherman Howell and the Rev. Robert A. Turner, who on Aug. 6, under the banner of a different group called Howard County Black Clergy, urged District 13 voters to vote only for Democrat Pearl Atkinson Stewart to concentrate support for her.

Now, with a somewhat different membership, African Americans in Howard County is recommending Stewart and has issued "a qualified endorsement" of Democratic incumbent Frank S. Turner and is also encouraging consideration for Neil F. Quinter, another Democrat. Residents may vote for three candidates in each district.

The group snubbed one incumbent - Shane Pendergrass, a Democrat who is running on a team with Turner. Both environmental groups that chose Schrader, however, also endorsed Turner, Pendergrass and Quinter.

"My preference is, first of all, Pearl," Howell said. "If people feel they have to vote for two other people, we prefer Frank [Turner] and Neil [Quinter]."

The group, he said, wants to "get us away from the status quo where we get people elected without asking questions."

"If you're not confused by now ... who's on first?" Pendergrass said. Howell "seems to be like the Wizard of Oz" behind a curtain, she said.

The African-American group also endorsed candidates in the District 13 Republican primary, including Bob Adams, who said "I'm just very touched by this." District 9A Del. Gail H. Bates, a Republican, was also endorsed.

In county Republican primary races, the group chose Steven H. Adler for county executive, Kirk Halpin for County Council in District 3, and Allan H. Kittleman in District 5. For school board, the group endorsed Barry Tevelow.

The Schrader endorsements from the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and the Howard County chapter of the Sierra Club are for the Sept. 10 primary election, but club members said they would support Schrader for the general election, too.

"I think it's highly likely," said Dennis Luck, chairman of the Sierra Club group.

Gray, who is County Council chairman, was given a failing rating by the local Sierra Club group based on his votes on 10 bills - including his zoning board vote to approve the huge Maple Lawn Farms mixed-use development.

Kittleman, a western county councilman, scored highest on the group's chart, getting an "A+" for his votes and other actions. "There really are Republicans who are pro-environment," Kittleman said about himself and Schrader.

Democratic Councilman Guy J. Guzzone, a former Sierra Club state director and District 3 incumbent, was also endorsed by the group, which gave him a grade of "B."

Gray voted against Sierra Club preferences on eight of the 10 measures, including a bill to change the minimum lot size for forest conservation programs, weakening them in the club's view, and another that required developers to subtract wetlands before calculating the number of buildable lots.

"I have an excellent environmental record," Gray said. He pointed out his support of anti-smoking bills, reservoir protection efforts and attempts to preserve the Blandair farm in Columbia as a park.

"They've never endorsed me in five elections. I never had an expectation that they would endorse me," he said.

Sue Brown, executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, said Schrader scored 100 percent on her group's scorecard in seven Senate floor votes and two committee votes.

"She's one of the few Republicans interested in voting on the environment," she said. "We really think Sandy Schrader is a good fit for her district."

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