Candidates aim to get in touch with voters

Two Democrats vying to take on Middlebrooks in council's 2nd District

August 27, 2002|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County Councilman Daniel E. Klosterman Jr., a certified public accountant from Millersville who represents the 2nd District, entered the race for re-election with $38,000 in the bank and name recognition as past council chairman - a good start by any campaign manager's standard.

By contrast, fellow Democrat and challenger in the Sept. 10 primary Paul T. Falkler is financing his own campaign and knocking on a lot of doors. So far, the Severn resident has spent about $3,000.

Both candidates have said the other is out of touch with North County residents.

"When I go knocking on doors, no one knows who their council member is," said Falkler, 40, a software engineer and business owner.

He said he would help educate constituents by creating a Web site and updating it daily.

Klosterman, 57, has said Falkler doesn't know what's best for the district, a densely packed area that includes Olde Mill and Severn. He is campaigning for a second term with the hope of seeing an aquatics center built in Millersville and an empty movie theater in Glen Burnie repaired and turned into a community center.

"Another term would give me the opportunity to finish a lot of projects I started during the first four years," he said. "I'd like to see these projects bear fruit."

The winner of the primary election will face Republican C. Edward Middlebrooks, 47, who served on the council as a Democrat from 1990 to 1994 and then served in the state Senate as a Republican from 1994 to 1998. Middlebrooks, a Severn resident, lost his seat four years ago to James E. DeGrange Sr., a Democrat.

Klosterman enters the election season full of confidence despite several run-ins with the county Ethics Commission.

Two years ago, the panel ruled that Klosterman violated county ethics laws by trying to drum up county business for one of his accounting clients. More recently, the panel barred Klosterman and another council member from voting on an issue because of family conflicts.

Stung by the most recent decision, Klosterman tried to expand the commission from seven members to nine, allowing two appointments for the county executive and one each for the seven council members.

A government watchdog group criticized Klosterman for introducing the resolution, saying it could allow inappropriate influence by council members. In the end, Klosterman withdrew the resolution.

Klosterman say she is sure that his record of public service - including committing $2.8 million to install air conditioners at elementary schools - will help him win re-election.

"The voters are content with what is going on," Klosterman said recently. "If you look at where we were in 1998 and look at the improvements, I think residents are happy about that."

Together, Klosterman and his council colleagues - with support from County Executive Janet S. Owens, another Millersville Democrat - have been able to reduce a serious backlog in school renovation work and road repairs.

"We've kept the promise," said Klosterman, who works with his son and daughter at Klosterman & Associates in Severna Park.

Falkler has criticized Klosterman and the council for failing to implement a comprehensive development plan.

He said that the county's Small Area Planning Process, by which residents from 16 areas have worked with the county to set development standards and zoning, is myopic.

"We need one plan, not 16," he said.

Falkler said council members should be graded for their performance at the end of each term, and if they fail to enact legislation or lead efforts to help residents, they should resign. He said council members should create a list of the top 10 problems facing the county and work to solve them.

Falkler, who is married and has two small children, also said if he doesn't win the primary race, he will run again in 2006.

"If I don't win, at least I will have learned a lot," Falkler said.

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