In District 6 race, candidates focus on jobs, revitalization

6 longtime residents, including 2 incumbents, vie for 3 seats in House

October 15, 2002|By Linda Linley | Linda Linley,SUN STAFF

Two veteran lawmakers, the son of a departing legislator, a private school teacher, a restaurant owner and a retired accounting clerk agree that bringing jobs to southeastern Baltimore County and revitalizing Dundalk and Essex are priorities in the 6th Assembly District, but they differ on who can best carry out these plans.

While the Democrats think their experience is the key to bringing back jobs and restoring communities, the Republicans say they are more attuned to voters and can bring new ideas to Annapolis.

Voters will be deciding among the six candidates, all longtime residents of the area, for three House of Delegates seats in the general election Nov. 5. The 6th District includes Dundalk, Essex and a portion of Rosedale.

Del. John S. Arnick, 68, who has been in the legislature "some 20-odd years," and Del. Joseph J. "Sonny" Minnick, 69, who has been a delegate for 11 years, want to secure funding to help refurbish Essex and Dundalk.

The two Democratic incumbents, both of Dundalk, say the two communities have been neglected, and they hope to get funding for this long-term refurbishment project.

The incumbents emphasized that their experience and their leadership in the legislature would be an asset to Baltimore County, particularly in the next session. The county lost several influential lawmakers this year.

Running with the two incumbents is Democrat Michael H. Weir Jr., 54, who has never held elected office. He is the son of Michael H. Weir, who is retiring from the legislature after 28 years. The younger Weir, a captain in the Baltimore County fire marshal's office, said he has worked in public safety all of his life.

Weir agrees that revitalizing the east side is one key issue, but he sees public safety as another.

"There's a lot of crime coming into the county, especially near the city line," Weir said.

A lifelong resident of Essex, Weir said he has been active in the community and the political arena for the past 30 years.

Each of the three Republicans, Paul M. Blitz, Jane Brooks and Bruce Laing, has run for the House of Delegates, but none has won an election.

Blitz, 39, a lifelong Essex resident, ran for a 6th District House seat in 1998. He is a teacher at a private high school and an Army reservist.

He says the state should be more business-friendly to lure more companies to Maryland to replace manufacturing firms that have closed down. Blitz said the area needs companies that are environmentally sensitive, such as computer-chip firms. He thinks the southeastern end of the county has a lot to offer, because the infrastructure is in place for these companies.

"I'm the youngest candidate in this race, and I have a vision for the future," Blitz said. "There is so much potential in this area. It's time for a change, time to bring new leadership to this area."

Brooks, 51, of Dundalk, also ran for the House of Delegates in 1998. She is a former accounting clerk for the Baltimore Travel Plaza and a former assistant district representative for Congressman Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the GOP gubernatorial candidate.

In addition to wanting to bring more employment to her district, Brooks said she wants to bring back family values because "strong families build strong communities." She said that since she has been campaigning, she sees things in a different light and would vote her convictions if elected.

Laing, 48, who grew up in Edgemere, lives in the Rocky Point area and is the owner and manager of the Island View restaurant, which has been in his family since 1969.

Revitalizing the east side is a key issue, said Laing, who ran for a seat in the House of Delegates in 1990. He also said the east side is a perfect area for refurbishment, with housing and transportation in place.

But he knows that the state, and its residents, are going to feel the pinch because of a large anticipated budget deficit.

"I tell the voters that I'm their neighbor," Laing said. "I know their concerns, and I share their values."

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