Candidates debate issues of 1st District

County budget a concern for both Beidle and Gouge

October 17, 2002|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County Council member Pamela G. Beidle, a Democrat from Linthicum, is pitching her ability to "do good things" on a tight budget as a reason for 1st District residents to support her re-election bid against GOP challenger and fellow Linthicum resident Bob Gouge.

But Gouge, who has lived in the district for about two years, says he is unsatisfied with how Beidle has represented the area, which includes Ferndale and Hanover as well as the Baltimore-Washington International Airport corridor.

"Pam Beidle's representation at the local level has not been pro-active, and it's not been responsive," said Gouge, 34, chief operating officer for American Limousines Inc. of Baltimore. "When you're an elected representative, everyone's back yard is your back yard. I think we could do better."

Beidle - whose campaign literature portrays her as an "effective, responsive and committed" elected official - says Gouge is off-base.

During her four years in office, Beidle says, she has secured money to build a 460-seat addition at North County High School in Glen Burnie and worked to ban after-hours clubs and illegal massage parlors.

"I really like helping people to problem-solve," said Beidle, 51, who owns an insurance agency in Glen Burnie. "I really think good things have happened in the last four years."

Beidle says she is looking forward to four more years on the council and the challenges that lie ahead, including finding money to increase police salaries and build fire stations. A recent survey found that the county needs five more fire stations in the next three years to meet the demands of a fast-growing population.

"We've not grown the Fire Department for 15 years," said Beidle, who added that she is researching jurisdictions in which residents pay a fire tax to cover the high costs of emergency medical and fire services. "There's great concern."

She said that pay for law enforcement professionals was a top priority when she was elected nearly four years ago - the council has raised police salaries by 15 percent over the past three years - and that it will surely be discussed when police unions and the county meet to renegotiate labor contracts starting next month.

"We are falling behind on our police salaries again in comparison to other jurisdictions," said Beidle, who is married and has three children.

She is a Glen Burnie native who graduated from Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn and Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold.

She holds a bachelor's degree in business administration management from Towson University.

Gouge, who received his high school diploma in Delaware and moved to Maryland four years ago, has criticized Beidle's idea for a fire tax.

"We don't need another tax," he said. "We are already highly taxed."

Gouge said that if schools Superintendent Eric J. Smith could cut $11.4 million from two schools' construction blueprints, as he did in August, council members may be able to squeeze more money from the budget to pay for fire stations.

"The council needs to spend every dollar as if it were their own'" said Gouge, who is married and has two stepchildren. "If you spend taxpayer money like that, you scrutinize every dollar."

Gouge, who is funding his own campaign and says he doesn't want any endorsements, had raised about $2,300 as of Aug. 25, the last campaign finance filing date. His cash balance at the time was $285.

Beidle, who is endorsed by the teachers union, had raised about $71,000.

Her campaign reported a cash balance of $24,000.

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