District 2 hopefuls brace for hard fight

Middlebrooks disputes Klosterman's accusations that race will be negative

Both served as council chairman

Anne Arundel

October 18, 2002|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County Council Vice Chairman Daniel E. Klosterman Jr., a Democrat from Millersville, says he is prepared for the below-the-belt punches that he warns his GOP opponent, former state Sen. C. Edward Middlebrooks, will throw his way.

Klosterman's campaign Web site makes reference to the battle between himself and the dethroned state legislator, using a boxing-match photo and punchy language.

"He will run a negative campaign," said Klosterman, 57, a certified public accountant and former council chairman. "That's all he does."

Middlebrooks, 47, a lawyer from Severn, counters that his campaign is not about mudslinging but about a change in leadership to improve the quality of life for residents of District 2, which includes Olde Mill and Glen Burnie.

Middlebrooks said that Klosterman has failed to control development in the district, and that residents have suffered near-constant gridlock. Classrooms are overcrowded as well, he said.

"It's out of control, especially when it comes to our schools," said Middlebrooks, who is married and has six children. "Education should be a priority. That's what the council is there for."

Middlebrooks, who graduated from Glen Burnie High School and received his law degree from the University of Baltimore, was nominated for a judgeship nearly two years ago. He said recently that he doubts he will win appointment to the bench before his nomination expires.

"There should be nothing to stand in the way of my serving on the County Council," he said.

Middlebrooks has held several political positions. He served on the local Democratic Central Committee from 1982 to 1990 and on the council as a Democrat from 1990 to 1994, serving as chairman his last year.

He joined the Republican Party in 1994, the same year that then-Sen. Michael J. Wagner, a Democrat from Ferndale, backed another candidate to replace Middlebrooks on the council. Enraged, Middlebrooks challenged Wagner and won. He lost his Senate seat in 1998 to Democratic state Sen. James E. DeGrange Sr.

Middlebrooks calls himself an outsider. He has promised to eliminate back-room politics and to hold elected officials accountable for unethical actions. He said Klosterman's brushes with the Ethics Commission should concern voters.

Two years ago, the panel ruled that Klosterman violated county ethics laws by trying to drum up county business for one of his 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 Ethics Commission from seven members to nine, which would have allowed 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 is campaigning for a second term with the hope of seeing an aquatics center built in Millersville and an empty Glen Burnie movie theater turned into a community center. He said he recently worked with the Outback Steakhouse chain to open a restaurant at the Harundale Mall.

Klosterman says he doesn't play partisan politics.

"You have to look at what's good for the county," he said. Klosterman said he has worked to stop housing build-up in areas where school enrollment exceeds state standards. Recently, he co-sponsored legislation to encourage renovation of boarded up commercial sites.

Middlebrooks has criticized Klosterman for accepting contributions from developers, including $200 from Sturbridge Associates of Annapolis, which built the Village at Waugh Chapel in Gambrills.

From all sources, Klosterman had collected about $50,500 and had about $37,700 cash on hand as of Aug. 25, the last campaign finance filing date.

Middlebrooks had collected about $7,300 and reported a cash balance of $700.

Glen Burnie resident and business owner George C. Law also is running in District 2. Law, 59, a Green Party candidate, owns Law Brothers Hardware in Ferndale. His campaign focuses on building strong communities and bringing economic stability to the county.

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