Del. Klausmeier highlights experience in bid for state Senate seat in 8th District

Republican Cluster seeks his first elected office

October 21, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

As she campaigns for the 8th District state Senate seat, Del. Katherine A. Klausmeier, a Democrat, is mindful that although her opponent has not run for office before, she is leading a ticket that includes three political newcomers.

So, while sidestepping any criticism of John Cluster Jr., a Republican, Klausmeier is quick to point to her own experience, which includes leading state task forces on the quality of care in nursing facilities and ensuring the health of the state's seafood industry.

"I really think I've been able to help a lot of people," she said. "That's something I'm proud of - my open door to constituents."

As a senator, Klausmeier said, "I think I could get even more accomplished."

Cluster, 48, a Parkville resident, hadn't run for office before he decided to challenge Klausmeier, a two-term state delegate. Cluster owns a custom embroidery shop in Parkville and serves as president of the Parkville-Carney Business and Professional Association.

"I've done everything else you can do to help in a community," said Cluster, who has volunteered with school activities, police patrols, and parks and recreation programs. "I think this is the next step."

Cluster and Klausmeier began thinking about running for the 8th District Senate seat - representing Perry Hall, Parkville, Carney and Rosedale - when Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell retired in June to head the Injured Workers Insurance Fund. John R. Schneider, one of Bromwell's longtime friends and aides, filled the vacancy for several months, but died in August. Joseph T. Ferraracci, a longtime Democratic Central Committee member, was appointed by the governor to fill the seat through the end of the year.

Klausmeier's ticket - the "New Eighth District Democratic Team" - has named education, a prescription drug plan for seniors, public safety and community stabilization as its top priorities. However, Klausmeier says she also plans to help county officials address aggressive driving in residential areas of the district.

Klausmeier, 52, has worked for St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson for nearly 30 years, most recently as a human resources specialist. Klausmeier, formerly Katherine Nossel, grew up in Perry Hall, where she and her husband raised their two daughters.

A retired Baltimore County police officer, Cluster grew up in Parkville, where he and his wife raised two children.

Talking with voters, Cluster says it's clear people are most concerned about the state budget deficit. "They know the problem filters down and will affect programs in their communities and their taxes," he said. "It's the No. 1 priority."

He says fighting the rising violent crime rate in the county and improving education - by such strategies as reducing class size - are among the most important efforts to be funded.

"It's an uphill battle," Cluster said of his challenge to Klausmeier. "She has a name in the community. But I've been very pleased with the reception I've received from voters. Many of the community groups only see her once or twice a year. For me, being a state senator would be my only job."

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