In county race, Riley, Smith unveil plans for seniors

Transportation, housing among issues addressed

October 22, 2002|By Jonathan D. Rockoff | Jonathan D. Rockoff,SUN STAFF

In their latest duel over policy, the two candidates for Baltimore County executive have exchanged competing plans for the elderly.

Democrat James T. Smith Jr., who has been issuing position papers for the past several weeks, offered his senior citizens "blueprint" yesterday.

Republican Douglas B. Riley, who recently began issuing policy statements, released his seniors' plan late Friday.

The candidates are seeking to address the concerns of the county's 110,335 seniors, who constitute one-seventh of the county population but are prized because of their high voting turnout.

Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Democrat from the 3rd Congressional District, endorsed Smith yesterday as someone who has "talked to seniors, understands their needs and concerns."

On housing, the candidates served up different proposals.

Smith suggested changing zoning regulations to allow the elderly to live in apartments at their children's houses, and he proposed developing a program for seniors to learn about low-cost repairs that could help them remain in their homes.

Riley recommended providing property tax relief so the elderly could afford to keep their homes.

On health care issues, Riley said the county should investigate whether it could lower elderly residents' prescription drug costs through bulk purchasing. Smith proposed "redoubling" county efforts to help seniors apply for Medicare, Medicaid and insurance.

The candidates also shared some positions.

Both recommended adding public transportation for the elderly, and they emphasized the importance of ensuring seniors' safety and security.

Riley suggested using seniors as volunteers in county government, and Smith proposed expanding the elderly's participation on county boards, commissions and task forces.

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