Candidates in 11th District make schools No. 1 issue

Nearly all of the 6 support building to ease crowding

October 23, 2002|By Jonathan D. Rockoff | Jonathan D. Rockoff,SUN STAFF

Ask the candidates running for the House of Delegates from the 11th District to name a key issue, and they'll probably give the same response: crowded schools.

The western Baltimore County district covers several communities struggling with crowded schools, such as New Town Elementary in Owings Mills, where new enrollments have been halted.

Nearly all of the six candidates vying for three delegate seats support building more schools and using increased state funding for education to reduce class sizes.

Three Democrats are running in the predominantly Democratic district of 115,475 residents. Dels. Dan K. Morhaim, 53, an emergency room doctor from Owings Mills, and Robert A. Zirkin, 31, a lawyer from Owings Mills, are incumbents. Jon S. Cardin, 32, a lawyer who lives in Lutherville, is a new candidate.

The third seat was vacated by Michael J. Finifter, who was appointed a Circuit Court judge in April.

Each of the Democrats has sizable campaign coffers and long lists of endorsements - even newcomer Cardin, nephew of U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin.

The three Republicans tend to emphasize their ties to Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the Republican candidate for governor, and point to crime as the second key issue facing the district.

The Republicans are: J. Michael Collins Sr., 53, a kitchen designer from Reisterstown; Grant I. Harding, 65, a semi-retired auctioneer from Owings Mills; and Betty Wagner, 58, a bookkeeper and accountant for a Baltimore law firm who lives in Reisterstown.

The candidates discuss issues other than crowded schools. Collins would support combining state agencies and slashing state jobs through attrition to eliminate government waste.

Cardin vowed to work for a prescription drug plan for the elderly and affordable health care plans for small businesses.

Morhaim said he would continue his work on health care issues in Annapolis by promoting injury prevention and expanding treatment of drug, alcohol and tobacco addictions. Seeking his third term, Morhaim emphasizes a record of legislative achievement on health care issues by building consensus.

Harding also supports enhancing drug treatment efforts, as well as stiffening prosecution of crime.

Zirkin pledged to focus on revamping the state's juvenile justice system because "what you're having is kids are going into juvenile justice and coming out worse than when they went in." He also wants to look at the trucking of hazardous chemicals because trucks are targets for terrorists.

Wagner supports reforming the juvenile justice system and rewarding teachers for student achievement.

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