Republicans seek to ease Democrats' grip on 10th

Western Baltimore County district has 4 incumbents

October 23, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Two Republicans are trying to loosen the Democratic stranglehold on power in western Baltimore County's 10th Legislative District -- an area that hasn't been represented by a Republican in the State House since 1962.

Robbie Page, a retired moving company comptroller, is challenging Sen. Delores G. Kelley for the seat she's held for two terms. And Steven D'Arezzo, a 31-year-old draftsman, is trying to unseat one of three state delegates running for re-election in the district.

Dels. Emmett C. Burns Jr., Adrienne A.W. Jones, and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam currently represent the area.

However, the Democrats are not united on one ticket. Burns was not endorsed for the slate by Kelley, who pointed to philosophical differences. The Republican challengers aren't looking to capitalize on any rift between the Democrats, though. Page, the Republican challenging Kelley, said, "I'm depending on her supporters. I need a third of them to win."

Page, 68, who has lived in Randallstown for 35 years, became active in local politics during a failed effort last year to extend a public bus line closer to the shopping centers on Liberty Road. Page said improving public transportation in the area and reducing the cost of prescriptions for seniors will be among her top priorities if elected.

Kelley, 66, was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1991 representing the Liberty Road corridor in 1991. Before that, she served eight years on the Mayor's Mental Health Advisory Council, beginning in 1980. She has served on dozens of committees and task forces on issues from the state budget to infant mortality.

A professor of communications at Coppin State College, Kelley lives in Randallstown and said that her top priorities for the next legislative session are addressing problems with group homes for children in the district and reducing resource disparities between area schools and schools elsewhere in the county.

Burns, a Baptist minister and former NAACP official, said he hasn't been hurt by having to run without Kelley's endorsement. "It's working to my advantage," he said, explaining that he has been able to draw more support from anti-abortion constituents and the anti-gay rights lobby.

Burns, 62, of Woodlawn, has served two terms in the State House, where he has been a member of the Judiciary Committee and the Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse. He says he plans to introduce legislation to better monitor speeding drivers on state highways such as Liberty Road.

Nathan-Pulliam, 63, moved to Milford Mill this year after legislative district lines were redrawn; the 10th District no longer includes the slice of West Baltimore where she had lived. She serves on the House Environmental Matters Committee and the Joint Committee on Health Care Delivery and Financing.

"Health care is closest to my heart," said Nathan-Pulliam, a registered nurse. "It has to be addressed before anything else. For example, children can't benefit from improved schools unless they're healthy physically and mentally."

Jones, 47, the director of Baltimore County's Office of Fair Practices and Community Affairs, has served in the House of Delegates since 1997 when she was appointed to fill a vacancy created by the death of Del. Joan Neverdon Parker. Jones, who lives in Woodstock, was elected in 1998.

She heads the Joint Committee on Fair Practices and is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

D'Arezzo, who is seeking to unseat one of the district's Democrats, said he is confident in his abilities as a legislator, although he has never worked on a campaign other than his own and has raised only $1,200. He lives in Randallstown.

D'Arezzo lists improved health care for the elderly, education and transportation as his top priorities. "I'd provide visible proof that stuff's getting done for the district," he said.

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