Education funding, budget deficit top Harford concerns

District 34, 35 candidates also cite crime, growth

October 27, 2002|By Lane Harvey Brown | Lane Harvey Brown,SUN STAFF

Candidates running to represent Harford County in Legislative Districts 34 and 35 say the state's looming budget deficit and education funding rank high among issues facing the delegation.

Three Republican incumbents, Dels. Barry Glassman and Joanne S. Parrott in District 35A and Sen. J. Robert Hooper in District 35, won primary races and face no opponents in the general election.

Several lawyers, a commercial property manager, a businesswoman and a teacher are vying for the remaining seats in Districts 34 and 35.

Senate District 34: Democrat Arthur Henry Helton Jr. of Havre de Grace is facing Republican incumbent Nancy Jacobs of Abingdon for the Senate seat representing southern Harford and northern Cecil counties.

Helton, 63, is former owner of three Western Auto franchises and manages several commercial properties. He served in the state Senate and on the County Council. He said his government and business experience would be an asset in Annapolis, especially with the state facing a deficit.

He wants to help craft a prescription plan for seniors and sees funding the Thornton Commission education plan - which requires that spending on education increase by $1.3 billion over six years - as a formidable challenge for the Assembly. "My recommendation would be to fund the slots and target that money to the racing industry and education," he said.

He said his opponent's record of voting against the budget and other issues had hurt the county's ability to attract needed funds. "You have to be able to work within the process to effectively represent your constituents," he said.

Jacobs, 50, a former indoor tennis club owner and substitute teacher, is a full-time legislator. She has served a term in the House and in the Senate.

She said she has mellowed since first being elected, noting she has voted once for the budget. Jacobs said she is concerned that the state has spent on higher education at the expense of such programs as mental health and local school construction.

Of her reputation as a firebrand in Annapolis, she said when she sees the "little guy" getting hurt by government policy, "I'm going to stand up. I guess that's what the [Senate President] Mike Millers of the world don't like."

She said she "goes all out" on constituent services. She said her work tightening the law on sex offenders and making court services available to domestic abuse victims 24 hours a day are among her top accomplishments.

House of Delegates, District 34A: Three incumbents - Republican Charles R. Boutin of Aberdeen, and Democrats Mary-Dulany James of Havre de Grace and B. Daniel Riley of Edgewood are running for the two seats representing southern Harford County and a strip of northern Cecil County.

Boutin, 60, is a lawyer who has previously served as mayor of Aberdeen, a city councilman and school board president. He said the main issue ahead for Harford - and all counties - is the state budget. The delegation must work closely with the county executive and council, he said, to bring home adequate funding for roads and school construction.

He would like to see residents, developers and governmental agencies forge a plan for managing future growth in the county.

Environmental matters and a prescription plan for seniors rank high on his priority list. He would also like to help win funds for the Police Athletic League center being built in Edgewood.

Boutin pointed to his work on funding for Ripken Stadium and helping to pass a bill to fine nursing homes $10,000 a day for poor resident care as two achievements from his first term.

James, 42, is a lawyer and daughter of the late William S. James, former state treasurer and president of the state Senate. "Education is going to be key," she said, especially keeping commitments to Thornton Commission funding during the recession. She was recently appointed to the Commission on Maryland's Fiscal Structure, which is studying the state's revenue sources to identify adequate funds for education, transportation and health care.

On local growth, James said she is watching the "Route 40 corridor" closely. She favors "revitalizing it and not paving it over. ... I don't want to see the southern part of the county become the dumping ground for all development," she said.

Among her accomplishments in her first term, James said she is proud of passing legislation last year that allows the state to use federal Environmental Protection Agency dollars to purchase agricultural land as long as it is directly tied to preserving water quality. She said the bill could bring in $3 million to $6 million in new revenue for land preservation.

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