Candidates gear up for final push to Nov. 5

Hopefuls take opportunity to repeat ideas, complaints

October 27, 2002|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

It's almost show time for Howard County's candidate crop of 2002, and yesterday's League of Women Voters' forum was likely the last big act.

The final pre-election campaign finance reports were due Friday, and the candidates made their last public appeals before plunging into 10 more days of campaigning before the Nov. 5 election. The televised forum will be rebroadcast between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday and Nov. 3 on county cable Channel 71.

County Executive James N. Robey, a Democrat, listed his accomplishments and proclaimed that public service is his life. "This is what I know. This is what I do best," he told a sparse crowd of perhaps a dozen spectators in the theater of Howard Community College. Meanwhile, Republican Steven H. Adler leveled his familiar litany of alleged Robey administration failures.

"Stop growing Howard County government," Adler admonished, while blaming the current administration for the decline of Oakland Mills Village Center, for a burglarized family's recent five-hour wait after a series of 911 calls and for selling county-owned land to help finance a proposed new county government office complex in Ellicott City.

Several other candidates used the forum to distinguish themselves or to attempt a last blow at their rivals. The league also allowed two write-in candidates to participate - Libertarian David Margolis, running for County Council in western county District 5, and Raymond Bly, a Jessup Republican who lost in the primary election to Brian Harlin.

Kenneth S. Ulman, a Democrat running for County Council in west Columbia, said declining village centers east of U.S. 29 could be blamed partly on the Rouse Co. for "cannibalizing east Columbia" to build big-box retail centers nearby. He also criticized Joan Lancos, his Republican rival, for accepting campaign contributions from builders and developers after serving 10 years on the county Planning Board. Ulman charged that builders are helping Lancos so "she will protect them," if she wins, during a general rezoning next year.

Lancos fired back that developers who know her from her board experience know "that I have shot them down" when they deserved it, and Harlin, her GOP ally, said builders merely want someone on the council who is experienced in rezoning matters.

"Zoning is me," Lancos said later, describing her long experience in this complex area.

A few new ideas popped up.

Harlin, who is given little chance of beating Democrat David Rakes in east Columbia's District 2, said he would give back half his County Council salary if elected. "I'm not in this for the money," he said.

Adler and county Councilman Allan H. Kittleman, a western county Republican, proposed local property tax relief for senior homeowners on limited incomes, and Kittleman's Democratic rival, Stephen Musselman, proposed building a public swimming pool in the western county.

Lynne Bergling, a Democrat running against Republican county Councilman Christopher J. Merdon in Ellicott City, said she's against new homes being built in older neighborhoods because of the congestion that brings. "It's infill that's destroying our community," she said.

School issues

School board candidate Barry Tevelow said he can cut $12 million in administrative waste from the education budget, while his rival Courtney Watson said county schools need to do more with non-English-speaking students and build more schools to relieve crowding.

Among state legislators, state Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, a Democrat, criticized Democratic Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who he said "is not as interested in the welfare of people" as he is in programs like Smart Growth. "We've paid the price," Kasemeyer said, in shortchanged mental health programs and underfunded medical help for the poor.

Slot machine gambling at racetracks was a difficult issue for some legislators.

State Sen. Robert H. Kittleman, a Republican who has opposed gambling for 20 years in the General Assembly, said he would support slots at racetracks now because of the looming $1.7 billion budget shortfall.

That, said Republican Del. Robert L. Flanagan, illustrates one danger of state overspending, because it creates pressure for otherwise poor money-raising proposals. Without spending discipline, he said, pressure will build when the next economic dip occurs, to expand slot machine gambling to full-blown casinos.

Finance reports

The newest campaign finance reports show Robey and Adler raised almost identical amounts since late August, but Robey maintained a big financial advantage overall.

Each raised $24,000, but Robey has raised $200,000 in total, while Adler raised $83,000. The incumbent outspent Adler $71,000 to $31,000 in this latest reporting period, and had more than double Adler's cash reserves left.

In the District 13 state Senate race, Democrat C. Vernon Gray reported raising $68,919 this period, although $35,000 was in loans. He spent $79,775 and had $26,472 left, but owes $53,300 in loans.

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