Legislative Districts

Election 2002

October 28, 2002

The Sun continues its Nov. 5 general election endorsements with races in legislative districts 5B, 10, 11, 12A and 42.

VOTERS IN NORTHERN and western Baltimore County would be hard-pressed to find issues that sharply define the candidates for the General Assembly. "Every politician wants better schools, less development, less traffic, more safety," says one of those candidates, Democrat Stephen C. Kirsch. "Who in their right mind would say anything else?"

For that kind of candor alone, Mr. Kirsch wins endorsement for the single House of Delegates seat in District 5B. But we also believe that he will bring more energy and a better sense of regional issues to Annapolis than the longtime incumbent, A. Wade Kach, has so far demonstrated.

Theirs is a district that runs to the northern reaches of the county, but from Towson to Arbutus you'll hear candidates repeating pretty much the same stock phrases, with minor local variations. So voters are going to have to weigh stick-to-it-iveness, intelligence, dedication, experience, effectiveness and, yes, party affiliation in making their decisions.

District 10: This is a district defined by Liberty Road, and heavily Democratic. In the Senate race, Republican Robbie Page has based her campaign on an effort to extend the M-8 bus line, which is a proposal we heartily endorse -- but the district needs more than a one-issue candidate, and that makes Delores G. Kelley the easy pick.

Senator Kelley dropped incumbent Del. Emmett C. Burns from her slate this year, for missing votes and opposing gay rights, among other things, but he won in the primary anyway. So now the Democrats have three incumbent candidates for the House -- Mr. Burns, Adrienne Jones and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam -- who are not getting along. Ms. Kelley's dislike for Mr. Burns remains evident, and we can't fault her for it. This is unfortunate, but there's no alternative because the single Republican candidate is woefully unqualified. Voters will have to hope that Mr. Burns turns over a new leaf.

District 11: In Owings Mills, where everyone talks about health care and about development and how to control it, Democratic Sen. Paula Colodny Hollinger has been effective and reasonable. Her opponent, Alan P. Zukerberg, is also too much of a one-issue candidate. He switched his registration this summer from Democrat to Republican just so he could run against her, so angry is he about a proposal to build a methadone clinic in Pikesville.

In the House races, it's easy to pick Del. Dan K. Morhaim for re-election. He's a physician who brings considerable expertise to Annapolis. Bobby A. Zirkin, the other incumbent in the race, has at the age of 31 shown he can work effectively.

The Democrats' third candidate, Jon S. Cardin, is so fresh out of law school that he still includes his grade point average on his rM-isumM-i. Beyond a famous name (he's Congressman Ben Cardin's nephew), he has little in the way of experience that would qualify him for the job.

Among Republicans, J. Michael Collins Sr., a one-time narcotics detective and union shop steward turned kitchen designer, shows the best understanding of the problems of development -- including overcrowded schools and too much willingness by government to accommodate big business. He wants to tone up the Smart Growth program, because, as he says, "it doesn't have a lot of meat and potatoes to it."

District 12A: In Lansdowne and Arbutus, Joe Hooe says he's fluent in Finnish, which may well make him the only Finnish-speaking Republican candidate the district has ever seen. He proposes annual car inspections -- a worthy idea, but considering that he owns a car-inspection station, we don't think he's the man to be pushing it. His GOP running mate, Harry Korrell, keeps talking about how much he has to learn. Honest, maybe. Endorsable -- not very.

That leaves Democrats James E. Malone Jr., an incumbent delegate, and Steven J. DeBoy Sr. for the two seats up for election. Mr. Malone, a county fire lieutenant, is an effective bring-home-the-bacon man. Mr. DeBoy is a retired police officer. At least they'll be strong on public safety.

District 42: From Towson to Timonium, from Ruxton to Lutherville, this is Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s home territory. So much so, in fact, that the Republican slate is running as Team Ehrlich. That sounds as though they should be competing in a minor sport at a lesser European winter athletic contest. We wish they'd drop it -- and we'll do our bit by endorsing only half of them.

Martha Scanlan Klima is as conservative as they get, but at least she says what she means. Her Democratic opponent, Jim Brochin, has the endorsement of Republican Vernon Boozer, but he keeps talking about how conservative he is, too, and he adamantly declares himself to be neutral in the governor's race. If the district wants a conservative, it might as well pick a real one, and one who's willing to take a stand.

On the House side, we think that Matthew Joseph has done a terrific job at Advocates for Children and Youth, so we can't figure out why he wants to go to the House of Delegates as a freshman from Baltimore County. He says he expects to rise quickly. We prefer steadier hands.

Our choices are Republican Susan L.M. Aumann, who once made a living selling cars and ought to know something about give-and-take, and Democrats James W. Campbell and Stephen W. Lafferty. Mr. Campbell started his political life in inner-city Baltimore, and through redistricting over the years has gradually moved to Ruxton; no matter, he's an asset to his district and to the legislature. Mr. Lafferty has years of experience in community groups in the county.

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