Budget deficit, safety top 12th District issues

GOP candidates criticize `one-party' control in Md.

October 28, 2002|By Stephanie Hanes | Stephanie Hanes,SUN STAFF

The state budget deficit, public safety and one-party rule are issues that loom large in the races for House of Delegates and state Senate in the 12th District.

A political newcomer is running against a legislative veteran for the Senate seat in the district, which covers Catonsville, Arbutus, Lansdowne, Oella and parts of eastern Howard County. Four candidates -- two Republicans and two Democrats -- are seeking the two House seats in District 12A. Del. Elizabeth Bobo, a Democrat, is running unopposed for the 12B seat representing communities in Howard County.

State Senate

Republican Mike Sneeringer Sr., 67, a semiretired Catonsville resident, said he has been complaining about the Democratic politicians for 40 years.

Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, the incumbent Democrat from Columbia, has served in the legislature almost half that long.

The political neophyte and the General Assembly veteran will face off for the 12th District Senate seat.

"It's about time the Democrats had to answer to somebody," said Sneeringer, who regularly stops by the employee benefits and administration business he founded. "In effect, the state of Maryland has been controlled by one party for 100 years. ... And you know what happens when you have that power for so long? You get arrogant."

Kasemeyer, 57, who works at the Injured Workers Insurance Fund, said his experience and growing influence in the General Assembly make him the best person to represent the district.

"There's no question that it takes quite a while to become familiar with the subject matter, to become effective, to assume the responsibility and role of leadership," he said.

He said the No. 1 priority of the legislature this session will be the budget deficit, which could reach $1.7 billion.

But Baltimore and Howard counties also have their needs, he said.

In Baltimore County, older communities should have repairs and maintenance work done on aging infrastructure. Howard County will require resources for school construction and other growth-related projects.

Kasemeyer also said health care should be in the General Assembly's focus. "We need to find ways to insure more people," he said.

He and Sneeringer have a particular interest in mental health.

Sneeringer said one of his top priorities as senator would be to get better programs for children with learning differences.

Better education for these children could reduce juvenile delinquency, he said, noting the high number of youth offenders found to have a learning difference, such as dyslexia.

The focus for Sneeringer is as personal as it is practical. His daughter, who he said ended up earning A's at Catholic University, struggled with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder until she entered the Jemicy School in Baltimore.

Sneeringer also said he doesn't want the state to tax seniors' pension as income.

House of Delegates

Two Democrats and two Republicans are fighting to represent district 12A in the General Assembly.

Democrat James E. Malone Jr., 45, of Arbutus is the only incumbent in the race, since redistricting knocked Republican Donald E. Murphy out of the district.

Malone is a 25-year veteran of the Baltimore County Fire Department and said constituent services have been, and will continue to be, his priority in Annapolis.

He said he has his beeper on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ready to take calls from residents.

For the past eight years, he said, he has been attending all the community association meetings in his district, and has pushed projects of local interest, such as the Arbutus streetscape, school renovations and sidewalk repairs.

"There are so many positive projects going on," he said. "I'd like to be there to make sure I see them through."

He is running with Democrat Steven J. DeBoy Sr., 46, a retired Baltimore County police officer from Halethorpe.

"I have a great respect for public service work," DeBoy said. "I used to enforce the laws. Now I want to go in and hopefully make some good ones."

DeBoy said he has been involved in various community groups, serving on the school board, coaching Little League, working with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, among other activities.

He said public safety and education would be his top priorities in Annapolis.

"I think Sept. 11 really changed the dynamics for law enforcement and public safety in general," he said.

"I want funding to stay at levels -- and increase if possible -- to make sure police, fire, emergency medical technicians have the equipment to respond to biological attacks."

Joe Hooe, 34, a Republican business owner from Lansdowne, has similar priorities.

But his public safety concerns focus on what's going on in the district, he said, such as illegal drug use and sales. He said poor response from elected officials to this issue, as well as to issues in the school system, such as illegal registration, prompted him to run.

"I had to run from the problem and move, or run for office and try to change things," he said.

He said he wants to see stricter regulation of 60-day temporary license plates, which he said are often used by drug dealers on stolen cars, making it difficult for police to track them.

He also said he wants changes to the state's Medicare program to reduce prescription costs.

Harry Korrell, 65, a former naval officer from Catonsville, also said the official response to problems troubling the district -- and the state -- has been poor. And that, he said, is largely because of Maryland's virtual one-party system.

"If you don't have two-party rule, you really are placing yourself at risk," he said.

Korrell was a longtime independent, but now is hoping to replace Murphy as the area's Republican representative. He decried the redistricting that pushed Murphy out of the race, calling it "unacceptable."

As a delegate, he said, he wants to be a check on the majority party's agenda.

"I want to bring some fiscal sanity and responsibility to what goes on in Annapolis," he said.

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