3-party House race in 42nd heating up

Education, budget are focus in Towson-area district

October 29, 2002|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

In the Towson-based 42nd District, the race for the three seats in the Maryland House of Delegates has become one of the most heated in Baltimore County, with the Democratic and Republican slates accusing each other of having the wrong answers on education, the budget and the environment, while a Green Party candidate says the other candidates are wrong on just about everything.

Two longtime Republican party activists, Susan L.M. Aumann, 42, an accountant from Timonium, and William J. Frank, 42, of Lutherville, a former banker and development officer for a private school, united on a ticket last spring with Del. Martha S. Klima, who is running for a seat in the state Senate.

After the primary they picked up John G. Trueschler, 45, a landscape architect and attorney from Lutherville, and have run a coordinated campaign, highlighting the same talking points and emphasizing their relationship with Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the GOP gubernatorial nominee.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in yesterday's editions on the Maryland House of Delegates race in the 42nd District incorrectly stated Republican John G. Trueschler's position on legalizing slot machines at racetracks. Trueschler opposes the idea. The Sun regrets the error.

They back slot machines at racetracks; a 4 percent across-the-board spending cut for all state agencies except education, health and public safety; and creating a Maryland version of Project Exile, a gun-crime initiative pioneered in Virginia.

"All of us are concerned about public safety and public education ... but Maryland is broke. We've got some real, tough, wrenching decisions to make in the next 18 months," Frank said. "The answer sometimes in government is `no.' We've said `yes' too often in the last four years."

Democrat James W. Campbell, 54, is the only incumbent in the race. He has served in the House of Delegates for 24 years and is chairman of an education subcommittee. The social worker and one-time neighborhood association president moved to Ruxton during the summer after the Maryland Count of Appeals redrew the legislative maps.

Running with him is Stephen W. Lafferty, 53, of Stoneleigh, who ran unsuccessfully for the House in 1994. Lafferty is also a neighborhood activist and former Baltimore County Planning Board member who works for the state in community revitalization.

Rounding out the ticket is Matthew Joseph, 36, of Towson, who took a leave from his job with Advocates for Children and Youth to mount an aggressive door-to-door campaign, reaching, he said, about 15,000 homes.

Despite the state's predicted $1.7 billion budget shortfall, they emphasize their commitment to fully fund the Thornton Commission legislation, a plan to equalize school funding across the state. They also support Gov. Parris N. Glendening's Smart Growth policies.

The Democrats said they do not favor tax increases, but would do whatever it takes to fully implement Thornton, which would bring $120 million to Baltimore County. The Republicans say they support Thornton conceptually, but would vote for funding only if they think the state can afford it.

The Republicans also say they support Smart Growth in theory, but not the way it has been implemented. Frank said in a recent debate that Glendening had sought to punish Carroll County with sanctions for having voted for Ellen R. Sauerbrey instead of him.

"The problem with the way it has been implemented is that it has too many loopholes in it," Joseph said. "Carroll County has gotten away with murder."

On the budget woes, Campbell said he will rely heavily on a committee organized by House Speaker Casper R. Taylor that is studying the issue, but would consider delaying capital projects or salary increases. Lafferty says the state should evaluate agencies individually for cuts, while Joseph looks on tough times as an opportunity to cut ineffective programs.

Rick Kunkel, 44, of Rodgers Forge is the first Green Party candidate for the state legislature from the Baltimore area. A social worker in mental health clinics for the past 10 years, he champions public financing of elections, strengthened environmental protections, a higher minimum wage and universal health insurance.

Kunkel said he knows his candidacy is a long shot, but that he believes the major parties have sold out to big-money interests. He refuses contributions of more than $100.

"I'm outraged at how your government, our system, has been bought," said Kunkel. "Who's suffering when our state is taken over by big money? Our environment is suffering. The 700,000 people who are uninsured are suffering. The people trying to make a living on minimum wage are suffering."

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