Fighting to negate home-field advantage

Geography a key factor in District 7 council race

Anne Arundel

October 30, 2002|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

At recent forums, candidates in Anne Arundel's 7th District County Council race have talked about the need for a new high school in Crofton, land preservation programs to protect local farms and long-range planning based on input from citizens.

In campaign strategy sessions, however, they've talked about geography. Both candidates - Democrat Bill Rinehart and Republican Ed Reilly - are hoping to win on what they consider their opponent's home turf.

They fear that where they live - Rinehart in Harwood, Reilly in Crofton - could sway voters who believe that only a representative from their end of the district will understand their needs.

In an effort to overcome geographic favoritism, Rinehart has sent mailers to homes in Gambrills, and Reilly has met with residents in Churchton and Shady Side.

"We bump into each other a great deal," said Reilly, 52, the owner of a Crofton insurance office.

Reilly, who was endorsed by late Council member John J. Klocko III, a Republican from Crofton who was killed in a two-car accident Oct. 5 in Utah, says he needs to win more than 30 percent of votes in the southern half of the district to beat Rinehart, 64, a socially and politically connected Lothian native.

Both men say they support the county's voter-approved tax cap as well as citizen-based comprehensive rezoning.

They also endorse local efforts to preserve woods and farmlands from further development.

This is especially important to South County voters, many of whom live on or near family farms.

"With development come parking lots and other impervious surfaces, and there will be more runoff, runoff that could eventually end up in the Bay," said Rinehart.

"It is cheaper to preserve agricultural land than it is to build the infrastructure necessary for some of these larger subdivisions," he said.

Rinehart, who is backed by William F. Chaney, a Lothian resident and childhood friend of Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens, has won endorsements from the teachers union as well as local police and firefighters.

He has played up his teachers endorsement in Crofton, where residents are pushing for a new high school.

"I was part of the county government team that set aside land for that high school," said Rinehart at a recent campaign forum at the Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold. Rinehart supports the creation of a 13th high school in the county - and he says he wants it in Crofton.

Rinehart is a married father of two, and he has three grandchildren.

Reilly says the school also could be located in Gambrills or Davidsonville, as long as the school gets built.

"Fiscally, it'd be better to put it in Crofton since we own the land," said Reilly, who is married and has four children and a grandchild.

"But if focusing on Crofton keeps us from getting the school, then we have to be politically wise enough to shift gears," he said.

Recently, Reilly criticized Rinehart for failing to register his campaign committee with the Maryland State Board of Elections before accepting contributions. Rinehart registered his committee with the state Board of Elections in November last year but had raised about $2,700 by then. Reilly said Rinehart's actions showed a "pattern" of illegal activity.

"I totally disagree with that," said Rinehart. "We made some mistakes. I am not a seasoned campaigner, but we weren't trying to circumvent anything."

Rinehart has raised significantly more campaign money than Reilly - $95,837 compared with $39,675. Reilly says he is being more fiscally responsible than his opponent.

"It's flattering that he takes me so seriously," said Reilly.

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