Jimeno runs hard against novice

Democratic senator not taking GOP rival in District 31 lightly

October 31, 2002|By Laura Loh | Laura Loh,SUN STAFF

It's his sixth time running for re-election, and state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno is out to show voters that he hasn't lost his passion for the job.

The Democrat will be opposed Tuesday by political newcomer David K. Kyle as he attempts to keep his seat in District 31, in northern Anne Arundel County.

Kyle, 37, is a political novice - a warehouseman who wrote to the Republican Party in June expressing interest in running in "any race" - but Jimeno said he is running this campaign as he would any other.

"I don't minimize his opposition," said Jimeno, 55. "I take nothing for granted."

Jimeno has held the same kinds of fund-raisers this year - a golf outing and a bull-and-oyster roast - and knocked on as many doors as he does every election year. He had raised $172,680 as of Oct. 20, which his opponent says is emblematic of what is wrong with politics.

"Politics are so much about money now," said Kyle, who describes himself as a "working-class candidate" and has raised $5,218. "I believe that's wrong. I realize money is a part of it ... but I don't believe you should have to spend a lot of time on that."

Kyle said his evening work shifts at a Mack Truck warehouse have prevented him from doing much knocking on doors. "Having to work to provide for my family, I just can't do that," he said.

Most of his campaigning has involved waving signs on weekends and delivering to people's doorsteps a brochure that he and his four children designed on their home computer.

Kyle said he isn't intimidated by Jimeno's more than two decades in elected office.

"I think I have a better understanding of what the average person goes through," said Kyle, a former Army Airborne pathfinder who has lived in Pasadena for more than a decade. "Whereas, if you've been in politics too long, I think you forget about that."

Kyle said he has long been interested in politics but that the demands of his job have prevented him from participating in the past. He said he decided to run this summer after getting fed up with the quality of his children's education. "They're pouring money into the education system, and it doesn't seem to be getting better," Kyle said.

If elected, he said, he will study ways to improve the educational system, such as by disciplining unruly students.

He said he would support a moratorium on construction in Pasadena.

Jimeno, who lives in Brooklyn Park and is a State Farm insurance agent, questions whether Kyle knows enough about local issues to be an effective representative.

"I've never seen him at a community association meeting, a County Council meeting or a PTA meeting," Jimeno said. "No disrespect to him; I just have not seen him."

If re-elected, Jimeno said, he plans to continue being responsive and accessible to people in the 31st District, where he has lived for 35 years. He said he has missed one day in his years in the legislature, because of a snowstorm. When the Senate is not in session, he attends 20 to 25 community events a month, he said.

Jimeno said his accomplishments in the most recent term include helping establish reversible lanes on Mountain Road to ease traffic and supporting the building of two public golf courses instead of a 2,000-home project on Fort Smallwood Road.

He also sponsored legislation to toughen laws on drunken driving and on juvenile criminals.

Jimeno, who started out as a state delegate in 1979, said he doesn't plan to remain in politics indefinitely. For the time being, he said, there's more work to be done. "I've never lost the enthusiasm for the job," he said.

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