News conferences, ads sell candidates' plans


Political notebook


With the Sept. 12 primaries fast approaching, candidates for Anne Arundel County executive are praising their stances and outlining their policy ideas in news conferences and a barrage of advertising.

In the past two weeks, Democrat Dennis Callahan held a news conference blasting fire and police unions for making endorsements; Republican David G. Boschert spoke of the need to upgrade county infrastructure outside the Mill Creek Pump Station, where a collapsed main in December caused a significant sewage spill; and Republican Phillip D. Bissett trumpeted his "gridlock-free zone initiative" to counter the effects of sprawling development.

Bissett, the party's 2002 nominee for executive, introduced the 13-point plan Saturday in Edgewater. He called for promoting telecommuting efforts for local and state employees and prioritizing traffic projects, noting his efforts as a state delegate in 1998 to secure $21.7 million in state funding to widen Route 2 between Annapolis and Edgewater. He said growth should be funneled into revitalization areas.

Workers want to shorten their commutes, Bissett said. He said his plan would put the county ahead of the curve in doing that.

Callahan, the former county Recreation and Parks director and a former mayor of Annapolis, has not been shy about holding news conferences. He has had at least three in the past three months.

Nearly two weeks ago, at his Annapolis townhouse, Callahan said he would not fill out the fire department union's questionnaire - which asked about pay, benefits and pension - because doing so would undercut his ability as executive to negotiate a fair deal. The current firefighters' contract expires next year.

The Democrat also criticized the county personnel department for "dumbing down" entrance exams to meet the hiring demands of the Fire Department's newly created fourth shift.

Callahan, who has not earned a notable endorsement yet, said that firefighters and police officers represent paramilitary institutions that should stay out of politics. Callahan's primary opponent, county Sheriff George F. Johnson IV, has secured a score of endorsements from office-holders and unions alike.

In early May, Callahan promised to install artificial turf fields at each of the county's 12 high schools.

In mid-June, Callahan told more than 40 parents at Folger McKinsey Elementary in Severna Park that it's imperative that the Board of Education "devise flexible redistricting plans," according to a campaign release.

"Parents should have the option of keeping their children in their current feeder system or sending them to the new location," Callahan said in a statement.

Boschert, a state delegate from Crownsville, spoke nearly two weeks ago at the Mill Creek Pump Station, the site where an aging pipe collapsed, dumping 3 million gallons of sewage into the Magothy River. He vowed to start a pilot program, starting in Arnold, to upgrade wastewater infrastructure throughout the county. He also said he would improve the notification system to inform affected residents of main breaks.

"I want to make sure our infrastructure is up to snuff," Boschert said.

Johnson, who has scheduled news conferences to publicize his endorsements, is turning to the airwaves to get his message across. He unveiled two cable ads last week that highlight his fiscal management of the sheriff's office's budget and his broad plan for countering growth.

The ad buy, estimated at just over $16,000, will run through this week. A spokesman said the Johnson campaign would be running a TV ad blitz up through the primary.

Bissett ran two cable ads last month, but he did not elaborate on future ad buys or other specific strategies.

John R. Leopold, a Republican, and Boschert said their strategies are not likely to include TV ads. Leopold said he would focus on direct voter contact and mailings and hold no news conferences. Boschert said he would rely on mailings and radio ads.

Another Republican, Tom Angelis, said he has just secured a series of cable ad buys and will also take out radio ads. That will be on top of making phone calls and sending e-mails to likely voters.

Callahan said he would not take out cable TV ads, but might pursue some radio spots. He said his main focus would be on direct mail and phone calls.

Republican Gregory V. Nourse said he would send out two mailings this month and a third on the eve of the primary. He will also "do a little bit of radio."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.