Opponents share a name

In 10th, Kelly vs. Kelley is focus of Senate race

Maryland Votes 2006

August 30, 2006|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,Sun reporter

State Sen. Delores G. Kelley is concerned that voters might get her mixed up with her chief rival in the primary election.

It's not because the Randallstown Democrat and her opponent hold the same views on issues, though they do not seem to be far apart on many matters. Volunteers for Kelley, a three-term state senator, have made a point of calling voters and telling them, "Don't be confused by her opponent with the same last name. ... Make sure you vote to re-elect Sen. Delores Kelley, not some other Kelly."

On challenger Pat Kelly's campaign Web site, it says, "It's time for a change. Vote this Kelly, not that Kelley."

Although a third Democrat is running in the primary in the 10th District, the race seems to have largely become Kelley vs. Kelly.

The other name on the ballot in the Democratic primary is Charles E. Arthur, 60, a retired parole officer who said he isn't actively campaigning.

With no other candidates from other parties running, the winner of the primary will win a four-year term in the Senate. The district includes the predominantly African-American neighborhoods of Woodlawn and Randallstown, Lochearn and part of Catonsville.

Pat Kelly, a 59-year-old city court clerk and union leader, entered the race on the eve of the Aug. 7 filing deadline, and she is playing a bit of catch-up in her campaign. She's late on filing her fundraising reports and is accumulating daily fines for the tardiness. She expects to use primarily her own money for the signs, brochures and other literature that is being printed.

However, she has a prominent Liberty Road location for her campaign headquarters and has formed an alliance with William R. Buie, a Baltimore County Circuit Court candidate, and Barry Chapman, who is running for a House of Delegates seat in the district. And she has recorded a television commercial that was to have begun running yesterday on cable channels.

Kelly is president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees' statewide chapter of court employees. She says she's been a regular in Annapolis during legislative sessions during the past 15 years, testifying on issues important to the 300 members of her local, such as collective bargaining.

Kelly says her main goal, if elected, would be to bring more state money back to the district to address such issues as providing more affordable child care, reducing school crowding and addressing congestion along the Liberty Road corridor.

"There's a two-year waiting list for 2-year-olds in day care in this area," said Kelly, who favors more state help for such issues.

She also says that she would attend more neighborhood meetings than the current senator.

Kelly lives in Randallstown with her husband, Ivan, a retired postal worker, and their 15-year-old daughter.

Both she and Delores Kelley, who was elected to the state Senate in 1994 and before that served for a term in the House of Delegates, are talking about ways to reduce the number and improve the quality of group homes in the area.

Kelley, a retired Coppin State University professor, also says education and reforms to help vulnerable people, including the disabled and the elderly, are top priorities for her.

"I'm concerned with the condition of seniors," said Kelley, 70.

Kelley also noted that several senior day care facilities in the district have closed, in part, because the state is not reimbursing them enough to cover rising expenses, such as gas, even though federal regulations say reimbursement should be adjusted for the cost of living.

The veteran legislator, who serves on the powerful Senate Finance Committee, said she sponsored a bill that passed this year to create a better system for mentoring new teachers.

"Public education in this district lags behind the county as a whole," said Kelley. "I see a direct correlation between staffing patterns and achievement levels."

More experienced teachers need to be assigned to schools where most of the students are minorities, she said.

Kelley said the county school board should be more professional and diverse, and that the governor should not have sole appointment power for the panel. Last year, she was among a group of legislators dissatisfied with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s handling of a round of appointments to the board, and she unsuccessfully sought legislation to require Senate confirmation of school board appointees.

Although Kelley has stock in Wal-Mart and other companies, according to state disclosure forms, she voted for the bill to require Wal-Mart to pay more for its employees' health care this year. She also voted to defer most of the BGE electric rate increase and replace Public Service Commission members.

Kelley had about $26,280 on hand in mid-August for her campaign, according to state reports.

She lives in Randallstown with her husband, Russell, a professor at Morgan State University. They have three grown children and two granddaughters.

Arthur said when he filed to be on the ballot that Kelley had no challengers. "I don't believe anyone should be elected unopposed," said Arthur, a Vietnam veteran who has previously served on the Democratic Central Committee and unsuccessfully sought a seat on the Baltimore County Council in 2002.

He said he has been disappointed that the area doesn't have more amenities to serve the middle- and upper-class families in the district. Arthur lives in Randallstown with his wife, Linda. They have five grandchildren.


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