Chief focus is on growth at Fort Meade

District 32

Maryland Votes 2006

September 08, 2006|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,sun reporter

As the Pentagon prepares to transform Fort Meade into a government campus, the surrounding communities in legislative District 32 face enormous changes with the arrival of new businesses, thousands of workers and a multitude of services.

"District 32 ... It has elements of the transition of Anne Arundel County as a whole. It is an area that was populated either pre-[World War II] or postwar and had a lot of working class people who left Baltimore City and decided to move to that area," said Dan Nataf, head of the Center for the Study of Local Issues at Anne Arundel Community College. "Now, it is partly generational and partly new development."

The delegates in the western Anne Arundel County district are two Democrats and one Republican - but that Republican is joined in next week's GOP primary by four other candidates.

Del. Terry R. Gilleland Jr. and fellow Republicans Mark S. Chang, Robert Middleswarth, Tiger Pimentel and Wayne Charles Smith share concerns about how to best deal with the effects of a booming workforce, disaffection with the way the General Assembly handled the whopping rate hikes that stemmed from what they view as a flawed utility deregulation plan and reluctance to increase taxes. But they differ on whether to bring slot machines to Maryland and on other matters.

The three winners will square off in the November general election against two Democratic incumbents, Mary Ann Love of Glen Burnie and Theodore J. Sophocleus of Linthicum, and County Council member Pamela Beidle of Linthicum, who was barred by term limits from seeking re-election to her council seat.

Appointed in 2003 to fill the term of James E. Rzepkowski, who took a state government position, Gilleland, 29, of Glen Burnie is seeking a full term.

A former chairman of the county's GOP central committee and a former student member of the county school board, Gilleland was acquitted of drunken driving and related charges earlier this year ."Clearly, I have grown from the experience," he said.

The federal government should contribute toward infrastructure and related improvements to the areas that stem from Fort Meade's expansion, he said. Gilleland thinks a possible extension of Metro's Green Line from Greenbelt threading to Fort Meade and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, now under study, may be justified as far the Odenton Town Center area. However, he has concerns about security and the effect on communities of extending it beyond there.

He has sponsored or co-sponsored legislation to help businesses and homeowners and said he brings a "bipartisan spirit" in the interest of legislative accomplishments.

An account manager with a computerized testing firm, Gilleland said he believes slots should be confined to racetracks.

Chang, 30, of Glen Burnie, also has been politically involved, serving on the Republican Central Committee and a state Republican diversity group. His slogan is "Change starts with Chang."

The son of Korean immigrants, he has been active in voter registration drives, especially in minority communities. If Chang is elected in the fall, he would be the first Asian-American from Anne Arundel County to win a legislative seat, Nataf said.

Self-employed as a risk management consultant for insurers, Chang said the federal government should help pay for capital improvements attributable to changes at Fort Meade. But, he said, he wants developers to contribute their fair share as well. At the same time, he said, the state should look to ease the tax burden on small businesses, homeowners and others, and re-examine how it is allocating money.

He is unsure if the potential extension of Metro's Green Line would be worthwhile but wants more information.

"Telecommuting is a big thing," he said.

He opposes bringing slots to Maryland.

Middleswarth, 35, of Severn, a systems administrator for an answering service in Baltimore, said he decided to seek office out of dissatisfaction with the Democratic-controlled General Assembly.

He said he would be leery of federal dollars paying for improvements in the region because of strings that may be attached.

"If the federal government wants to give us a matching grant, that is one thing. But this is a state and local government issue," he said.

He said he wants to see the study about the possible Green Line extension before deciding if it is worth it.

Middleswarth said he favors slot machines at racetracks.

Pimentel, 29, of Severn, said he believes voters want less bickering and more results from legislators.

He buys, remodels and then either rents or sells homes, and said legislators should be mindful of the need for affordable housing.

Federal officials should fund capital improvements, but state and local officials must make commitments for recurring costs, including salaries for teachers, police officers and firefighters, he said.

He said he wants to see what the positives and negatives are from the study on the Green Line expansion.

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