House of Delegates contenders focus on immigration, cost of living, insurance

Crowded field in 31st race

Maryland Votes 2006

September 08, 2006|By Anica Butler | Anica Butler,sun reporter

Five Republicans and seven Democrats are competing on Tuesday to represent District 31 in the House of Delegates, in the largest contest in the county.

Incumbents are trying to keep two of the district's three seats; the third is being vacated by longtime Republican Del. John R. Leopold, who is running for county executive.

Though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district, which encompasses Pasadena, Brooklyn Park, Glen Burnie and part of Severna Park, Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. is confident that Republicans can win all three seats.

"The support in the community is phenomenal" for conservative politicians and issues, Dwyer said.

In his first term, he made a name for himself when he unsuccessfully championed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. He has also been outspoken in his opposition to issuing drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants.

Dwyer, 48, of Glen Burnie said he's running for re-election because he has "unfinished business" on both issues. He responds to criticism that he has not done enough for the voters in the district by saying his issues affect more people.

"Because they're not specific to the district, they have a higher level of importance and priority," he said. "Local issues people care about are things like potholes, sidewalks and trees. Those are issues for the County Council."

Dwyer raised $14,345 and had more than $11,000 to spend as of Aug. 8, according the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Three of the four other Republican candidates agree that combating illegal immigration is a top concern. Pat Corcoran, 50, is a department director at the Maryland Aviation Administration at Baltimore--Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport; James Braswell, 28, is an attorney; Steve Schuh, 46, is a financial adviser to health care companies.

Braswell of Pasadena said he'd push for a law that would punish businesses that employ illegal immigrants, and supports mandatory health insurance for all.

He said he got into the race because the other candidates disappointed him.

"Now, more than ever, we need to have the best educated people," Braswell said. "I'm done with politicians. We need statesmen." He had raised $6,912 as of the state campaign-filing deadline.

Corcoran, the county director of ABATE, a motorcycle rights group, raised more than $12,000.

He said that, if elected, he would sponsor legislation to require that the drivers' licenses of foreigners be set to expire on the same date that their visas expire.

"If they overstay their visa and become illegal, they no longer have a license," he said.

Corcoran of Glen Burnie said he also is in favor of reducing property taxes for senior citizens whose primary residence is in the district.

Schuh of Gibson Island said he'd look for ways to stop the influx of illegal immigrants in the state, in part because they take jobs away from American citizens.

"The concerns are that they are not paying their fair share of taxes ... they are fraudulently obtaining drivers' licenses and voting and ... they themselves are being exploited by unscrupulous employers," Schuh said.

Schuh added that he also wants to see a return to "traditional American values" and "a culture of life." He opposes stem cell research when human embryos are destroyed, but supports research on umbilical cord and adult stem cells.

"My view is that medical research is very quickly going to make this debate about the destruction of embryos moot," he said. He raised nearly $50,000 and had more cash than any other candidate - $84,318 - going into the race's final month.

All of the candidates - except Dwyer - said they are concerned about the rising cost of living in the district.

For Nicholaus Kipke, 27, a manufacturer's broker, it's his primary issue. He said that, if elected, he will look for ways to make the area more affordable and root out wasteful spending in state government.

Kipke, of Pasadena, also said he would like Maryland to ban all mercury from childhood vaccines. He raised $16,342 and had $30,965 available to spend.

On the Democratic ballot is Del. Joan A. Cadden of Brooklyn Park, who is seeking her fifth four-year term. She is the only Anne Arundel County legislator on the House capital budget subcommittee, and she sits on panels that oversee the Chesapeake Bay watershed, pensions and juvenile justice.

"I hope to continue being successful on veterans' issues and education issues and any issues that will face my district," she said. She noted among her successes several school construction and dredging projects. Something she plans to address if re-elected is affordable housing.

Cadden, 64, raised $3,800 by Aug. 8, but had nearly $20,000 on hand then.

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