Fort Meade is a key issue

Subway extension, tax credits considered to manage congestion

District 32

Maryland Votes 2006

11 Days Until Nov. 7

October 27, 2006|By Susan Gvozdas | Susan Gvozdas,Special to the Sun

In the heavily Democratic 32nd District, how to handle the growth of Fort Meade is the key issue for voters on Nov. 7.

Six candidates are competing for the three seats in the House of Delegates representing the northwestern corner of Anne Arundel: Democratic Dels. Mary Ann Love and Theodore J. Sophocleus and County Councilwoman Pamela Beidle, who is barred from seeking a third term, and Republican Del. Terry R. Gilleland Jr.; Mark Chang, a risk management consultant for insurers; and Wayne Smith, senior director of information technology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Sophocleus, 67, of Linthicum served in the House from 1993-1995 and since 1999. He works in the county state's attorney's office and has been active in seeking relief from increases in health care expenses and in cracking down on sex offenders. Love, a 66-year-old from Glen Burnie who serves as the county House delegation chairwoman, hopes to do more for veterans' pensions, if re-elected to a fourth term.

If elected, this would be the first win for Gilleland, who was appointed in 2003 to fill a vacancy. An account manager with a computerized testing firm, Gilleland, 29, of Glen Burnie, is the former chairman of the county's GOP central committee and a former student member of the county school board. He was acquitted of drunken driving and related charges earlier this year. Gilleland said he helped get funding for the expansion of Routes 295 and 175, and supports the state and county working together on controlled growth to preserve open space.

Beidle, 55, of Linthicum is an insurance agent who during her tenure on the council revitalize derelict shopping centers by passing four bills that allowed reuse and zoning changes.

Chang, 30, of Glen Burnie is active in the local GOP. The son of Korean immigrants, if elected, he would become the first Asian-American from Anne Arundel County to win a legislative seat.

Smith, 53, of Severn, believes his 30 years of experience in the health-care industry will help the legislature deal with rising insurance costs and malpractice premiums.

The addition of 20,000 jobs over five years at the Army post in western Anne Arundel County will impact education, housing and roads. All of them support some kind of aid - such as tax incentives and help with closing costs - to provide affordable housing for police, firefighters, and teachers.

"We need to make sure that the people who are benefiting from (the Base Realignment and Closure process) also are helping pay for it," Smith said.

He promotes his background in budgeting and management as an asset in analyzing the issue. Smith would press for a study to determine whether an extension of the Metro Green Line to Fort Meade would relieve congestion. He said the extension assumes - perhaps incorrectly - that everyone would be commuting from south of the station, but he thinks there won't be enough commuters to support a line to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Chang and Gilleland support extending the Green Line to Fort Meade, but not to the airport because of the disruption to homes and communities. Chang said developers should have to contribute more to fund roadwork to the communities they want to build.

Gilleland supports a county tax credit to businesses that offer telecommuting and flexible scheduling to reduce traffic.

Sophocleus said he has been meeting with officials at Fort Meade for the past two years to coordinate a federal, state and county effort. Eliminating blight along Route 175 would allow development, but he said that must be balanced with protecting the community feel of Seven Oaks and Piney Orchard.

Love and Beidle support extending the Green Line to Fort Meade and BWI.

Love said the county has funding for 60 additional police officers, but low pay and the lack of affordable housing keep recruits away. She would like to pursue federal or state funds to increase salaries or provide tax breaks to officers who come to Anne Arundel.

Beidle said many recruits are wary of the county after the county executive laid off 16 newly hired officers in 2003. If elected to the General Assembly, Beidle said she would provide more funding to anti-crime organizations, such as C-SAFE, in crime hot spots.

As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Sophocleus successfully worked on "Jessica's Law" to increase the minimum sentencing for sexual predators. Gilleland and Smith, however, said more needs to be done to strengthen the law.

Gilleland also wants to restore state funding for patrols on the light-rail line run by the Maryland Transportation Authority. Some constituents have said trains have brought criminals into Linthicum.

Love thinks that schools might need to hire more security personnel and wants to convene a forum of education officials to see how to make schools safer.

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