Balto. Co. endorsements [Editorial]

The Sun's picks in selected General Assembly and County Council races

June 10, 2014

The Sun makes endorsements for state legislature and County Council in the following races:

8th District

Redistricting left the residents of the 8th District with two incumbents for three spots. Del. John Cluster, Christian Miele and Norma Secoura are unopposed in the Republican primary, but there is significant competition among the Democrats. Del. Eric Bromwell, though still young at 37, is running for his fourth term in Annapolis, and he has matured as a lawmaker during his time. He is fiscally conservative, as befits his district, but he took a courageous stance in support of marriage equality, which encouraged other centrist Democrats to join the cause. Look for him to move up to a position of leadership in his next term. He has our endorsement. Among a field of good candidates, we endorse Renee Smith and Harry Bhandari. Ms. Smith is a long-time aide to state Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, and she brings tremendous knowledge of the district and experience in constituent service. Mr. Bhandari is a native of Nepal who started out in this country as a gas station attendant and worked his way through college and graduate school. He is now a teacher, and he has a passion for education policy. He has an immigrant's drive and appreciation for the opportunities this country affords, and we have no doubt that he would work hard to make sure others have the same chances to succeed.

10th District

Redistricting and the retirement of Del. Emmett Burns leaves the 10th District on Baltimore County's west side with just one incumbent, Del. Adrienne Jones. Don't let Delegate Jones' low-key demeanor fool you, this veteran lawmaker has a sharp sense of the issues and represents her district well. As speaker pro tempore, she is also the highest ranking member of the county delegation in either chamber. She deserves re-election. We also support one of the candidates Delegate Jones has selected as a member of her ticket, Carin Smith. Ms. Smith is the daughter-in-law of former County Executive James T. Smith Jr., but she earns our endorsement because of her professional and personal involvement in helping children with mental health or developmental disability needs. Given the history of waiting lists for such services in Maryland, the General Assembly could use more advocates for those families. Finally, we endorse Rob Johnson, a real star among candidates for the legislature this year. He is a young attorney and UMBC graduate who displays a depth of knowledge about the issues that few veteran members of the legislature could match.

11th District

We strongly support the re-election of incumbents Dan Morhaim and Dana Stein. Dr. Morhaim, the only physician serving in the General Assembly, has provided crucial expertise to matters of health care, including championing the legalization of medical marijuana. Mr. Stein, a long-time director of a Baltimore AmeriCorps service organization with degrees from Harvard, Princeton and Columbia, has been an important voice for social welfare and environmental causes in Annapolis.

That leaves a third seat that was left open when Del. Jon Cardin decided to run for attorney general. Four well-qualified candidates are vying to replace him, but we believe the best choice of the challengers is Shelly Hettleman of Pikesville, a long-time aide to U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin who is running for elected office for the first time.

Ms. Hettleman is well-known in the district having worked not only on Senator Cardin's election staff but on Capitol Hill, and she has developed an expertise in domestic violence and family issues. She would be the first woman to represent the district in the House of Delegates in 30 years. Also deserving of consideration is Don Engel, assistant vice president for research at University of Maryland Baltimore County who not only has a doctorate in physics but some independent-minded experience in politics as well.

12th District

The shape of the 12th District shifted to become majority Howard County in the latest redistricting. Gone are the two subdistricts and, just as significantly, all three incumbent House delegates have stepped down.

Without the incumbents, the race has attracted three Republicans who will pass along to the general election, while 10 Democrats are vying for three spots in the general.

Those Democrats offer a variety of life experiences and come from all portions of the district. We found many of them to be capable to serve in Annapolis but three rose to the top for us. They are Eric Ebersole. Clarence Lam and Terri Hill.

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