Five candidates running to represent the Catonsville area in the state Senate for District 44 and House of Delegates for District 44B spoke before a small group during a political forum held at the Christian Temple on Edmondson Avenue Wednesday evening.
"I think they did an excellent job tonight expressing their personalities as well as how they would represent the area," said Sherry Welch, a Catonsville resident who co-hosted the event with the Rev. Rick Powell, pastor of Christian Temple.
Two Democratic candidates contending for a seat in the state Senate in the newly redrawn district, Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, who currently represents District 10 that includes part of Catonsville, and incumbent state Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell, who currently represents District 44 in Baltimore City, spoke at the event.
Three of the five Democratic candidates running for delegate in the newly drawn district 44B — Aaron Barnett, of Woodlawn, Rainier Harvey, of Windsor Mill, and Pat Young, of Catonsville — also spoke.
The three, along with Charles Sydnor and Frederick Ware-Newsome, are vying for the two new open seats in District 44B.
The new district is a result of the state's 2012 redistricting and includes parts of Woodlawn and Catonsville that previously belonged to District 10.
The district's third seat in the House of Delegates will represent District 44B, which includes a portion of West Baltimore.
One state senator will represent District 44.
No Republican candidates have entered either race as of Feb. 20. The filing deadline is Feb. 25.
"I was disappointed Sydnor couldn't make it. He seems to have a good grasp on policy issues," said 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk, who attended the forum and has endorsed Harvey.
The candidates introduced themselves to the crowd and answered four questions prepared in advance about education, economic development, marijuana legalization and collaboration with public officials.
"A couple of the questions were framed broadly and a couple of them were direct — and I thought we got some direct answers," Welch said.
Welch said she was particularly impressed by Harvey's answers to the questions and Young's commitment to the community.
Harvey, a retired Baltimore County police officer, currently serves as a member of the Baltimore County Planning Board. He touted his experience working with elected officials, and cited the endorsements of Quirk and Nathan-Pulliam for his candidacy.
"I understand how the system works," Harvey said. "At this time, we need someone who can go to Annapolis that understands how the process works and can move forward. I believe I am one of those individuals who can represent you in that way."
Harvey said he has been involved in the political process for more than 25 years, having served as political director for Del. Adrienne Jones (District 10) and as chief-of-staff for Baltimore City Councilman Bernard C. "Jack" Young.
Young, who served two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps, is now a coordinator for the Department of Veterans Services at Towson University.
He said his commitment to the community sets him apart from other candidates.
"The ability to serve the community in a more comprehensive way would be an honor. I feel that I am capable of doing so and that I have the right mindset to do so," Young, 30, said.
"I will serve this community with the same honor, courage and commitment that I did when I served in the military," Young said.