Rich Corkran entered his first political race "kind of on a whim." In 2006, the Ellicott City Democrat decided to run against incumbent Republican state Sen. Allan Kittleman in District 9 when no one else stepped forward "because I felt people needed another choice," he said.
In 2014, Corkran will be running for a different seat as a candidate for the House of Delegates in District 9B, but his message is the same.
"In a democracy, there should always be choices," he said.
By joining the District 9B race, Corkran, who filed Oct. 1, ensures there will be a Democratic primary — blogger and former Columbia Association member Tom Coale announced his candidacy in June. On the Republican side, voters so far have a choice between Carol Loveless, an Ellicott City businesswoman, and Bob Flanagan, an attorney and former delegate and state transportation secretary.
Corkran, 66, said he brings "long roots in the community and firm Democratic values" to the table. He's lived in Howard County since 1973 and in Ellicott City since 1984.
Corkran, who is retired, made a career as a math and computer science teacher, first at Glenelg Country School, then at Patapsco Middle School and finally Hammond High School.
He said education is his priority.
"Being a former educator, I believe passionately in education at all levels and if elected I will continue to work in that direction," he said.
He said Howard County faces a challenge with the school system's [widening] achievement gap.
"We're number one but we can't rest on our laurels," he said. "There's still room for improvement. ... We've got an achievement gap, and that's not an easy issue [to solve]."
He said the solution would have to start with getting families actively involved in education, offering more pre-K educational programs and making sure kids are supported through middle and high school, which is where the achievement gap widens.
Other important issues for Corkran are public safety and health care.
As for fiscal issues, he said he's more conservative than some of his Democratic peers. "I really don't think we can raise the taxes more than we've already raised them," he said. Another of his goals would be working to bring businesses to Maryland.
He said he hoped his views and community ties would make him a good choice for voters. Corkran is president of the Brampton Hills Community Association and of the Western Howard Democratic Club. He sits on the county's Democratic Central Committee, and he coached youth sports for many years.
And if anyone else wants to join the race in District 9B?
"I certainly would applaud anyone that wants to run," he said.