A second Democrat has entered the race for a House seat in District 9A, which represents a traditionally conservative slice of western Howard County.
Woodbine resident Wally Carson announced his candidacy Thursday.
Carson, 70, ran for the same seat in 2002. He came in third place out of four with 10,424 votes, losing to Republicans Gail Bates, who still represents the district, and Bob Flanagan, who this year is running for a seat in the newly drawn District 9B.
In 2014, Carson joins a race with one other Democrat and five Republicans.
Carson, who works as an attorney for the Columbia Union Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, said he was driven to run by his “ongoing concern for the protection and the preservation of the rural nature of Howard County.
“If there is fire in the belly, it is that concern,” he said. “As you look at the legislation that’s been passed in recent years, I think that legislation has shown an insensitivity to communities like western Howard County.”
For Carson, recent laws such as the one levying a stormwater fee on residents of Maryland’s nine largest counties and Baltimore City illustrate what he sees as a disregard for the west from state legislators. In his opposition to the fee, he differs from many Maryland Democrats, who voted to approve it.
“I live in western Howard County and I drink the water in Howard County, and it gives us a different perspective than my fellow Democrats in other portions of the state,” he said. “I love the [Chesapeake] Bay, but I want to make sure that the laws we pass are sensical and function with some degree of logic.”
The County Council voted to adopt a tiered stormwater fee structure last July that charges homeowners and renters $15, $45 or $90 annually, depending on the size of their property.
In general, he said, “all taxes concern me. There may be some taxes that are necessary to live in a civilized community, but I’d like to see the taxes looked at very carefully and passed only if necessary and only as a last resort.”
Carson also said he was supportive of loosening referendum laws in the state. In 2009, he represented citizen activist Marc Norman in an appeal related to Norman’s petition to prevent the owners of Turf Valley Towne Square from expanding the size of a grocery store planned for the center, which is now a Harris Teeter.
The state court of special appeals ultimately ruled that Norman’s petition didn’t have enough valid signatures because many didn’t match up exactly with voter registration records.
“I think the verification of the signatures under current law is so onerous that it creates a burden on the right to referendum,” Carson said. “I would relax those restrictions.”
State Sen. Allan Kittleman and Del. Liz Bobo, both members of Howard County’s current delegation to Annapolis, are sponsoring bills this session to clarify referendum laws related to petition content, though neither includes language about signature verification standards.
Carson said he was encouraged by the bills, but, “Here we have Allan, who is seeking the county executive seat, and Liz, who has announced her intent to retire – I think we need someone here who remains” concerned about referendum laws.
As a member of multiple community organizations, including the Concerned Citizens of Howard County, the Howard County Historical Society, the Community Action Council, the Howard County Chamber of Commerce and the Howard County Citizens Association, Carson said his other priority was to advocate for residents who “struggle to make ends meet.
“I want to be sympathetic and concerned for such persons and want to find ways of helping them to make ends meet and enjoy the rich resources” of Howard County, he said.