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Gambrills resident is sole Republican running in District 21

Katherine Butcher
Katherine Butcher (Submitted photo)

The pitfalls of government regulation, in Katherine Butcher's view, are well illustrated by a recent experience the Gambrills resident had while adopting her dog, a stray who ran into her yard before a storm this July.

"I go to animal control to get the dog his license, and this young woman looks at me and says, 'You know, legally, you were supposed to work through us,'" Butcher recalled. "Who would have thought that you couldn't take a stray dog into your own house because of all these regulations? It's just all gotten so blown out of control."

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Butcher, 58, a delegate candidate, is the only Republican running in District 21, a carat-shaped district that skims the Prince George's-Montgomery County line before crossing into Anne Arundel County, encompassing parts of Laurel, College Park, Gambrills and Odenton.

She's up against Democratic incumbents Ben Barnes, Joseline Peña-Melnyk and Barbara Frush in the race for the House of Delegates. District 21 State Sen. Jim Rosapepe is running unopposed.

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This is Butcher's first campaign, although she was a volunteer for Republican congressional district 4 candidate Faith Loudon's bid against incumbent Rep. Donna Edwards in 2012.

Early this year, Loudon encouraged Butcher to run for the Republican central committee in Anne Arundel County, so she decided to file. Then, just a few days before the filing deadline in February, she got a call from Prince George's County Republican Central Committee chair Heather Olsen.

"[Olsen] said, 'Would you consider running? You could at least give people a choice between the three incumbents and somebody else,'" Butcher said. "I said, you know, we have to try for it. Sometimes things fall in your lap, and I really do believe we regret more what we haven't done than what we've tried to do."

Butcher, who homeschooled both her children from early elementary school all the way through high school graduation, has endowed her candidacy with the guiding philosophy that what Maryland needs is more freedom of choice.

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"You hear politicians talk about how democracy made us great," she said. "It wasn't democracy that made us great. It was liberty and freedom and property rights."

Butcher would like to start adding to that liberty with an expansion of educational options for the state's children; by growing the number of charter schools available; and creating public-private partnerships to allow for vocationally minded kids to serve apprenticeships at local businesses.

"Not every kid wants to, or can afford to, go to college, but they all need skills," she said. "We need to respect those people that work with their hands."

Butcher's own experience homeschooling her children has confirmed her belief that every kid has their own learning style, which is also why she opposes the Common Core.

"We're teaching them not to love learning," she said. "And learning has to be a lifelong thing."

Beyond education, Butcher would like to see a lock-box placed on special funds, such as revenue from tolls and the gas tax, because, she said, constituents expect their elected officials to "be good stewards of their hard-earned money."

She also hopes to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians. Butcher is just barely in District 21 herself – her neighbors across the street live in District 23.

"We've lived there for 22 years and my neighbors can't even vote for me – that's how badly this district has been gerrymandered," she said.

"Knowing the boundaries is very hard for me, because it doesn't make sense in my mind," she added. "We've got three distinct population centers here: College Park, Laurel, Gambrills-Odenton. Keeping up with the issues on all three of those is difficult, and you've also divided neighborhoods so it's hard to get people politically active."

Butcher hopes the frustration she hears from some voters will lead to change at the polls this November.

"People feel disenfranchised," she said, "but I'm hoping and praying that they're angry enough to get out there and vote.

"Even though people want to stay out of politics, politics isn't going to stay out of your life."

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