Perot strikes chord with Carroll voters Backers see independent as palatable alternative


Michele Hennessey Kantruss is a 36-year-old Woodbine attorney trying something new: Politics.

XTC "I hate politics," she said. "I can't believe I'm doing this."

But she's out collecting signatures on a petition because she isn't happy with the current field of presidential candidates. She wants to hear "President Perot" in November.

She and other countians are working to get independent presidential candidate Ross Perot on the Maryland ballot.

Kantruss said she is "dissatisfied" with the Democratic and Republican candidates. Perot, a Texas billionaire, provides a palatable alternative, she said.

President George Bush has clinched enough delegates to capture the Republican nomination for the presidency, and Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton is the likely Democratic nominee.

Kantruss, who usually votes Democratic, said she agrees with Perot's positions on abortion rights and gun control.

"I like his background as a businessman," Kantruss added.

Evelyn Zagami, 57, of Finksburg, has been making calls from her home to try to recruit Perot supporters.

"He just strikes a chord," she said. "Let's get him on the ballot and see what else he has to say. He comes with a lot of experience."

Zagami said she often watches C-Span, the cable channel that broadcasts congressional sessions, and "I've been shocked by what I've seen."

Members of Congress play too many political "games," she said. The country needs a president who's a leader, she added.

"Bush is failing us in that way with Congress," she said.

Frank S. Runkles, 42, owner of Runkles' Sign Service in Westminster, said he has been talking to customers about Perot and getting a positive response.

"I'm only doing what I can do as a little independent business guy," he said. "Being a business owner, things aren't exactly up to par."

Perot knows what it's like to run a business, Runkles said. "He's more in touch with the working class.

"Perot is a long shot," Runkles admitted. "I'm giving him my vote, and I hope something changes."

Finksburg resident Jack Devlin is heading the effort to get Perot on the ballot in Maryland.

At the Perot Petition Committee headquarters in Annapolis, William Ozkaptan, executive assistant to the Maryland chairwoman, said 169 signatures had been collected in Carroll County as of a week ago. More have been sent in since and will be counted this week, he said.

Supporters are confident Perot will be on the ballot because they had collected 44,769 signatures as of last week, he said. They must collect 63,169, or 3 percent of the total number of registered voters in the state, by Aug. 3 to get Perot on the ballot, he said.

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