The president of the Howard County Republican Club says he's running for one of the two House of Delegates seats in District 13A.
Scaggsville resident Michael Grasso, 33, who operates his own software engineering business and teaches computer science at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, plans to kick off his campaign for the November 1994 election at 7:30 p.m. July 20 at the Heatherfield Club House in Columbia.
Mr. Grasso says he is concerned about state budget and taxation issues, citing a growth in spending that outpaced the rate of inflation in the late 1980s.
"The state needs to spend its tax dollars more wisely and live within its means," he says.
He says he would advocate an ethics bill that would help limit developers' influence on zoning decisions in the county, adding that he has fought a proposed mixed-use zoning category that would allow homes, apartments and offices in the same district.
Mr. Grasso lives near the 820-acre site near Route 29 in Fulton that is one of the largest proposed mixed-use centers currently being considered by the county Zoning Board.
Mr. Grasso says he was disappointed that an ethics bill sponsored by the county's General Assembly delegation died on the House floor during this year's legislative session. The bill would have required developers, property owners or anyone with a 5 percent interest in a rezoning request to disclose contributions of more than $500 made to any Howard County official over four years.
"Council members, sitting as the Zoning Board, convey great financial rewards on an applicant when they increase the density of land," he says.
"Those of us who live in surrounding neighborhoods are left with overcrowded schools and gridlock on our roads. We need a mechanism that helps assure that zoning decisions are fair and unbiased."
Mr. Grasso has been a member of the Howard County Republican Club for four years, serving as president for the past year. He was treasurer for Howard Republican Del. John S. Morgan in the 1990 election. He also is a member of the Howard County Board of Health.
His business, Segue Corp., conducts research and development for the National Institutes of Health.
District 13A, which includes Clarksville, the eastern part of Columbia, Highland, Fulton, Hammond Branch, Savage and Jessup, was redrawn for the 1994 election and will have two delegates, rather than one as in the past.
Two incumbents, Republican Martin G. Madden and Democrat Virginia M. Thomas, reside in the district, but have not declared their intentions.
Ms. Thomas says she is planning to run either for the Maryland Senate or county executive, or retain her delegate seat.
"I'm definitely going to run again for political office," she says. "I feel I've accomplished a lot and want to continue to work in this area. It's a matter of where I can best serve the people."
Mr. Madden says he plans to "do what I was elected to do" and serve the fourth year of his term in 1994 before deciding on his political future.
He says he's also waiting for the courts to decide an appeal of the state's redistricting plan, which could affect District 13A.
"I'll worry about things in the spring," he said. "To me, it's very premature."
Democrat Pearline Atkinson-Stewart, a Columbia resident who has worked as an administrative assistant in the county's public works department for 17 years, has announced that she will run for a District 13A seat.
She is a member of the county Democratic Central Committee and a former vice chairwoman of the Columbia Council.