An Ellicott City resident seeking a seat in the House of Delegates says that she would keep the community better informed about changes in the law after every session of the General Assembly than do current representatives.
Teresa M. Rush, a Democrat competing in the District 14B race against seven other candidates, including two incumbents in newly drawn areas, says voters should get the chance to meet their public officials and learn about new changes when they occur.
"We need to have an active legislature," she said. "They need to come back out and educate the public. I'm not a professional politician. I'm doing this because we need to have more citizens have an active role in government decisions."
An Elkridge native who works as a senior settlement officer for a Columbia title company, Ms. Rush filed her candidacy on the last filing day, although she decided to run after she was laid-off by a different title company last spring.
"It was a personal thing that pushed me to take on public interest," she said.
"I got the time to take a look at the big picture, at what's occurring in the country and at the way we're spending our money. We need to put more into education, to take care of the children, to give them the books they need, the computers," she said.
Ms. Rush, 31, favors universal health care, increased spending for occupational safety and health inspection and more money for the education system -- even at the expense of a proposed new football stadium.
"Don't get me wrong," she said of the Orioles Park at Camden Yards. "I love the O's. But we have to sit back and look at our priorities. Do we want a nice stadium or education for our children?"
She opposes the idea of privatizing the public school system and contracting out state services that can be provided by state employees.
She also wants to lobby for the right-to-strike, except in public safety professions, and for collective bargaining for state employees.
Ms. Rush wants changes in the criminal system as well.
She believes that criminals should serve at least half of their sentences and earn some type of degree or learn a trade before they are eligible for parole.
And while she favors criminals learning a trade or getting a college education in jail, she believes they should pay for it when they leave.
She feels criminals should not be able to get an education for free.
"When they come out, they should have a financial obligation to the state, just like anyone who has to apply for school loans," she said.
She also wants low-income people who go through the criminal system to pay court costs or public defender fees by doing community service.
She believes in stiffening fines so that would-be offenders would think twice before they commit such non-violent crimes as marijuana possession and driving an uninsured car.
"We need to work on cleaning out the criminal system," she said.
Ms. Rush also favors the creation of laws enabling police to confiscate cars used during a second driving-while-intoxicated offense, or for transporting illegal guns. The cars would go to auction, and money from the auction would be used to pay for expanded drug, alcohol and domestic violence counseling.
Her opponents in the Democratic primary election are Richard Crabb; Bushrod Hopkins; Andrew Levy and Carolyn Willis.
If she wins, she will face one of the following Republicans in the general election: John Clark, Robert L. Flanagan or Robert H. Kittleman. The latter two candidates are incumbents.