12B race: More than just names


House of Delegates hopeful Elizabeth Bobo has greater name recognition than her two Democratic opponents in District 12B, but the former county executive is not underestimating them.

"I take both of the two candidates very seriously," said Ms. Bobo, one of three Democrats in the District 12B race. "I have a real good feeling about the campaign, but I'm not taking any chances."

Neither are her opponents, Ethel B. Hill and Rosemary E. S. Mortimer.

Ms. Hill, a Columbia attorney who entered law school at age 50, is knocking on doors, talking to voters and waving to commuters on their way to work in Baltimore and Washington.

"I see myself as the underdog," Ms. Hill said. "My strategy is to work hard and get my message across."

Ms. Mortimer, a nursing instructor from Columbia, said voters want a fresh perspective and that she has it.

"I think people are interested in someone new and committed," she said. "This district is ready for a change. They don't want politics as usual."

The winner of the Sept. 13 primary will face Republican Charles E. Scott in the Nov. 8 general election. The newly created District 12B includes west Columbia and part of Ellicott City.

Ms. Bobo, 50, has lived in Columbia for 28 years. She was county executive from 1986 to 1990 and a County Council member from 1978 to 1982.

After losing her re-election bid for county executive in 1990, she was appointed deputy secretary of the Department of Human Resources by the governor.

Ms. Bobo said she learned a lot from her loss to Republican County Executive Charles I. Ecker.

HTC "We didn't run a smart campaign," she said. "The Republicans ran a state-of-the-art campaign." While she focused exclusively on one-to-one campaigning, the Republicans used computers to poll and identify voters, she said.

This year, Ms. Bobo is concentrating on selected groups of voters and sending advance and follow-up notices to neighborhoods she visits.

"I'm working differently this time," Ms. Bobo said. "I learned the first time."

Since the start of her campaign, Ms. Bobo has raised $40,000. Ms. Hill has raised $25,000, and Ms. Mortimer $46,000, including $31,000 she lent to the campaign. Mr. Scott has raised about $4,600, including $1,000 gifts from himself and his father.

During Ms. Bobo's term as county executive, she developed local legislation to restrict building on steep slopes and in stream valleys. She also lobbied for passage of the state law that controls small, inexpensive handguns known as "Saturday Night Specials."

Gun control

"I'm a strong advocate on gun control because it can only help the situation," said Ms. Bobo who supports registration of handguns and a ban on assault weapons. "It's tough for someone to shoot someone when they don't have a gun."

Ms. Hill, 61, has lived in Columbia for 25 years. She received her law degree at age 54 after working as an elementary school teacher, social worker and manager at the Social Security Administration, where she was employed for 20 years.

Now she runs a solo practice focusing on cases involving child abuse and neglect. She has put that practice on hold for the


During the past 25 years, Ms. Hill has been active in local civic causes and activities.

In the 1970s, she took on leadership roles in the Wilde Lake village board and the Wilde Lake Middle School PTA. She served on the County Board of Appeals in the early 1980s. More recently, she founded and serves as president of the Columbia Chapter of Continental Societies Inc., a national service organization of black women that assists disadvantaged children.

She failed in bids for a seat on the county school board in 1978 and 1980. In 1982, she managed a campaign for William Manning, who was elected to the school board.

Ms. Hill's campaign will focus on public safety and economic development.

"Maryland has got to be more business-friendly," Ms. Hill said. "They've got to be encouraging to start-up businesses."

Ms. Hill would do that by giving tax breaks and technical help to small and minority-owned businesses. She also wants to establish job retraining programs for unemployed white collar workers who need new job skills and counseling.

Job retraining

"We've got put something in place for these people," Ms. Hill said. "These new unemployed not only need retraining, but support."

Ms. Mortimer, 43, has lived in Columbia for 11 years and has a long list of community service activities.

Named Howard County Education Volunteer of the Year in 1992, Ms. Mortimer was president of the county PTA Council and Clemens Crossing Elementary School PTA. She also served on the Adequate Public Facilities Commission, a group of county officials, educators, developers and civic activists who developed legislation to control growth in the county.

She is vice president for leadership with the Maryland Congress of Parents and Teachers, chairwoman of the school system's health council and a member of the county Compensation Review Commission. A registered nurse since 1973, she teaches labor and delivery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.

As a delegate, Ms. Mortimer said, she would favor giving state workers $500 bonuses for money-saving ideas.

She also wants to garnishee the wages of young parents who refuse to care for their offspring.

"You need to get them responsible somehow," she said. "Young men and women have to be responsible for their actions."

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