Six months ago, Nancy Schrum was seeking an appointment to the county's school board. Today, she's running for the state Senate against the very man who recommended her for the position.
The 39-year-old Republican candidate from Baybrooke says education is the primary issue in the 31st District, which includes Rivera Beach, Brooklyn Park and Pasadena.
She said her opponent, Democratic incumbent Philip C. Jimeno, has been soft on crime and that he has been in government too long.
"I think Phil Jimeno needs to retire," Mrs. Schrum said. "I'm disappointed, and I say that not as a candidate but as a voter. We need a stronger voice for District 31."
But Mr. Jimeno, 47, said that Mrs. Schrum "has not been involved in a wide range of issues."
"I have a whole wide variety of leadership," he said.
After 16 years in the legislature, he said he has gained the knowledge and experience needed to steer Maryland through inevitable fiscal changes, and still bring home money for District 31.
Mrs. Schrum worked for 12 years as a logistics specialist at Westinghouse, but left the position after she had children. She is in her second year as the PTA president for Bodkin Elementary School and also is a part-time business manager at Gibson Island Country School.
Mrs. Schrum was chosen overwhelmingly in May for a position on the board by the county School Board Nominating Convention. Mr. Jimeno wrote a letter to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, endorsing her. But the governor appointed Thomas E. Florestano to the board after County Executive Robert R. Neall recommended him for the job.
After prodding by Republican friends, including County Councilman Carl G. 'Dutch" Holland, Mrs. Schrum filed to run for the Senate just a few hours before the August deadline, nudging another Republican, Joseph "Jack" Feehley, off the "Four for 94" slate for the State House.
The first-time candidate said she is running "for my children and for everyone in the district."
"I will take a hard stand on some very tough positions, from crime to education," she said. "I won't be just warming a seat, I'll be involved in it all."
Mrs. Schrum said her work with the PTA shows her strength at coalition building, an asset she feels can help her in the legislature.
She supports mandatory sentencing and eliminating parole for those convicted of violent crimes, adding that she will fight for money to build a new jail if the County Council approves a site, but that she is opposed to the Ordinance Road site.
Mrs. Schrum added that she will not be controlled by special interest groups because she has not accepted money from political action committees in her campaign, unlike her opponent.
"The biggest difference between Mr. Jimeno and I is leadership and integrity," Mrs. Schrum said.
Mr. Jimeno begs to differ.
He says the differences between the two as candidates lie in experience. Mr. Jimeno is seeking his fifth term in public office, his third as state senator.
"Whoever is elected governor, we're going to have a scaled-down government," he said. "The bottom line is to fund the parks, roads, schools, etc. You need somebody with experience to lead us through those tough times."
Constituent service is a priority, the West Virginia native said, adding that he has an open-door policy at his Mountain Road insurance office. "They're in and out of here all the time," he said. "I think I'm really in touch and in tune with my constituents."
In the past term, Mr. Jimeno, who chairs the county delegation, said he has accomplished a lot with the help of his fellow lawmakers.
He points to money to build a new Solley Elementary School, adding that the delegation brought back an additional $880,000 to renovate Andover Middle School.
Other victories include $700,000 for a golf course to be developed on Fort Smallwood Road, $1.3 million in state money for the Lakeshore Athletic Center, fighting a proposal to build the new jail on the old Schramm's Turkey Farm and at Ordinance Road, and some dredging and road construction projects.
"I've never really lost the enthusiasm for the job," said Mr. Jimeno, a Brooklyn Park resident of 25 years.
Mr. Jimeno said he has also been a leader in sponsoring legislation that imposes harsher penalties on child abusers and drunken drivers.
He said he has never sought greater leadership positions in the General Assembly, but the large turnover that is expected in the Senate in the next session will open opportunities for him.