After losing a run for the state Senate four years ago, John Leopold wants to return to his old political stomping grounds representing District 31 in the House of Delegates.
But to do that, Mr. Leopold must place at least third in a race that includes three Democratic incumbents who won almost 70 percent of the vote in their primary and two younger Republicans.
Incumbents Joan Cadden, W. Ray Huff and C. Stokes Kolodziejski, who are expected to do well in this strongly Democratic district, will face off against Mr. Leopold and Republican candidates Doug Arnold, a 26-year-old employee of the Clerk of the Court, and Victoria Schade, 23, a legislative assistant in Annapolis.
In 1982, Mr. Leopold became the first Republican to win in District 31. He achieved name recognition by standing along county roads holding a large sign emblazoned with his name and waving to drivers and by visiting door to door with voters.
He no longer runs roadside campaigns, but he continues to pound on doors.
"The spine of my campaign has always been personal contact," said Mr. Leopold, who finished first in the Republican primary in September. "I always campaign like nobody's ever heard of my name."
Mr. Leopold considers his campaign for optional no-fault auto insurance "unfinished business" from his previous tour in the General Assembly.
He also wants to create tax-free savings accounts for parents to save for the children's college tuition. If the savings don't cover the tuition, the state would make up the difference at a state school.
Though Mr. Leopold is a strong candidate in this race, he or the other Republicans will have to break up the united front of Mrs. Cadden, Mr. Huff and Mr. Kolodziejski.
Mrs. Cadden, who led the ticket four years ago and again this year in the primary election with 30 percent of the vote, is a Brooklyn Park resident whose primary concern is improving education in the district.
In her first term she helped win construction funds for Solley and Park elementary schools, Andover Middle School and North County High School.
"My philosophy is education first. The top priority is the children," said Mrs. Cadden, 53. "I think I had a very successful first term."
Mrs. Cadden is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and for 18 years has operated Joan's Beauty Cellar in her home.
She said she wants to obtain funds for renovations and additions in Fort Smallwood and Jacobsville elementary schools and Brooklyn Park and Marley middle schools.
She also favors a biannual budget for the state and is considering seeking a building moratorium in Pasadena if rapid growth continues.
Mr. Huff calls himself a straightforward man whom some may not like initially. But the 59-year-old delegate said he's a conscientious lawmaker who does what he thinks is right for the people, not for re-election.
Mr. Huff, who is seeking a third term, pointed to his 1992 vote to increase taxes on cigarettes and gasoline. It was a choice of raising taxes or putting 10,000 state workers out of their jobs in the middle of recession, he said.
"It wasn't the political thing to do, but it was the right thing to do. We had already cut $1 billion from the governor's proposed budget," he said.
In the past term, Mr. Huff has helped get state money for the Fort Smallwood Road golf course and for Solley Elementary School.
He said his experience in the legislature will help District 31 in the General Assembly, where a large freshman class is expected.
His objectives are to work on welfare reform and government efficiency, he said.
Mr. Kolodziejski wants to create jobs throughout the state if he gets elected to a third term.
The 66-year-old member of the Economic Matters Committee worked to improve government efficiency in dealing with workers' compensation cases and legislation to impose stiffer penalties on those convicted of insurance fraud.
"What I'd like to see is that everybody in the state of Maryland who wants to work, has a job," Mr. Kolodziejski said, adding that he wants Maryland's business policies to be more competitive with other states.
He also said getting money for school construction and for widening Mountain Road and Fort Smallwood Road will be priorities during the next term.
Republican candidate Doug Arnold doesn't think there should be a next term for the incumbent delegates, arguing they have been prone to "pork barrel spending" while in office, and they have lost touch with their constituents.
"I don't believe that the current delegates are addressing the local issues and the issues for the state of Maryland," he said. "When we have children in this district attending classes in trailers but we have the Bowie Baysox playing in their stadium, I think that shows misplaced priorities," he added.
Mr. Arnold, president of the Mountain Road Kiwanis Club, said he supports an elected school board.
FTC Ms. Schade, who is running with Mr. Arnold, said they have pledged to work for the 24 percent income tax proposed by Ellen Sauerbrey, the GOP gubernatorial candidate.
This is Ms. Schade's first time running for an elected office, but she's no stranger to politics. She works as an aide to Dels. James F. Ports Jr. and Alfred W. Redmer Jr., Baltimore County Republicans, and she has worked as a volunteer in other campaigns.
In September, Ms. Schade was elected vice president of the Cedar Wood Cove community association.
She said she is most concerned about taxes, crime and education, saying she was inspired to run when she saw the General Assembly vote for tax increases in 1992.
"After the tax hike, I felt a real letdown," she said. "As a constituent, I feel real unhappy with the way our current leaders serve us."
After Baltimore County Judge Robert E. Cahill Sr., of the Baltimore County Circuit Court sentenced a Parkton truck driver to 18 months in jail for killing his wife, Ms. Schade said she would propose legislation to allow citizens to recall judges if elected.