For all they have in common, it would seem the candidates for the 3rd District County Council seat would get along better than they do. But this has been one of the hardest-fought -- some would say nastiest -- campaigns for the council.
Republican incumbent Carl G. "Dutch" Holland has been critical of alleged zoning violations at his opponent's Pasadena salvage yard.
Thomas Redmond, the Democratic challenger, has belittled Mr. Holland's record, arguing that the capital projects the councilman claimed to have brought to his district were started under his Democratic predecessor, Edward C. "Buddy" Ahern.
The animosity spilled over three weeks ago when A. Shirley Murphy and Elmer Dunn Jr., Mr. Redmond's Democratic primary opponents, endorsed Mr. Holland.
In their announcements, they accused Mr. Redmond's campaign workers of damaging and pilfering their signs.
At a candidates forum before the Greater Pasadena Council last week, the candidates fought to be heard over their opponents' supporters. At the end, the candidates hardly glanced at each other and did not shake hands.
Both candidates have business backgrounds and describe themselves as fiscal conservatives. They tend toward the pragmatic middle rather than ideological extremes. Mr. Holland used to be a Democrat, and Mr. Redmond used to be a Republican.
But the similarities end there.
Mr. Holland has repeatedly accused Mr. Redmond of ducking debates and refusing to discuss the issues in the campaign.
When Mr. Redmond failed to show up at Jones Intercable studios for a televised debate Oct. 17, Mr. Holland faxed a release to reporters charging that "Mr. Redmond's campaign strategy has been to avoid the voters."
But Mr. Redmond has not been idle. This week, he released copies of Mr. Holland's county car telephone records that showed bills of nearly $3,000 over the past three years.
He charged that Mr. Holland had not reimbursed the county for personal use of the phone.
"That's wasting taxpayers money," Mr. Redmond said.
Mr. Holland admitted he used both his county car and phone for personal business, but added that Mr. Redmond should have checked his facts before going to the media. Soon after he was elected to the council, he had the county auditor set up a monthly deduction of $100 from his paycheck to pay for gas and the phone bill.
"I'm the only County Council person . . . who has money taken out of their check," Mr. Holland said.
At the same news conference at which Mr. Redmond released the car phone bills, Mary Rosso, chairwoman of Anne Arundel Voters for Environmental Justice and a Redmond supporter, assailed Mr. Holland's environmental record.
She criticized him for accepting contributions from developers and Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and Browning Ferris Industries, which she called "major polluters."
She also singled out more than $4,000 in contributions from companies she said were associated with Koch Associates Inc., a developer that is planning to build a 448-unit project on Schramm's Turkey Farm on Mountain Road. The project would add to traffic congestion along the Mountain Road corridor, she complained.
She also said Mr. Holland failed to acquire more open space in the district and opposed raising reforestation fees to developers.
Finally, she said, he did not support efforts last year to prevent the Hawkins Point medical waste incinerator, just over the Baltimore line, from taking in more material.
"I think he's a walking disaster for the area," Ms. Rosso said. "I see the whole peninsula changing in character because he hasn't taken any initiative."
Mr. Holland replied, "I consider my environmental record to be excellent."
The developers who contribute to his campaign are simply small business people who buy tickets to his Christmas party, he said.
The medical waste incinerator was in Baltimore's jurisdiction, not Anne Arundel's.
And he voted to keep reforestation fees at their current levels, instead of raising them, because the county hasn't spent the money it collected for reforestation.
The criticism from Ms. Rosso might seem surprising because she worked closely with Mr. Holland to draft and pass a law that regulates BGE's fly ash landfill near the Brandon Shores power plant on the Marley Neck peninsula.
"That is probably the most significant piece of environmental legislation for North County since the critical areas bill," Mr. Holland said.
Ms. Rosso said a watered-down bill was passed in spite of Mr. Holland's efforts, not because of them.
"It was difficult working with him on the ash bill," she said. "He did it because it was the right thing to do politically."