Legislators' children remain unimpressed


After months of helping their father campaign for a seat in the House of Delegates, Joseph M. Getty's children got to experience a day in Annapolis for themselves.

Unlike their father and his fellow members of the Carroll County delegation, the five of them weren't exactly impressed with the handshakes, the back-slapping and speech-making that marked yesterday's opening of the 90-day legislative session.

"It was OK," said Delegate Getty's 12-year-old son, Justus, who had stood guard over his father's chair during the ceremony in which lawmakers took the oath of office outside the House chambers. "It's better than being in school. But I wouldn't want to come every day."

"They all helped with the campaign, so it was good to see what the process becomes," said Delegate Getty, a Republican from Manchester. "And they saw it could become long and boring."

In contrast, Carroll's new legislators said they were pleased with their largely ceremonial first day of work and the speeches that promised a new era of cooperation between legislators.

"It is not by accident that we are here together," said the new Speaker Pro Tem Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore. "We are here to learn together, to share together and to uplift the people of this state together."

Nancy R. Stocksdale, R-Westminster, agreed.

"I think the speaker pro tem was in tune with the times and the voters by saying we will be nonpartisan and work with the concerns of all people," Delegate Stocksdale said. "I'm very excited. It was a thrill to be here. I think we have a good group from Carroll County and I look forward to working with them as a team representing the constituents of Carroll County."

House Speaker Casper R. Taylor, an Allegany County Democrat, impressed the new legislators with his talk of government reform.

"The speaker sounded all the ideas that concern Carroll County voters," Delegate Getty said.

"Lobbyist reform is a major part of what I'll be working on. It's been pretty lively today. It's been a lot of fun to have my family here."

But, all the talk of good will and a new, improved Maryland couldn't keep the interest of the assembly's youngest guests.

"I laid down on the floor and slept," said Timmy Ferguson, 8, son of Sen. Timothy R. Ferguson.

Dressed in a light gray suit with a reddish boutonniere, Timmy looked like a smaller version of the Republican senator from Taylorsville as he sat on his father's lap and eagerly watched the ceremony.

However, when the votes for leadership positions wore on, Timmy found it more comfortable to curl up into a corner on the Senate floor.

"It was too long," he said later. "I was bored."

In some ways, Timmy's feelings mirrored his father's, who said the opening day started about the way he thought it would.

"It was very business-oriented, starting to get things going," said Senator Ferguson of taking his oath and starting the session. "It was OK. I didn't feel anything coming down from on high."

Meanwhile, Delegate Getty's daughters, in matching velvet dresses, amused themselves by drawing pictures for their father and applauding at the appropriate moments. The boys shot photos, occasionally covered a yawn and fanned their faces to dispel the heat.

"Laura liked the voting buttons," Delegate Getty said of his 5-year-old daughter. "She kept asking 'When can we vote again?' "

But what interested the children most was the phone at their father's seat on the House floor, said Delegate Getty's wife, Susan.

"They said 'Now when Dad has a vote to take, he can call Mom for her opinion and then vote,' " Mrs. Getty said with a laugh. "I'm impressed. I'm now the most important adviser to the delegate."

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