Anne Arundel County's 7th Councilmanic District - a long area that stretches from Crofton to Tracy's Landing - has a mix of residents, from office workers with suburban homes to farmers whose families have worked the same loamy soil for more than a century.
Candidates in the district's Sept. 10 Democratic and Republican primaries represent that diversity well. They include a South County native who still does business with family friends, a suburban insurance salesman, a retired astrophysicist, a dedicated community volunteer, and a former county parks and recreation director.
Three Democrats and two Republicans are seeking spots on the fall ballot and the chance to succeed Republican Councilman John J. Klocko III, a Crofton lawyer and property manager who has served two terms as the District 7 representative. He cannot seek a third term because of term limits and is the only council member not seeking re-election.
Klocko has been criticized by some residents who believe he focuses too much on Crofton. Those seeking to succeed him have promised to leave no community behind. Most campaign platforms focus on keeping South County rural, or at least green.
Democrat Peter M. Perry, 60, a retired astrophysicist and Harwood tree farmer, has blamed the county for "dropping the ball" during talks with Safeway officials who wanted to build a store in Deale. He said he and other residents persuaded the nationwide chain to go with a smaller store, but "the county vacillated."
"If I can do the same work that I did as a civic activist or troublemaker in public office, then that is what I will do," said Perry, who as chairman of the South County Coalition has worked with South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development to preserve land near Jug Bay. "There has to be a proper balance between the county's business and environmental goals."
Perry has been endorsed by Democratic Del. Virginia P. Clagett, who served on the County Council for 20 years.
William A. Rinehart, 64, a Democrat who spent his entire career with the county's Recreation and Parks Department - rising from athletic supervisor to director under former County Executive Robert R. Neall - said he would work to continue land preservation efforts.
"We all want to see the quality of life remain the same," said Rinehart, a Lothian native who lives in Harwood, next door to the house where he was born. Rinehart, a member of the antebellum Old South Country Club, has drawn criticism from Perry for accepting campaign contributions from developers, including Hopkins & Wayson Construction.
Rinehart said he is "proud" of such contributions, partly because he has known the givers since he was a child. Other contributors include the wife of Owings Mills developer Edward A. St. John and Koch Realty Inc. of Annapolis.
"I worked for Hopkins & Wayson when I was a kid," said Rinehart, who also knew County Executive Janet S. Owens, another Lothian native, when he was a child.
Democratic candidate Patricia O'Brien Boarman, 68, who has run in every 7th District race since 1978, said she would continue to use her knowledge of federal, state and local government to protect land from overdevelopment. She was such a regular at council meetings under former County Executive O. James Lighthizer that officials proclaimed Jan. 21 "Pat O'Brien Day." Boarman is the name of the candidate's second husband.
"I am the only qualified and experienced candidate," she said, referring to community projects she has carried out with the help of government agencies and officials. Recently, she and other South County residents have lobbied the federal government to rebuild an old jetty and build a second jetty in Rockhold Creek, she said.
On the Republican side, candidate David Wayson, 59, grew up at the southern tip of the district, in Jewell. He said his background as a native who lives on a working farm and runs an insurance business will help him bridge the gap between new and longtime residents, especially in the areas being developed.
"We don't want 54 homes with a big entrance and a sign that says 'Sunshine Hills,'" said Wayson, who like Perry supported the idea of a smaller Safeway in Deale. "To me, that is exclusionary, and that is not what we need in South County."
Crofton resident Edward R. Reilly, 52, who faces Wayson in the GOP primary, is also an insurance-business owner, but he is an agent for Nationwide while Wayson is with State Farm. Reilly has said that he sees serving in public office as a "natural extension" of the community services in which he has been involved over the years, including church and school activities.
Reilly talks about redevelopment as a way to preserve open space.
"We need to take underutilized and abandoned properties and put them back to work," he said. "Across the county, there are many pockets of land that can be looked at."