Editor's note: This article focuses on the eight Democrats in the primary in Baltimore County's 42nd District. Tomorrow's article will focus on the 11 Republican candidates.
Only a few brave Democrats were planning to run for the House of Delegates from the Towson area under the old legislative maps, which placed part of the region in a city-dominated district, and part in a district that stretched through the Republican strongholds of northern Baltimore County.
But when the Maryland Court of Appeals threw out the maps to create a district running from the city line to southern Timonium -- including three liberal Pikesville precincts -- the area became a level playing field for the parties. Now, eight Democrats are running.
One of them, James W. Campbell, 54, is an incumbent. Another, Stephen W. Lafferty, 53, lost a House contest in a smaller, single-member Towson district in 1994. No other contender has run for office.
The new 42nd District will have three delegates. The primary is Tuesday, and candidates say voters want to know how the legislature will deal with a deficit that could reach $1 billion in the 2004 state budget.
Art Buist, 50, said he will rely on the report of a budget task force convened by House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr.
Buist, a lawyer who lives in Towson, supports a referendum on racetrack slot machines, which he sees as a way to raise revenue and to preserve the state's horse-racing industry.
Buist, a former radio broadcaster, worked frequently as a political reporter and said he is familiar with the major players in Annapolis.
Campbell, a six-term House member, said he, too, would wait for the task force report.
He would prefer not to raise taxes, but won't rule it out. He is chairman of the House education subcommittee and is loath to cut money for schools. He also wants to maintain support for neighborhood programs.
Campbell, a social worker who lives in Ruxton, promotes his legislature seniority to voters. "If you have a problem, we can do more than talk about it," he said.
Edwin S. Crawford, 54, an investment banker with Ferris Baker Watts Inc. and veteran of various state commissions, was chairman of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's 1994 campaign. But he said he has broken with the governor on a number of issues, particularly state spending.
The Stoneleigh resident said the governor has paid for too many capital investments out of the operating budget rather than using long-term bonds.
He supports spending freezes, does not favor slot machines and believes that Maryland's income tax should be cut.
He would avoid big cuts. "The notion that you can cut 8 to 10 percent of the budget and not hurt anything is just ludicrous," he said.
At 28, Augustus Prescott Gaylord of Lutherville is the youngest Democrat in the race. Gaylord runs a software business that helps corporations manage their environmental, health and safety systems.
He said he is not familiar with budget details but suspects major changes are needed.
He said his occupation has made him accustomed to solving problems in complex systems, and that he would bring that kind of thinking to Annapolis.
John Holman, 52, an insurance agent from Towson, said he doesn't know the answer to the state budget problem. He doesn't favor slots and dislikes the idea of a tax increase, but said he doesn't know what should be cut.
He says his priority would be preserving programs that strengthen neighborhoods. "We ought to be able to take care of our basic needs and not go into debt," he said.
Matthew Joseph, 36, of Towson is on leave from his job at Advocates for Children and Youth, where he helps draft and lobby for legislation.
He said he played a major role in the Thornton Commission legislation, designed to increase public school funding statewide.
Joseph said that the commission plan needs to be fully funded in future budgets and that the state needs to address public safety and drug abuse problems. He would look to eliminate wasteful spending to help balance the budget.
Lafferty, a Stoneleigh resident, said the budget will have to be balanced by increasing revenue and cutting spending.
He says that he is uncomfortable with the idea of slot machines at racetracks but that he wouldn't rule them out.
He also supports an increase in the tobacco tax.
Lafferty works for the state in neighborhood revitalization, which he says would be his top priority if elected.
He also wants to improve education and expand services for senior citizens.
Leo Ryan, 43, a Towson lawyer, stresses the need for regionalism in government.
"I think it's vitally important that whoever represents this district be interested in a stronger Baltimore City," he said. "To me, everything else you talk about has to go through that filter."