Eight candidates from each party in 7th District primary


With only one incumbent running for re-election, the new 7th Legislative District embracing parts of Baltimore and Harford counties has drawn a crowded field of candidates for its three House of Delegates seats.

Eight Democrats and eight Republicans are seeking the right to run in the Nov. 5 general election. The primary is Tuesday.

The district includes a diverse list of communities, with 75 percent of it within Baltimore County, stretching from Essex on the east to Cockeysville, then northeasterly to rural and suburban areas south of Bel Air in Harford.

Many of the candidates mentioned the district's diverse makeup when discussing their views on the issues.

The only incumbent is Democrat Nancy Hubers, 71, of Bowleys Quarters, who is finishing her first term as a delegate. She was elected in 1998 from what was then the 6th District.

She said she wants to raise educational standards, to help the uninsured get medical coverage and pay for prescription drugs, to increase public safety and to address development problems.

The other seven Democratic candidates include:

Brian D. Bennett, 40, of Kingsville, a trial lawyer. Bennett said the issues are traditional ones, such as crime and education, but overhauling the prison system is one of his goals.

Jeffrey R. Butschky, 35, of Baldwin, a lawyer who says he was "disgusted" by the raise that legislators were granted last year. He said residents have common concerns, such as public safety, education and the environment.

Randy Cogar, 56, of Middle River, who owns a printing firm and has served on the county's Democratic Central Committee for 16 years. Education and economic growth are major issues in the district, he said.

Donna M. Felling, 52, of Glen Arm, a nurse and former delegate who represented the 8th District. She said she is interested in health care issues and wants to ease the cost of prescription drugs.

Norman H. Gifford Jr., 35, of Chase, an emergency communications operator for the state, who said that despite the diverse district, issues such as education, public safety and health care affect all residents and need to be addressed.

Geoffrey William Holland, 52, of Middle River, who teaches ninth-grade government and economics at Dundalk High School. He said there are many issues such as safety and education, but that diverse communities should get funds from the state and determine their needs.

Roger Zajdel, 58, of Middle River, owner of Commodore Hall, a catering business and bar, who decided to run for office because he opposed Senate Bill 509, a condemnation plan that was defeated in a referendum. He said that property rights, health care and over-development are issues that concern residents.

On the Republican side, candidates include:

Jackie F. Bailey, 57, of Glen Arm, a registered nurse. She said the environment on the east side of Baltimore County, education and growth in Harford County and economic growth in northern Baltimore County are major issues.

Michael J. Davis, 63, of Essex, an industrial contractor, who served on the GOP Central Committee for eight years and has run for the House of Delegates before. He would help farmers, work to get Back River dredged and cut down on crowded schools, particularly in Harford County.

Sheryl L. Davis-Kohl of Abingdon, Rick Impallaria of Middle River and Dilip B. Paliath of Cockeysville, who have formed a slate to run for the House seats.

All three said it is time for a change in the criminal justice system, the public education system and how business is conducted in Annapolis. Davis-Kohl, 40, owns a small business in Harford and served for four years on the county's GOP Central Committee. She also ran for the House in 1998 from the 34th District.

Impallaria, 39, who owns a small business in Middle River, was chairman of the Citizens for Property Rights that helped defeat Senate Bill 509. He said too many regulations exist for small business owners, who are the backbone of the state.

Paliath, 31, an assistant state's attorney in Baltimore County, has never run for office. He wants to help change the state's criminal justice system because, he says, it has too many flaws.

J.B. Jennings, 28, of Phoenix, owner of a small business, who worked for Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who is running for governor, for 2 1/2 years. He said key issues include school crowding and over-development.

Pat McDonough, 58, of Middlesex, a radio talk show host and president of a nonprofit organization to help youth. He was elected to the House of Delegates in 1978 as a Democrat. He changed parties in 1986, then worked for former Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden. McDonough said legislators should have a sense of urgency about resolving public safety issues like crime and drug use.

Christopher D. Saffer, 23, of Middle River, financial director for his family's plumbing business, who says it is critical to control crime that is spreading into all areas of the 7th District. He said delegates should work to curb drug use and pass laws that would require mandatory sentences for criminals.

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