The 8th Legislative District race for three seats in the House of Delegates features a crowded field, with several political novices and one incumbent, Republican Alfred W. Redmer Jr., the House minority leader.
The hopefuls range from a 22-year-old recent college graduate to a 67-year-old bank manager. There's a county firefighter who used to collect coins with a metal detector and a courier who summed up his platform: "pro-life, pro-casino."
Redmer, who has held his seat for three terms, chose Republicans Mike Rupp, and M. Norma Lane as his running mates in the district which includes White Marsh, Perry Hall, Overlea and Rosedale.
"Our common denominator is that we are all people who entered into public service before ever considering running for office," said Redmer, a 46-year-old insurance, stock and employee benefits broker. .
Redmer and his running mates say that in addition to dealing with the state budget deficit, the main issue for the district is community stabilization.
Rupp is a 40-year-old firefighter assigned to Parkville and a longtime member and past president of the Carney Improvement Association. In his first foray into politics, Rupp says he favors a state freeze on hiring and a halt to some projects while cutting taxes and offering incentives for businesses to move to Maryland.
Lane, a 67-year-old bank manager from Perry Hall, has a long history of working with business associations. She said education is the No. 1 issue facing the district and the state.
Joseph C. Boteler III, 53, who owns a printing company, is making his third bid for this seat, losing in the 1994 Republican primary and the 1998 general election. Boteler, a Carney resident, supports reducing the size of state government drastically by cutting taxes, but he said improving transportation remains a priority.
Mark Joseph Austra-Jaskulski, who graduated from Syracuse University in May, is running for the first time. The son of two pharmacists, Austra-Jaskulski, who lives in White Marsh, said his main goal would be to offer a state prescription plan for seniors.
In the Democratic primary, Eric Bromwell, son of former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, Tim Caslin, a retired county police officer, and Todd L. Schuler, a law clerk in Peter G. Angelos' firm, have formed a ticket called the "New 8th District Democratic team."
The three say education, health care and public safety are the most important issues. They said teacher pensions and salaries need to be improved, more police officers need to be hired in the district, especially in White Marsh, and the state needs to offer a prescription drug plan that would benefit everyone, especially seniors.
Schuler is a 25-year-old law clerk who just graduated from Tulane University's School of Law and lives in Overlea. One of his high school pals is now one of his running mates -- Bromwell, a 25-year-old government relations coordinator for Comcast, who lives in Parkville.
Caslin, 51, of Carney, completes the ticket. He retired as a lieutenant in the county Police Department after 31 years on the force and after serving for eight years as president of the county Fraternal Order of Police.
It is also a first-time run for Joseph Michael Ruscito Jr., a 40-year-old who coordinates fiber installations for Verizon. He lives in Rosedale. Ruscito said one of his main goals would be improving communications with constituents.
Andy Peet, a 42-year-old management consultant for a credit-rating company, says education and health care are the No. 1 priorities facing district voters. He said up to 10 percent of the state budget deficit could be eliminated by cutting wasteful programs.
Ruth Baisden, a longtime community activist from Parkville, is making her first run for office after spearheading local projects from the Harford Road Streetscape to improved notification of zoning changes. Baisden, 40, said, "You don't have to raise taxes all the time. .... We need policy changes at the state level."
Among those without any campaign money or endorsements is Walter Thomas Kuebler, a 53-year-old courier from Parkville who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1998 and 2000. "The Catholic church became the institution it is on bingo and children. I think the state can benefit from those same values. ... If there are social costs involved, the people going to out-of-state slots are already bringing them back to Maryland," Kuebler said.