|12/30-Looking Ahead to the
|It’s hard to
believe 2010 is over. This was a great year for me on a personal level.
First, my daughter Emily was born on Feb. 1 and I received the
opportunity to write my own column on March 4.
When I look back at the year, the first news event I remember is the
2010 Election. There was the excitement of the Joe Bartenfelder/Kevin
Kamenetz race for County Executive. In Dundalk, there was the
controversy of the debate between Jordan Hadfield & Todd Crandell
and the Forward Together team. Both parties couldn’t agree on the
format of the debate and it never happened. In the Perry Hall area,
there was the controversy of County Council candidate Bill Paulshock’s
residence. He lives in Kingsville, but filed under his business address
to run in the 5th District race. The elections were a lot of fun and
like I wrote in my Nov. 11 column, let’s do this again in two years,
but we’ll have to wait until four.
Another story I’ll remember is finding out that Bill Bocklage is the
man behind the American flag on the Back River Bridge in Essex. I was
wondering who took care of the flag and Mr. Blockage wrote a letter
describing his experiences on the bridge in April.
There were many other great people I met in eastern Baltimore County.
At Geresbeck’s, there is 15-year employee Henry Creasy, who works with
the shopping carts. Dundalk resident Charlene Osborne was another great
person I wrote about this year. She wrote a book about being voted
Baltimore’s Best Hon in 2009. I also met 81-year-old Bernard Zaworski,
who is still swimming in the Maryland Senior Olympics. The Dundalk
resident won two silver medals.
In May, I got to be a part of Ivy Hall as they celebrated their 25th
year anniversary. The main event was the digging up of an old time
capsule. Unfortunately, the time capsule didn’t survive 25 years of bad
weather, but the highlight of the day was meeting the original owner
and talking to the nurses who have been at Ivy Hall for the full 25
There were many other great stories and people in 2010 and I look
forward to meeting and hearing more great stories in 2011. Happy New
12/23-Wishing My Readers a
writing this column 10 months ago and I’m honored and humbled every
time someone reads my column. I try to keep this column with a local
angle. There are columnists that write about everyday life and
situations, but I try to bring a local twist. I could write a universal
column that readers outside the area could relate to, but my goal is to
make the column relatable for only the residents of eastern Baltimore
County. I love writing about the local schools, politicians and train
gardens because those personal stories can rarely be found in the
Baltimore Sun or the local TV/radio stations. The citywide media has to
cover all of Baltimore City, County and the other surrounding counties.
What makes the East County Times so successful is that we focus on the
citizens in our community and I strive for that same approach with this
I want to thank readers like Joe of Rosedale, who is only 23. I met him
at a wedding and he told me he enjoyed reading my column during the
election. It’s great to see our youth with an interest in politics.
Another loyal reader is Kathy of Essex. Kathy was the first reader to
e-mail me when the column started. She still sends me information and
keeps me on my toes.
Another reader is Kristen of Perry Hall. She is the teacher of a
program that my son attends on the weekend. We love to chat about
politics and our community news before class.
I’m sure there are many more readers out there, at least I hope so. For
a while, I thought only my mom read the column.
Seriously, I feel very honored when someone tells me they are a reader.
I want to thank you and wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
Four Teachers Receive National Board
Congratulations to four local teachers as they
have achieved National Board Certification. This list included:
* Robin Acton, mathematics/adolescence and young adulthood, Perry Hall
* Sharon Brown, generalist/middle childhood, Oliver Beach Elementary
* Jane Dulin, English language arts/adolescence and young adulthood,
Dundalk High School
* Rachel Lilley, mathematics/adolescence and young adulthood, Perry
Hall High School
According to a press release from Baltimore County Public Schools,
these teachers meet rigorous standards through intensive study, expert
evaluation, self-assessment and peer review. They are in a class of
91,000 teachers that have achieved National Board Certification since
Patapsco Graduate Stars in Salisbury Play
When a student graduates from high school, we
usually don’t get too much information on their accomplishments at
college, but Salisbury University sent over information about a former
Christine Stone, a Patapsco graduate of 2007, recently starred in the
musical workshop production of ‘Rent ‘ at Salisbury University in
November. She is a senior majoring in English and the daughter of Mike
and Sandy Stone.
|12/16-Counting Down the
Live Nativity at Chase Church
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the different
train gardens in the area for the holiday season. On Monday, I was
notified about another family-fun event in the area. Christian
Fellowship Church of God in Chase invites you to see their live
nativity scene with animals on Wednesday, Dec. 22 & Thursday, Dec.
23 from 7 - 9 p.m. at their church on 12723 Eastern Ave. This is not
the first time the church has displayed a live nativity, but this is
the first one in a few years. Paul White, an assistant with the church,
said the event is to remind and educate everyone that Jesus in the
reason for Christmas, after White met a girl a few years back who
didn’t know who Jesus was.
“We decided to do this again because the community likes this. They
love to stop by and this is an outreach to the community. They are
reminded of the real meaning of Christmas,” White said.
The event is free and families are invited inside for cookies and hot
It’s Still Better to Give Than to Receive
The old saying “it is better to give than
receive” definitely applies during the holiday season. This is the time
of the year where our society gives to those who are less fortunate.
Here at the East County Times, we sponsored a little 7-year-old girl
through the Chesapeake Gateway Chamber of Commerce with many gifts, and
she should be a happy camper when she receives these gifts on Christmas
Day. It’s not too late to donate to a national, state or local
organization. We get notices all the time of the local charities that
need help and here is a list of just the ones that contacted us. I’m
sure there are many more great services throughout the area that need a
helping hand this season.
Non-Perishable Food Drive
Ladies Auxiliary of Charles Evering Post #6506,
8777 Philadelphia Road, will be collecting non-perishable food items to
benefit St. Clements Food Bank through Dec. 18.
Clothing and Toy Drive
The Essex Middle River Chase Lions Club is
partnering with the East County Times, 1st Mariner Bank at Carroll
Island and the new Lighthouse Cafe in Essex to collect new toys, adult
and children’s clothing as well as hats, gloves and mittens for
Christmas. The items are to be distributed to the homeless shelter at
Franklin Square as well as local needy families. Any donations are
greatly appreciated. For more information, call Lion Paul Rufe at
Food and Toy Drive
The Hawthorne Civic Association, the
Hawthorne Elementary School and St. Peter Evangelical Church of
Eastpoint are combining efforts to provide five needy families with
food baskets and gifts this Christmas. For more information, call
410-686-9270 or using the “Contact Us” link on the HCA website at
Perry Hall Elementary Collecting
The Student Council at Perry Hall Elementary
School will be collecting gently used children’s books through Friday,
Dec. 17 to support the Trudy and Joe Book Swap Foundation. This
foundation works to provide books for underprivileged children ages 4-
14. The school is located at 9021 Belair Road in Perry Hall.
questions, comments and complaints
Kevin Kamenetz became the 12th Baltimore County Executive. Before we
look ahead to Kamenetz, let’s take a look back at now former County
Executive Jim Smith’s legacy, at least here in eastern Baltimore County.
In the Dundalk/Essex area, Smith proclaimed himself as the “Renaissance
Man” by rebuilding the Essex, Middle River and Dundalk areas.
Crime-ridden areas like Dundalk’s Yorkway Apartments and Essex’s
Village of Tall Trees Apartments were destroyed and replaced with the
new Heritage Square in Dundalk and the new Renaissance Square in Essex.
A number of parks were also constructed and old parks received upgrades
during Smith’s tenure.
Eastern Baltimore County has seen changes over
the past eight years with redevelopment, and many believe the
revitalization of the troubled neighborhoods is the main reason why
crime is near all-time lows.
Of course, critics of Smith’s redevelopment plans wonder if there was
too much development. The most obvious criticism of Smith comes from
the Perry Hall/White Marsh area where the increase of houses and
population didn’t transfer
over to the building of more schools. The building of another high
school was one of the main topics during the past election. Smith never
felt a new high school was a necessity for the area. Some of that
criticism has boiled over to the County emergency services. Back in the
‘90s, northeast Baltimore County was considered a rural region that
only needed one police station and firehouse. With the population
explosion, it’s gotten difficult for Police Precinct 9 and Fire Station
55 to cover from Kingsville to the city line and some feel Smith never
addressed that issue too.
On the other hand, Smith will be remembered in these parts as a very
proactive County Executive during tough times. He was in the area right
after Tropical Storm Isabel hit the east side and was down in Dundalk
after the collapse of a roof at the firehouse during the famous Double
Blizzard of 2010.
On the fiscal side, Smith was successful in balancing the budget. Yes,
the County might be in trouble today, but Smith was praised for having
surpluses with the previous county budgets. Although, Republicans
wished he would have given out tax cuts.
While Smith never raised taxes, he angered a lot of Republicans as they
felt Smith promoted the agenda of Gov. Martin O’Malley and helped him
get elected twice. He also funded other Democratic candidates in
Baltimore County. In addition, many Republicans felt slighted as Smith
thanked Democrats for their hard work during ribbon-cuttings, but
rarely acknowledged or let the Republicans speak at the event. The
local GOP never considered Smith a bi-partisan politician.
As a reporter, I enjoyed covering Jim Smith, as he was a great quote
machine with a lot of enthusiasm. But there were times he went
overboard with his excitement. “Today is a beautiful day,” or “Today is
a great day in Baltimore County” were some his famous and oft-repeated
quotes during the ribbon cuttings. But isn’t that all politicians?
The phone number for James Lanahan and Donald
Thompson’s train garden in Perry Hall was incorrect. The correct number
I apologize for the error.
questions, comments and complaints
|12/2-All Aboard the Local
|Ever since I
was a kid, I loved train gardens. My parents and grandparents always
put up a train garden for my brother and I every Christmas. The
tradition continues, as my three-year-old son has been a big fan of
trains since birth.
For us train buffs, there are many great train gardens across the
region but as a local guy, I want to visit all the train gardens in
eastern Baltimore County.
Obviously, I grew up with the Wise Avenue
Volunteer Fire Company Train Garden on 214 Wise Ave. in Dundalk.
That garden opened last weekend for its 30th season and runs through
Jan. 9, but is closed on Christmas Day. There is an admission fee of $1
and children under 7 are free. Weekday hours are from 6 - 9 p.m. and
Saturday & Sunday hours are from noon - 9 p.m. For more
information, call 410-288-0710.
Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical
Staying in Dundalk, I discovered the
Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society train garden a few years ago.
It’s located at the Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society Museum at
4 Center Place in Old Dundalk. Admission is free and the garden is open
daily from noon - 8 p.m. starting Dec. 4 until Jan. 9. The garden is
open from noon to 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and closed on Christmas Day.
For more info., call 410-284-2331.
Then I got a call out to an in-home train garden
in Perry Hall. Don Thompson and Jim Lanahan have a train garden in the
basement of their Perry Hall home. At first, it was a little unusual
walking into their house with the kids and going down to their
basement, but Mr. Lanahan was a friendly tour guide. They said it was
close to the size of Wise Avenue’s train garden and they might be
right. The garden was huge and covered the whole basement. Their garden
is open until
Jan. 2, from 6 - 8 p.m. during the week and on Saturday &
Sundays from 1 - 8 p.m. Since the garden area has a limit in space,
Thompson and Lanahan request visitors call for reservations and
directions at 410-529-1457.
Are There More?
But is that it? I thought for sure there were
other public train gardens in either Rosedale, Middle River, Edgemere
or around White Marsh, but I can’t find one. I went to a great website
called “Grandpa’s Holiday Train Garden Page for 2010” at www.wvmgrs.org/TrainGardens.htm
and it has a list of the train gardens in Maryland, but didn’t mention
any other ones in eastern Baltimore County. This presents a challenge
to our readers. Am I missing an obvious train garden in eastern
Baltimore County? Or maybe there is a top-secret train garden that only
a few know about? Either way, if you know of one, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dundalk Hon on TV
It was too late to get this in the paper, but
Dundalk resident Charlene Osborne, voted Bawlmer’s Best Hon in 2009,
will be making an appearance on WBAL-TV Channel 11 on Saturday, Dec. 4
at 9:15. Osborne will be interviewed about her book “My year as
BALTIMORE’S BEST HON.”
|11/24-CCBC and BCPS Join
Forces for New Program
Thanksgiving Week, not too much is going on in the area, but I did hear
that the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) and Baltimore
County Public Schools (BCPS) are joining forces to create a dual degree
program called “Diploma to Degree.” The program provides an opportunity
for high school students to earn an associate of arts degree while
pursuing their high school diploma.
“The program, believed to be the first of its kind in Maryland, will
allow qualified students to earn the associate degree in general
studies at CCBC. Beginning in the summer of 2011, it will start as a
pilot program with initial costs to be borne by CCBC. Students will be
selected for the program next spring after applications are reviewed by
the school system and CCBC. The program was developed by BCPS and CCBC
educators who identified courses aligned to meet the requirements of an
associate of arts degree. Students taking courses for the Diploma to
Degree program will earn course grades and credits from both BCPS and
CCBC,” a BCPS representative said in a released statement.
This announcement isn’t a shocker as BCPS Superintendent Dr. Joe A.
Hairston and CCBC President Dr. Sandra L. Kurtinitis have always had a
great working relationship within the two systems. The only question I
have is why wasn’t this done sooner? Sure both school systems have
their flaws like every system in the country, but many consider BCPS
and CCBC one of the top public school/community college systems in the
state. Both have an amazing infrastructure and CCBC has the appearance
of a mini-school system with three main campus all over the county.
Some even say that CCBC is an unofficial extension of BCPS after Grade
12. The only difference, of course, is that students at CCBC still have
to pay tuition while BCPS is a free public service.
Former Back River Rec Star Going to West
Last week I wrote an article on Kenwood High
baseball star Shane Campbell who received an athletic scholarship to
the University of Maryland. Campbell wasn’t the only local athlete to
receive a scholarship as Akilah Bethel will play major Division I
Women’s College Basketball at West Virginia University. Actually,
Bethel is from Randallstown and played her high school basketball in
the suburbs of Washington D.C., but played rec basketball for the Back
River Rec. Council in Essex.
|11/18-Looking Ahead to
sick of politics and this column will return to focusing on other
issues in eastern Baltimore County, but I thought I’d write one last
column to wrap-up this political season.
With the 2010 Elections behind us, we look ahead to 2014. Can the
Republicans find a candidate to challenge County Executive-Elect Kevin
Kamenetz? Will Joe Bartenfelder return to politics? Have we seen the
last of newcomers Ryan Nawrocki, Mike Ertel, Rani Merryman, Jordan
Hadfield and Todd Crandell? Before we answer those questions, we need
to look ahead to 2012.
Many readers wanted to know why more established Republican candidates
didn’t challenge Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger and Senator Barbara
Mulaski in 2010? With this being a strong Democratic state, it’s
believed many Republicans didn’t want to take that chance and lose
their state seats. With 2012 being an off-election year for state
candidates, some Republicans may venture into the Congressional and
U.S. Senate races. Here are some races to watch in 2012:
1st Congressional District
With Democrat Frank Kratovil winning in ’08 and
Republican Andy Harris winning in ’10, this district could stay
competitive for both Democrats and Republicans. With ’12 being an off
year, could a powerful Maryland Democratic Legislator in this District
(ie. Eric Bromwell or Kathy Klausmeier) be interested to going after
this seat? How about County Executive Jim Smith? His term is over in
December and he currently lives in the 1st District. He has name
recognition and funds, but would he be interested in challenging Harris?
2nd Congressional District
Republicans say 2012 will be the year they take
a serious shot at Ruppersberger’s seat. I still haven’t heard any
official name, but a few Republicans told me that a serious candidate
will challenge the five-term Congressman. Three names that come to mind
are the trio of Republicans in the State’s 7th Legislative District
(Pat McDonough, Rick Impallaria or J.B. Jennings), but we will have to
wait and see.
Predicting Harris’ and Rupperberger’s
challengers might be irrelevant because there will be some type of
redistricting in both the Congressional and State districts. The
question is how severe will the redistricting become? That’s a debate
for another day, but even a little change could cause some controversy.
Andy Harris lives in Cockeysville (located in the 1st Congressional
District) and Dutch Ruppersberger lives a few miles down the road in
Timonium (2nd Congressional District). If any slight redistricting
takes place, both Congressmen could be locked into the same district
After he decided not to run for Baltimore County
Executive, Republican Pat McDonough told me he could challenge Senator
Ben Cardin in 2012. This would be the perfect opportunity for McDonough
as he could return to his House of Delegate seat if he were to lose to
Cardin. He wouldn’t have had that luxury if he lost the County
Executive race this year. McDonough has name recognition with his
TV/radio shows and should be able to raise enough funds to compete with
|11/11-Let’s Do This Again in
Two Years, Not Four
season was fun and exciting, but I think everyone is glad it’s over.
With that being said, let’s come back and do it again in two years. The
current system is set where Maryland Elections are held every four
years, but it’s different on the federal level. The Presidency, which
has term limits, is contested every four years, but members of Congress
are challenged every two years.
When I asked Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger about term limits, he was
against it and stated, “If you don’t like us, vote us out,” since
there’s an election every two years. Well, if Maryland’s Delegates,
Senators and County Council members don’t have term limits, why aren’t
they on the ballot more often? Executive positions with term limits,
such as the Governor and County Executive, should stay four years while
state and county legislators should face elections every two years.
Local elections are also a boost for the local economy as candidates
advertise on TV, radio and in newspapers. Somebody also makes money off
those mailers and campaign signs. Wouldn’t it be great to get an
economic shot in the arm every two years instead of every four?
In addition, these elections promote civic pride. We all have
candidates that we want to get behind or vote against, but we’re
passionate either way.
Most importantly, more elections keep politicians honest when they have
to answer to the public every two years.
The only downside to holding local elections with the Presidential
Election is, well - the Presidential Election. Yes, there’s always
great turnout when we vote for a president, but the primaries would
cause trouble. Every state wants to move up its primary so it can be
one of the first to select the Presidential nominees. Some states vote
as early as January. During the Gubernatorial Elections, the primaries
are held in September with the General being held in November.
Maryland’s 2012 Presidential Primary is scheduled for February so the
heart of the primary campaigns would take place around the holidays
instead of the warm months of spring and summer. It might be a slight
setback, but still something we should do every two years.
Two New Council Members
The Baltimore County Council will have five new
members when it begins its new session with the new Baltimore County
Executive Kevin Kamenetz on Dec. 6. Two of the councilmembers are David
Marks (R-5) and Cathy Bevins (D-6). Marks defeated Democrat Mike Ertel.
“I was very appealing to Democrats and Independents. I also did
well in Loch Raven and Towson. I broke even in Loch Raven and was
competitive in Towson. I did well in Perry Hall too, but wouldn’t have
won the election if I just carried Perry Hall.”
In his first two years as councilman, Marks would like to make
government more open and transparent, schedule council work sessions at
night so more community members can attend, approve the Perry Hall
Community Plan and adopt a resolution of term limits for councilmembers.
“I’m going to be very visible like I was as Perry Hall Improvement
Association President. I look forward to working across party lines,
especially with Cathy (Bevins). We are going to be working on many of
the same issues.”
Marks becomes the second Republican on the County Council. Marks and
fellow Republican Todd Huff know they are outnumbered 5-2, but plan to
work with the Democratic majority. The Republicans were hoping that
Republican candidate Ryan Nawrocki was going to join them from the 6th
District, but Nawrocki lost to Bevins.
“Ryan ran an exceptional race. He worked hard and I hope to see him
back in 2014,” Marks added.
After election night results and absentee ballots, Bevins has a lead of
over 300 votes and appears to be the winner. The provisional ballots
still weren’t counted as of press time. Bevins could not be reached for
|11/4-At the End of the
(Election) Day, Incumbents Will Stay
finally over. No major upsets to report from Tuesday night’s election
as the incumbents had a big night locally. Our coverage area reaches
into three Councilmanic Districts (one councilperson for each) and
three State Legislative Districts (three Delegates and one Senator for
each.) I’m not a math major, but that gives us a total of 15 local
elected officials. Of those 15, 11 decided to run for re-election.
Of the 11 incumbents (seven Democrats and four Republicans), none lost.
While the rest of the country might be in an
anti-incumbent/anti-Democrat mode, all the incumbents were safe in
Maryland. Some say the incumbents won because they’re doing a good job,
while others say the incumbents were safe because of the lack of
quality challengers. Either way, congratulations to all the winners and
congratulations to all those who came up short but fought a hard
campaign. Here is a look at some of the races. For full results, click
Republicans Get One Seat in County, But
Democrats Take Rest
While no incumbents lost, there were some good
races involving first-time candidates. David Marks turned a Democratic
council seat into a Republican seat by defeating Democrat Mike Ertel.
The Republicans almost won another race, but Democrat Cathy Bevins was
leading Republican Ryan Nawrocki for the 6th District County Council
seat at press time. Overall Democrats are happy they kept the top seat
in Baltimore County as Kevin Kamenetz becomes the next County Executive
with a closer-than-expected win over Republican Ken Holt. I predicted
that Holt needed a big night from Ehrlich to translate into some votes
for him. Ehrlich didn’t do well in Baltimore County (or across the
state), but Holt only lost by seven percentage points. Some were
predicting a double-digit win by Kamenetz.
Republicans Take Open Seats
The Republicans played musical chairs in the 7th
Legislative District. First State Senator Andy Harris defeated Frank
Kratovil in the 1st Congressional Race; next Delegate J.B. Jennings won
Harris’s old senate seat by defeating Rebecca Nelson and newcomer
Republican Kathy Szeliga took Jennings’ old seat as she and Incumbent
Delegates Pat McDonough and Rick Impallaria defeated the three
Democrats. Another open seat was won by the Republicans in the 8th
District. Former Delegate John Cluster won the vacant Todd Schuler seat
as he edged out Democrat Ruth Baisden.
Closer Than Expected in 6th District House
All three Incumbent Democratic Delegates John
Olszewski, Jr., Mike Weir and Sonny Minnick were all re-elected, but
Republican Bob Long came short of 1,300 votes from taking third place
No Contest in Senate Races
Democratic Senators Norman Stone and Kathy
Klausmeier easily won re-election as Stone defeated Bruce Kahl 58 to 42
percent in the 6th District and Klausmeier defeated Republican Dee
Hodges 60 to 40 percent in the 8th District.
Mixing Politics & Government
Just like every American, County Executive Jim
Smith has a right to express his political views, but does he have the
right to do it on the County Government website? The County placed a
press release on its site with Smith urging citizens to Reject Question
A in Baltimore County. It didn’t matter because Question A passed, but
who knew a government website was a place for a political soapbox.
|10/27-The General Election
|I did it in
September for the primaries and I’ll do it again this week. Here are my
top five General Election races to watch in eastern Baltimore County
District Republican Senate Race - I wrote a few weeks ago that
Republican challenger Dee Hodges has a tough road in defeating Senator
Kathy Klausmeier, but if Republicans Ehrlich, Holt & Marks have a
big night, it could result into some votes for Hodges.
Congressional District Race - In the 2008 election, the
Kratovil vs. Harris battle was the only interesting local race. Now
with a full slate of races, this one has gotten lost under the radar
but should still be very competitive contest.
5) 8th District House Race (Republicans -
Joe Boteler (I), John Cluster & Norma Secoura vs. Democrats Eric
Bromwell (I), Cal Bowman & Ruth Baisden)
When Delegate Todd Schuler (D) decided not to
run for re-election, both Democrats and Republicans went after his open
seat. It appeared the Republicans would take back this seat in the
summer, but Cluster and Secoura haven’t run strong campaigns. Now
Bowman and Baisden both believe they can get that third seat.
4) 5th District County Council Race (Mike
Ertel vs. David Marks)
Many people feel Republican David Marks is the
favorite going into the race, which should scare some Republicans.
Remember, the majority of voters are still Democrats. Marks is expected
to do well in Perry Hall and Ertel is expected to do well in Towson.
Since Perry Hall has around 4,000 more voters in the district compared
to Towson, Ertel needs to get votes in Loch Raven and Parkville.
3) 6th District County Council Race (Cathy
Bevins vs. Ryan Nawrocki)
As mentioned last week, this race appears to be
too close to call. Republicans like Nawrocki’s chances because the
district appears to be popular with Republicans. Democrats like Bevins
because she has experience with county issues and has name recognition.
The winner better hope that Councilman Joe Bartenfelder doesn’t want
his seat back in four years.
2) Democratic County Executive Race (Ken
Holt vs. Kevin Kamenetz)
This is still Kamenetz’s race to lose. He has
big pockets and strong Democratic support. Being from the west part of
the county, Kamenetz has a strong base in those districts. Holt should
do well in the 5th and 6th Councilmanic Districts (Parkville, Perry
Hall, Middle River, Kingsville & White Marsh) because he is from
the area (Kingsville), has support from those conservative Bartenfelder
Democrats and had two strong Republican candidates (Ryan Nawrocki and
David Marks) running in those districts. The area to watch is 7th
Councilmanic District (Dundalk/Essex). Councilman John Olszewski, Sr.
has no Republican opponent and is a strong ally for Kamenetz, but Holt
knows that Bob Ehrlich is popular in the area and hopes those Ehrlich
supporters come out for him too. Could the 7th District determine the
County Executive race?
1) Gubernatorial Race (Bob Ehrlich vs.
O’Malley vs. Ehrlich in a rematch. Enough said.
|10/21-Ehrlich Low Poll
Hurt Local Republicans Too
numbers show Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley expanding his lead
over former Republican Bob Ehrlich. I’ll leave the reason why for the
state and national reporters to determine, but those numbers aren’t
good news for local Republicans. Ehrlich should still win the county
and will probably win most precincts in eastern Baltimore County, but
will he win by a lot? If the true Republican/conservative Democrat base
isn’t excited about Ehrlich’s candidacy, they will stay home. That
trickles down to the local races. In the County Executive’s race,
Republican Ken Holt has an uphill battle against Democratic candidate
Kevin Kamenetz. Holt needs those Ehrlich voters out at the polls. The
same is true for County Council candidates Republicans David Marks (5th
District) and Ryan Nawrocki (6th District). Both men feel confident in
their races, but Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1 in most voting
precincts throughout the county. If Ehrlich doesn’t post big numbers,
the local Republicans won’t either.
County Council Races
Speaking of the Marks and Nawrocki, both are
involved in two great local County Council races. One is in the 5th
District and the other is in 6th District. There is literally no race
in the 7th District as Councilman John Olszewski, Sr. is unopposed.
In the 5th District, Mike Ertel will face
Republican David Marks for Vince Gardina’s open seat. Ertel defeated
Bill Paulshock in the Democratic primary, but Paulshock said he would
vote for Marks in November.
“Bill can do what he wants to do, but I hope all the people who voted
and rooted for him will vote for me,” Ertel told me last week.
Paulshock’s lack of an endorsement could hurt Ertel as many Republicans
have told me Marks is favored to win because he is the “Perry Hall” guy
and Ertel is the “Towson” guy. There are more Perry Hall voters in this
district. Ertel needs a good Democratic turnout for County Executive
candidate Kevin Kamenetz, Senator Kathy Klausmeier and Delegate Eric
Bromwell. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Ertel could benefit
from a low Ehrlich turnout. Also, if either Democrat Cal Bowman or Ruth
Baisden can retain Todd Schuler’s old seat, that could translate into
some votes for Ertel too. Democrats probably thought Paulshock had a
better opportunity to defeat Marks and that’s why he was on Joe
Bartenfelder’s Democratic primary ticket. Paulshock is well-known in
Perry Hall too and might have cut into Mark’s strong Perry Hall base.
In addition, Paulshock is a business owner, which could have been
appealing to those conservative Democrats that usually cross over and
vote for Republican candidates.
It’s still hard to figure out the 6th District
race. Democrats claim that Cathy Bevins has strong support all over the
6th District with her time in the Jim Smith Administration. Republicans
claim the 6th District overlaps with the State’s 7th Legislative
District, which has all Republican candidates, and that gives Ryan
Nawrocki the edge. Of course, Democrats could say that Democrat Joe
Bartenfelder held the seat for 16 years and the Republicans could argue
back that Bartenfelder was a conservative Democrat and this seat will
go to Nawrocki. This one should be fun to watch.
|10/14-Incumbents Hard to
in 6th, 7th & 8th House and Senate Races
|Here is a
preview of November’s House and Senate Races for the 6th, 7th and 8th
Democrat incumbents Delegates John Olszewski,
Jr., Sonny Minnick and Mike Weir, Jr. are all seeking re-election in
the 6th District. They are being challenged by Republicans Ric Metzgar,
Bob Long and Carlton Clendaniel. Republicans are hopeful that either
Metzgar or Long can take a seat away from the Democrats, but which seat
is winnable? Olszewski, Minnick and Weir are all considered moderate to
conservative Democrats so there is no extremely liberal Delegate in the
District. If you go by seniority, Minnick is seeking his fifth term,
Weir his third and Olszewski his second. So Olszewski is the odd man
out? No way, Olszewski has gotten the most votes in the past two
elections. So whose seat can the Republicans get?
Republican candidate Bruce Kahl is challenging
incumbent Democratic Senator Norman Stone. Kahl hopes to get some of
those Jordan Hadfield supporters and Republicans voters, but it will be
tough. Just like the Delegates, Stone is a popular conservative
In 2006, there was an anti-Republican movement,
but the three Republicans still got re-elected in the 7th District.
This year appears to be an anti-Democrat movement, which means
Republican Delegates Pat McDonough and Rick Impallaria look to be safe.
Can either Democratic challengers Kristina Sargent, Jeff Beard or Ward
Morrow steal J.B. Jenning’s vacant seat or will it go to Republican
Even though this is Andy Harris’s old seat,
Republican J.B. Jennings is really the incumbent. He’s one of the
Delegates in the 7th District trying to become Senator. Democrat
Rebecca Nelson is challenging Jennings and has a tough road ahead.
This is the most exciting race because one
incumbent is Democrat Eric
Bromwell while the other incumbent is Republican Joe Boteler and there
is an open seat. Assuming Bromwell and Boteler get re-elected, four
candidates (Democrats Ruth Baisden and Cal Bowman and Republicans John
Cluster and Norma Secoura) are battling it out for one open seat.
Democratic Senator Kathy Klausmeier is extremely
tough to beat. She is being challenged by Republican Dee Hodges.
However, this might be a more interesting race than expected.
Republicans Bob Ehrlich and Ken Holt are expected to do well in this
region, but this is also the first time in years that a strong
Republican County Council candidate (David Marks) is running for
office. The 8th District overlaps with many of the precincts with the
5th Councilmanic District. Could that be enough to help Hodges be
Long’s Signs Long Gone
We got a call from Republican House of Delegates
candidate Bob Long who said a few of his 4’ by 8’ signs were stolen.
One of the signs was located at the corner of Merritt Boulevard and
Holabird Avenue and another was stolen in Essex. A police report has
been filled and Long is offering a reward to anyone with information.
|10/7-Hadfield & Crandell
|Just when you
thought we heard the last from Jordan Hadfield and Todd Crandell after
their primary losses in the 6th District Senate and House races, both
men hope to influence the November Election. In a bit of a surprise,
Democrats Hadfield and Crandell announced they are endorsing Republican
candidate Bob Ehrlich for Governor. They stated that the Ehrlich
platform is similar to their Blueprint for Progress.
“The Ehrlich platform, with its emphasis on lowering taxes and making
Maryland more business-friendly, mirrors what we have been saying about
our local needs from the very beginning,” the team said in a press
Of course, you have to wonder if their endorsement will burn a bridge
with the Democratic Party. Cathy Bevins, Democratic candidate for the
6th District County Council, questioned the move on Hadfield’s Facebook
“So why didn’t you run as Republicans if you think Bob (Ehrlich) is the
best choice for Maryland?” Bevins posted. Hadfield had not responded as
Does this endorsement really matter? Many experts think Ehrlich will
get plenty of votes in Dundalk/Essex with or without the
Hadfield/Crandell endorsement. Could Hadfield and Crandell be positing
themselves to join the Ehrlich Administration if the former Governor
wins in November?
Ehrlich Endorses Metzgar
Speaking of Ehrlich and the Sixth District, the
former Governor has officially endorsed Republican Ric Metzgar for the
House of Delegates. This isn’t a huge surprise since Ehrlich endorsed
Republican candidate Bob Long last week. Metzgar, Long and Carlton
Clendaniel need all the Republican support they can get because they
have an uphill battle in trying to defeat Democrat incumbents Delegates
John Olszewski, Jr., Sonny Minnick and Mike Weir, Jr.
Perry Hall High Student Joins Elite
Congratulations to Becky N. Shasha of Perry Hall
High School, one of only six students in Baltimore County to be named a
semifinalist in the 2011 National Achievement Scholarship Program.
The program recognizes scholastically talented African American
students across the nation and provides around 800 Achievement
Scholarship® awards worth more than $2.5 million. The scholarship
winners will be selected from the finalist group in the spring.
What Happened to the Supermarket?
During the summer, I remember seeing a sign for
a “natural” food store that appeared to be moving into the old Circuit
City building on Pulaski Highway. It looked like the outside of the
building was going to be yellow and seemed ready to open, but I drove
by a few weeks later and the outside of the building was painted brown
and it turned into a furniture store. Maybe the deal fell through, but
I was just amazed how the new furniture store came in and opened for
business so quickly. And the supermarket is not moving into the old
West Marine store either because a fitness center is scheduled to open.
I wish the furniture store and the fitness center the best of luck, but
what happened to the “natural food” store? I’m sure one of our readers
knows what happened to that store? Right?
Vs. Holt in a Battle Over Bartenfelder Supporters
Joe Bartenfelder in the Democratic County Executive primary, Kevin
Kamenetz now faces Republican challenger Ken Holt. On paper, Kamenetz
is favored because the County’s predominantly Democratic and he has the
funds. But Holt does have factors in his favor.
One advantage could be Bob Ehrlich. Even though he lost to Martin
O’Malley statewide in 2006, Ehrlich still defeated O’Malley in
Baltimore County. If Ehrlich can get more County voters out to the
polls, Holt can benefit. However, Republican County Executive
candidates Doug Riley (2002) and Clarence Bell (2006) couldn’t take
advantage of Ehrlich’s popularity in Baltimore County to defeat Jim
Probably the biggest factor working for Holt is that some Joe
Bartenfelder supporters are angry at how the campaign between Kamenetz
and Bartenfelder turned negative. And Republicans have noticed.
Republican Steve Bailey sent a letter to the Baltimore Sun about his
disapproval of the Kamenetz campaign.
“Joe Bartenfelder deserved better than to have his career ended by a
campaign that attempted to portray him as a bigot. For 28 years he has
faithfully served the residents of his legislative and councilmanic
districts,” Bailey wrote in the letter.
Delegate Pat McDonough, who criticized Kamenetz of becoming too
negative, reposted Bailey’s letter on his Facebook page too. Can Holt
and the Republicans get to some of those supporters? Well, they’ll need
them to win.
Kamenetz might need some help too. He needs a Bartenfelder endorsement.
Will Kamenetz get it or will Bartenfelder actually endorse Holt? There
is also the possibility that Bartenfelder won’t endorse either
Jim Smith’s Money
Even though he’s not running for any political
office, some Republicans are concerned Baltimore County Executive Jim
Smith will be a huge factor in November’s election. Smith has always
been a strong supporter of O’Malley and is expected to campaign hard
for Kamenetz now that his battle with Bartenfelder is over, but local
Republicans are more concerned about Smith’s cash.
Steve Bailey, Republican candidate for Baltimore County State’s
Attorney, and his campaign flied a request with the Campaign Finance
Division of the State Board of Elections to prevent Smith, from
participating in this year’s election as a member of a campaign
“slate.” (See page 18 for full article.) Members of a slate are allowed
to transfer an unlimited amount of money through the slate from one
campaign to another if both campaigns are members of the same slate.
With over $1 million in the “Friends of Jim Smith” slate, Bailey
expects Smith to transfer the funds over to a few County Council
candidates, including 6th District Democratic candidate Cathy Bevins.
Bailey is running against State’s Attorney candidate Scott
Shellenberger after losing to him in 2006. Bailey claimed Smith
transferred $435,000 to Shellenberger’s campaign in ’06 and is
concerned it could happen again.
“Elections should not be decided by well connected politicians who
raise vast sums of money from developers doing business with the
county, and then circumvent the rules governing campaign
contributions,” said Bailey. “This is just another example of a
Baltimore County politician who believes that the laws apply to
everyone but him.”
Look to November While Others Might Look Ahead to 2014
to all the winners of the primaries. I’ll focus on the winners in the
next six weeks, but this week is about the candidates who weren’t
successful and why.
Jordan Hadfield and Todd Crandell
They ran a good campaign, but they could only go
so far in a Democratic primary. What could they have done differently
to win? They could have run as Republicans. Now I don’t want to tell
Hadfield and Crandell to change their beliefs and political philosophy,
but if a conservative Republican candidate ran a strong campaign like
Hadfield and Crandell, they could be successful.
The reason why the incumbents (Senator Norman Stone and Delegates John
Olszewski, Jr., Mike Weir, Jr. and Sonny Minnick) are so tough to beat
is they’re moderate to conservative Democrats. If a new Democratic
candidate comes in with a more liberal approach, it scares the
conservative Democratic voters in the Sixth District.
For argument sake, let’s say a strong candidate like Hadfield ran as a
Republican against Senator Stone. Suddenly he gets the support of Bob
Ehrlich, Andy Harris, Pat McDonough and other Republicans that can
endorse and raise the stock (or even campaign funds). But challenging
an incumbent Democrat as a Democrat is an uphill battle.
I wrote last week that it was the biggest
surprise in eastern Baltimore County when Norma Secoura edged out
Merryman for the last Republican seat in the 8th District. I thought
Merryman ran a good grassroots campaign, but it might have been a
little too grassroots. Secoura told me she was on the Baltimore County
Republican Central Committee and was a Legislative Liaison for the
Department of Transportation for Ehrlich. Merryman was an unknown
candidate that ran as an unofficial “Tea Party” candidate in the
Republican party. So Secoura’s victory might have been attributed to
Charles “Buzz” Beeler
Beeler had a tough battle with Councilman John
Olszewski, Sr. in the
7th District. Again, I don’t want to tell a candidate to changes his
beliefs, but what if Beeler ran as a Republican? The Republican
heavyweights might have rallied behind him because Olszewski is a
strong ally of Gov. Martin O’Malley. Beeler got 35 percent of the vote,
but might have got 10 percent more with Republicans voting for him in
November. The main problem behind Beeler was that he tried to do
everything by himself. He used his own money, never got any momentum or
had visible supporters.
It looked like Redmer’s Senate race with J.B
Jennings would be competitive, but Redmer only got 37.5 percent of the
vote. There were three things that hurt Redmer. First, he left the 8th
District to enter the 7th District and faced a candidate in Jennings
who was already in the district as an established Delegate.Next,
popular Delegates Pat McDonough and Rick Impallaria kept Jennings on
their ticket. And finally, former Governor Bob Ehrlich endorsed
Jennings over Redmer, who was Ehrlich’s Insurance Commissioner. Too
much for Redmer to overcome.
The most probable reason for Paulshock’s loss to
Mike Ertel in the Fifth Councilmanic District was he lives in
Kingsville but used his business address. However, another factor might
have been the Bartenfelder loss. Paulshock was on the Bartenfelder
ticket and voter turnout was low on the east side, which hurt
Bartenfelder in the polls. That could have hurt Paulshock too.
|9/16-Thoughts on The Primary Election
primary had low voter turnout, which was a little surprising because I
thought voters would go to the polls due to the state of the economy.
There weren’t too many upsets, which isn’t surprising, but not as
competitive of races as I expected. Here is a look at some of the
races. For full results, click here.
Going into the Election Day, I thought the Kevin
Kamenetz - Joe Bartenfelder race would be close and I thought
Bartenfelder was the slight favorite. Boy, was I wrong. Kamenetz won
the race in convincing fashion. To his credit, Kamenetz used the power
of TV to win with all those ads. Kamenetz can smile but can’t relax
just yet. He now will have to face Republican challenger Ken Holt in
6th Legislative District
It looked as if the Hadfield/Crandell ticket was
victorious in the 6th District. Hadfield had a comfortable double-digit
lead over Senator Norman Stone in the early returns, but Stone emerged
on top after all the precincts reported. Crandell was actually the top
vote getter in the early returns but fell behind the three incumbents,
John Olszewski, Jr., Sonny Minnick and Mike Weir, Jr.
The Hadfield/Crandell ticket brought a lot of energy to this election,
but it’s tough to beat incumbents in a primary.
7th Legislative District
There wasn’t any suspense to either the
Republican House of Delegates races. Delegates Pat McDonough and Rick
Impallaria got re-elected and newcomer Kathy Szeliga easily took the
third seat. Kristina Sargent, Jeff Beard and Ward Morrow were the top
three Democrats. With the endorsement of Bob Ehrlich, J.B. Jennings
comfortably defeated Al Redmer in the Republican Senate seat. Jennings
will now take on Rebecca Nelson in November after she defeated Jim
Stavropoulos on the Democratic side.
8th Legislative District
I thought there was a bit of an upset in the
Republican House race. As expected, Delegate Joe Boteler and former
Delegate John Cluster were the top two vote getters, but Norma Secoura
was leading Rani Merryman at press time. Merryman considered herself a
Tea Party candidate and ran a good campaign. I thought she was strong
enough to possibly challenge Cluster for the second seat. Secoura
surprised me after it appeared her campaign was falling apart. Her
campaign manager quit on her in August and Secoura received criticism
from Republicans when she attended a Joe Bartenfelder fundraiser, but
she might advance to November.
Democrats Ruth Baisden, Cal Bowman and Eric Bromwell were all unopposed
in the House race and Senator Kathy Klausmeier had no opponent in her
primary. She will face Republican Dee Hodges in November. Hodges easily
defeated Benjamin Lawless on Tuesday. I thought Lawless had a shot to
beat Hodges in the early summer. He is an Iraq War Veteran with a
likeable personality, but he disappeared in the summer. Lawless didn’t
campaign enough to make the race competitive.
Council County Races
Councilman John Olszewski, Sr. beat Buzz Beeler
in the 7th District. With a few incumbents being defeated on Tuesday
and others giving up their seat, Olszewski will be the only returning
member of the County Council. He has no Republican opponent in the
In the 5th District, Mike Ertel went on to upset Bill Paulshock, even
though Paulshock was on a ticket with Bartenfelder and Klausmeier.
Ertel will face Republican David Marks in November. You have to wonder
if that controversy with Paulshock’s Kingsville residence came back to
hurt him. It was not a good night for the Bartenfelder ticket as
Bartenfelder, Paulshock and Todd Schuler all lost their races. Cathy
Bevins went on to beat Schuler and Steve Verch in the 5th District
County Council race. County Executive Jim Smith endorsed Bevins. She
will face Ryan Nawrocki in November after he beat Andy Peet in the
Republican primary. I’ll have more on the election next week.
Election Only Five Days Away
|The primary is
almost here. One of the most exciting and frustrating parts of local
elections is no polling data. That means we have to look at yard signs,
political advertisements and general word of mouth from the public to
figure out who is favored going into an election. Many times, we really
have to wait until Election Night. With that being said, here are my
top five primary races to watch in eastern Baltimore County this
District Republican House of Delegate Race - Delegates Pat
McDonough and Rick Impallaria should get re-elected, but there is an
open seat. Either Jim “The Plumber” Berndt or former Andy Harris
staffer Kathy Szeliga is favored to take the third seat.
District Democrat House of Delegate Race - Delegates John
Olszewski, Jr., Mike Weir, Jr. and Sonny Minnick are expected to all
get re-elected, but can Todd Crandell, Cassandra Brown Umoh or Jake
Mohorovic can come close to stealing a seat away from the incumbents?
5) 6th District Democratic Senate Race
(Jordan Hadfield vs. Norman Stone)
Stone is the favorite, but it will be
interesting to see how Hadfield’s campaigning pays off against an
extremely tough opponent. Hadfield has run an “in your face” campaign
that makes you either love him or hate him. Can Hadfield get enough
“love” to pull off the upset, or will all that campaigning still result
in a lopsided loss to Stone?
4) 6th District Democratic County Council
Race (Cathy Bevins vs. Todd Schuler vs. Steve Verch)
Anyone of these three could win. Schuler
appeared to be the favorite. He is an experienced politician with name
recognition, but his district as delegate covers Parkville, Perry Hall
and Overlea. This councilmanic district covers Overlea, Middle River
and White Marsh, which might be too conservative for Schuler. Bevins
has run a good campaign and has the support of County Executive Jim
Smith. Verch appeared to have been a long shot in the spring, but has
campaigned hard in the past few months and has run on the platform of
terms limits for council members.
3) 7th District Republican Senate Race
(J.B. Jennings vs. Al Redmer)
Both candidates have been campaigning for this
office for over a year now. Jennings has the endorsement of Bob
Ehrlich, but Redmer has campaigned hard and should make this race close.
2) 5th District Democratic County
Council Race (Mike Ertel vs. Gordon Harden vs. Bill Paulshock)
Even though Harden got endorsed by Smith too,
this appears to be an Ertel vs. Paulshock showdown. Paulshock was the
clear favorite when he jumped on a ticket with Joe Bartenfelder and
Senator Kathy Klausmeier, but received criticism when accused of filing
under his business address instead of his Kingsville residence, outside
the 5th District. How will voters respond on Tuesday?
1) Democratic County Executive Race (Joe
Bartenfelder vs. Kevin Kamenetz)
This wasn’t ranked number one just because it’s
for the highest office in the county, it’s ranked number one because
it’s been a very competitive (and nasty of late) race.
|9/2-Local Citizens Going
After Big Political Offices
|Over the past
five months, I have concentrated on the local elections, the statewide
races in the 6th, 7th & 8th Districts and the County Council races
in the 5th, 6th & 7th Councilmanic Districts. I haven’t focused on
the countywide races because there are too many to follow expect the
County Executive race; however, there are some citizens of eastern
Baltimore County that are running for countywide and statewide races.
This isn’t an endorsement of any candidate. I just want to inform the
community of our neighbors running for office.
Dundalk resident James Lynch is one of many candidates running for U.S.
Senate against Barbara Mikulski. Lynch is a write-in candidate on the
Democratic side. Republican Greg Bartosz grew up in Rosedale and
graduated from Eastern Tech High School. He is running for Congress in
the 3rd District. If he can beat out three other Republicans in two
weeks, Bartosz will face Congressman John Sarbanes in November.
Charles Pepersack is a Rosedale resident running for Clerk of the
Circuit Court in Baltimore County. This office is highly contested as
Pepersack is one of three Republicans and the Democrats have five
candidates. Dundalk resident William Evans is a Democrat running for
re-election as an Orphans’ Court Judge. In addition, there are only two
Republicans running for Sheriff in Baltimore County and both live on
the east side. Overlea resident Raymond C. Boccelli will take on Middle
River resident Richard F. Parron. The winner faces Democratic Sheriff
R. Jay Fisher in November.
There’s at least one more local citizen running for office. We all know
that Joe Bartenfelder is from Fullerton and Ken Holt is from
Kingsville, but Democratic candidate Ron Harvey is running for County
Executive too. Harvey is from Perry Hall.
Why Bother to Run?
I know money is always an issue for some
candidates, but why do other candidates file if they aren’t going to
campaign? I had a candidate tell me that he spent over $30,000 on a
campaign and still lost. That’s a lot of money to spend, but there are
low cost ideas out there to get your name and message out to the
public. The most obvious one is Facebook. Many candidates added me and
others as their friend. This way, we can follow the campaign and he/she
can send out announcements and information on events. Some candidates
don’t take advantage of this free service. Not only are there
candidates without a “John Doe for Senate” page, there are some without
a personal Facebook page. Don’t have a computer? There is the always
popular stand on the street corner with your “vote for me” sign and
wave to the passing motorists. Another good idea is to knock on doors
in your community. In the end, the winners will probably outspend their
opponents by advertising, buying yard signs and having a big staff to
promote their message, but some candidates aren’t even trying to
All Over Eastern Baltimore County
|As you’ve read
the last few weeks, there has been controversy with the Sixth
Legislative candidates and the lack of a forum/debate, but the district
isn’t alone. There are primary races all over the region with many open
seats, but no forums or debates have been scheduled. Fifth District
County Council candidate Bill Paulshock said he and Mike Ertel held a
forum in Towson, but not down here in Perry Hall. Perhaps I wasn’t
informed, but I’m unaware of any candidate forums that included all 6th
District Democratic candidates Todd Schuler, Cathy Bevins or Steve
Verch at the same venue. The same goes for the 6th District Republican
candidates Andy Peet and Ryan Nawrocki.
In many situations, the candidates have a scheduling conflict or don’t
participate because of a conflict. For example, the Americans for
Prosperity (AFP) were scheduled to hold a forum for candidates of the
5th, 6th and 7th Coucilmanic Districts on Wednesday. I talked to some
of the Democratic candidates to see if they were attending. With open
seats in the Fifth and Sixth districts, all candidates have everything
to gain, but many weren’t sure about attending. One candidate might
have another obligation, another candidate doesn’t know if he/she would
feel comfortable going since AFP is anti-Obama and appears
anti-Democrat. That might be a fair point, but does that matter if that
candidate is squaring off with other Democrats? Another candidate wants
to know if he/she would benefit from a forum with 25- 50 people and
would rather use the evening to knock on a few hundred doors. This
upsets me because our reporter Diane Carliner was scheduled to cover
this forum and all the candidates could reach out to the 35,000 readers
of our paper. We’ll have to wait for Diane’s article next week to see
I covered an event last week, but some candidates weren’t present. It’s
not fair to report on some candidates, but not others. What should a
reporter do? I wish all candidates would show up so I could report on
all of them.
Of course, who should organize these forums/debates? Major
organizations (such as Marine Trades Association of Baltimore County
and the Marshy Point Nature Center) have hosted the County Executive
forums, but don’t host the local forums. What about the local community
organizations? As we saw in Dundalk, many candidates are members of
these organizations and it creates a conflict.
I guess that leaves the local newspaper. Steve Matrazzo of the Dundalk
Eagle and I were asked to organize a debate between the candidates in
The Sixth District. We have no problem contacting the candidates,
coming up with questions and promoting to the community, but
unfortunately there’s more. We’ve got to find a venue with proper
seating and equipment such as a podium, microphones and a giant speaker
Perhaps the best approach is to get the community organizations to book
the venues and invite us non-partisan reporters to moderate the
forum/debate. It might be too late for the primary, but hopefully we
can set-up forum/debates throughout eastern Baltimore County for the
Controlled Baltimore County Council?
|I spoke to many
candidates at the Perry Hall Town Fair, and all of them feel they have
a shot to win, but Republican County Council candidates David Marks
(5th District) and Ryan Nawrocki (6th District) are extremely
confident. Both are competing for an open seat and have the benefit of
being first-time candidates. Of course, both will face a tough
Democratic opponent in November.
Marks is well known in northeast Baltimore County with his involvement
in the Perry Hall Improvement Association. He will face either Bill
Paulshock or Mike Ertel in the General Election, but is confident he
can compete with either Democrat.
Nawrocki is also in a good position because the County’s 6th District
overlaps with many of the voting precincts in the State’s 7th District
(White Marsh, Middle River and Kingsville), which has all Republican
delegates and a senator. Even though Democrat Joe Bartenfelder
currently holds that seat, Nawrocki doesn’t feel any of the Democrats
(Todd Schuler, Cathy Bevin’s or Steve Verch) are as conservative as
Currently, the Democrats hold a 6-1 advantage in the County Council,
but victories by Marks and Nawrocki could close that gap to 4-3. I
don’t follow west Baltimore County politics, but Nawrocki believes
Republican Steve Whisler can win another open seat in the 1st District.
That would create an unprecedented 4-3 Republican majority. If the
Republicans can win four out of seven districts, they’ve got to believe
Ken Holt can beat the Kevin Kamenetz/Joe Bartenfelder winner and become
the first Republican Baltimore County Executive since Roger Hayden in
20 years. Hold on. Republicans shouldn’t get too excited, and Democrats
shouldn’t panic just yet. Democratic voters still outnumber Republicans
and the Democratic Party has deep pockets. Still, the Republicans can
probably win at least one and/or two seats and cut that Democratic
County Council majority down from 6-1 to 5-2 or 4-3.
Not Proud to be a Democrat or Republican?
One of our sales reps, Pam Spitell, made a great
point. Almost all of the political signs in the yards and on the
highways list a candidate’s name and the office that he/she is running
for but don’t list that candidate’s party. Al Redmer is the only
candidate I’ve seen with “Republican” on his signs. That includes
Martin O’Malley and Bob Ehrlich. Are these candidates trying to
distance themselves from their parties?
From a Box Factory to the Local Media
I would like to thank Steve Matrazzo of the Dundalk Eagle for his kind words
about this reporter in his weekly column. It’s funny because I tell
people all the time that Steve and I worked together. Most people
aren’t surprised because many journalists cross paths all the time
working at different publications, but as Steve mentioned in his
column, we worked together at a box factory. It’s cool and ironic how
we both had a career change and wound up in the local media.
|8/12-Trying to Organize A
|The last two
weeks, I wrote about the “Debate Over the Debate” and I think most
readers are tired of all the fighting and want to see a debate. Well,
last week I got an e-mail from candidates Delegate John Olszewski, Jr.,
Todd Crandall and Jordan Hadfield. They are tired of the fighting too
and asked me to be one of the moderators for a debate. Now Senator
Stone’s camp doesn’t believe it’s practical to have a debate because of
the amount of candidates and that’s a fair point. The minor details of
the format (debate or forum) can be worked out later. At this time, I
just want all the candidates running for the House of Delegates and the
Senate in the Sixth District to agree on a date. As of Tuesday morning,
many candidates have agreed to an event on Monday night, Aug. 30.
So far, Delegate Sonny Minnick, Senator Norman Stone, Delegate Mike
Weir, Delegate John Olszewski, Jr., Cassandra Brown-Umoh and Jordan
Hadfield have agreed to an Aug. 30 event. Also there was concern the
Republicans weren’t invited to the proposed debates. I talked to Bob
Long and Ric Metzgar (two of the three Republicans that will face no
primary opponents) and they agreed to allow the crowded Democratic
field to debate without any complaints as long as they get an
opportunity to debate the three Democratic winners before the General
The next step is to find a venue. I’m hoping that CCBC-Dundalk will let
the candidates use its theater for the event as it was scheduled to do
with the cancelled debates. Hopefully everything will come together and
we will have a date, time, venue and a format to report for next week’s
Nine Republicans is a Crowd in the 7th
I’ve written about the House of Delegates races
in the Sixth District (Dundalk, Edgemere, Essex & Rosedale) with
the debate situation and mentioned the Eighth District (Perry Hall,
Parkville, Overlea & Towson) last week, but haven’t focused on the
Seventh District (White Marsh, Kingsville, Middle River, southeast
Harford County) since mid-June. Back then there were only five
Republicans fighting for the three spots and then that total jumped to
nine. Delegates Pat McDonough and Rick Impallaria are favored to win
two of the three Republican nominations, but that third slot is wide
open as J.B. Jennings gave up his seat to enter the State Senate race.
Realistically, seven Republicans (Brian Bennett, Jim Berndt, Marilyn
Booker, Laine O. C. Clark, John Cromwell, Kathy Szeliga and Roger
Zajdel) are fighting for potentially one slot.
It’s easier for the Democrats as only four candidates (Jeff Beard,
David “Ski” Mioduszewski, James “Ward” Morrow and Kristina Sargent) are
fighting for three nominations. Rebecca Weir-Nelson withdrew from the
House race to compete in the 7th District Senate race. Of course, the
three Democratic House winners will have an uphill battle in November
in this Republican-friendly district.
|8/5-The Debate Over the
|Last week I
wrote about the “Debate over the Debate” where the candidates for the
Sixth Legislative District were set to debate first on June 30 and then
on July 27, but both debates were cancelled. Although all 10 Democratic
candidates were invited, there is tension between the incumbent Forward
Together Team (Senator Norman Stone and Delegates Joseph “Sonny”
Minnick, John Olszewski, Jr. and Mike Weir, Jr.) and the Todd Crandell
and Jordan Hadfield ticket.
Bob Crandell, campaign manager for the Crandell/Hadfield team said the
June 30 debate was cancelled because all of the members of the “Forward
Together” team (except Delegate Weir) couldn’t commit to the event.
Fred Theiss, “Forward Together” team campaign manager, said that only
Stone couldn’t make the June 30 debate.
Then The League of Women Voters postponed the July 27 debate when it
was revealed that organizer Karen Cruz is married to Rick Cruz, a
member of the Crandell/Hadfield ticket.
But Crandell is angry that Cruz and Rhonda Crisp have been criticized
for just trying to hold a debate. Both are admitted supporters of
Crandell/Hadfield, not members of the campaign, and both are also
leaders of community associations (Cruz is president of the Eastfield
Stanbrook Civic Association and Crisp is President of the Dunlogan
Community Association) that partnered with other leaders of community
associations (some of which they claim support the “Forward Together”
team) to give the community a debate. Crandell also stated that Cruz
began organizing the debate before her husband Rick was selected on the
Theiss, who is president of the Wells-McComas Citizens Improvement
Association, wants to know why his community organization wasn’t asked
to sponsor the event.
“If Karen Cruz’s group is a sponsor and she’s a supporter of Hadfield -
that’s fine, but why didn’t they call my group to make it fair?” Theiss
Crandell said Cruz and Crisp agreed to pass the debate over to the
League of Women Voters, but the “Forward Together” team still won’t
settle on a date.
“They claim that they still want to debate, but that couldn’t be
further from the truth,” Crandell said. Theiss denied Crandell’s
“We have no problem with a debate, but we won’t maneuver with something
that isn’t handled properly,” Theiss responded.
Thesis added that there will probably be a forum instead of a debate.
Since the debate/forum is open to all candidates (10 Democrats and four
Republicans) Thesis doesn’t believe there’s enough time for all 14
candidates to debate for two hours. Crandell told me his team prefers a
debate, but would settle for a forum.
While these two camps have fought, other candidates have been
overlooked. Cassandra Brown-Umoh, another candidate for the House of
Delegates, stopped by my office to tell me she feels the incumbents
don’t want to debate, but is angry that she wasn’t contacted about the
cancellation of the July 27 debate. Brown-Umoh, Don Mason and Raymond
Smith went to CCBC-Dundalk on July 27 because none of those candidates
Kirby is Out
Democratic candidate Nicole Kirby has withdrawn
from the 8th District House of Delegate race. This means that Delegate
Eric Bromwell and challengers Cal Bowman and Ruth Baisden are the only
Democrats in the race and will face three Republicans in the General
Even though he missed the filing deadline, Bill
“Kush” Kushnerick is still running for the State Senate seat in
the 6th District. He will face Bruce Kahl in the Republican primary,
but only as a write-in candidate. “It’s going to be a lot tougher this
time since I am a write-in candidate,” he said.
|7/29-The Debate Over the
|It’s the debate
that didn't happened and might never happen. On Tuesday July 27, the
candidates from the Sixth Legislative District were scheduled to
participate in a Democratic Candidate Debate at CCBC-Dundalk, but the
debate was cancelled. I made a few calls and found out that there was a
conflict of interest when it was reported that one of the organizers of
the debate, Karen Cruz, is married to Rick Cruz, who happens to be on
Jordan Hadfield/Todd Crandell central committee ticket.
I spoke with Delegate John Olszewski, Jr.’s campaign manager David
Janiszewski and he told me that he even though there was a conflict of
interest with Karen Cruz organizing the event and Rick Cruz on the
Hadfield/Crandell ticket, the incumbents/“Forward Together” team
(Senator Norman Stone and Delegates Joseph “Sonny” Minnick, John
Olszewski, Jr. and Mike Weir, Jr.) didn’t back out of the debate.
“We were prepared to debate, but we understand the League of Women
Voters backed out of the debate because of Ms. Cruz and that made CCBC
uncomfortable and lead them to back out,” Janiszewski said.
Hadfield/Crandell’s campaign manager Bob Crandell (Todd’s father)
admitted to me that both Karen Cruz and Rhonda Crisp are
Hadfield/Crandell supporters, but Crandell said the women did
everything they could do to avoid any controversy.
“The two ladies contacted other community associations to get involved
and contacted the League of Women Voters to give the debate
credibility,” Crandell said.
The first debate was scheduled for June 30, but there was a scheduling
conflict and now the July 27 debate has been cancelled.
How Many Community Associations Should be
Another disagreement between the candidates is
the amount of community associations invited to the debate. The
“Forward Together” is upset that only a handful of community
organizations were contacted.
“Not all the community associations were represent and we felt like all
members of the community should be able to participate and be heard.
Not a select few,” Janiszewski added.
But Crandell responded by saying that there had to be a cut off
“When they got 10 community organizations, we felt like that was
enough. How many organizations are there in the District? Close to 100?
It would have gotten crazy if they involved every organization
and that’s why we contacted the League of Women voters to make things
So What Happens Now?
Cruz and Crisp have been removed from planning
the debate and the League of Women voters are in charge. There is talk
that the debate could be held around Aug. 11, but a date hasn’t been
set and the primary is only six weeks away. The League of Women Voters
didn’t return my call.
Janiszewski said the “Forward Together” team had sent out four possible
debate dates to the Hadfield/Crandell’s campaign, but haven’t gotten a
response. Let’s hope these camps put their differences aside and give
the voters in the Sixth District a true debate before Sept. 14.
Hall Fair Rescheduled for August
|Well, it hadn’t
rained all summer until July 10, the day of the Perry Hall/White Marsh
Town Fair. It was obviously rained out, but Perry Hall Improvement
Association President Dennis Robinson told me that he hoped to
reschedule the Fair. Well it was reported that the Fair has been
rescheduled for Saturday, Aug. 14. This is the first time in the Fair’s
13-year history that it was cancelled because of rain. I’m not sure how
many vendors will or won’t be there with the new date; however, you can
bet the politicians/candidates running for office will be there
campaigning because the Fair is exactly one month before the primary.
Breaking Down the Democratic County
Speaking of the primary, I’ve been trying to get
a feel for the Baltimore County Democratic primary between Joe
Bartenfelder and Kevin Kamenetz to determine which candidate has the
upper hand at this point of the campaign. I’ve talked to other
politicians and experts who follow the race and some say Bartenfelder
is favored, some say Kamenetz is favored, but most don’t know. I’ve
also been looking for political polls, but I haven’t seen one. Even if
a poll was released this early, it might not be accurate because many
voters are either undecided or uninterested in the candidates at this
I thought Kamenetz was going to deliver an early knockout blow before
the candidates officially declared their candidacies. Kamenetz had over
$1 million in campaign money and got some early powerhouse endorsements
from Kweisi Mfume, former State Senator Mike Collins and Councilman
John Olszewski, Sr. The Olszewski endorsement was a big deal because
Olszewski works with both men on the Baltimore County Council and he
represents Dundalk and Essex.
But Bartenfelder came right back with strong performances at the County
Executive forums, got endorsements from Senator Kathy Klausmeier,
Delegate Eric Bromwell and the rest of the Democratic ticket in the
northeast and got life back in Dundalk and Essex when Senator Norman
Stone, Delegate Sonny Minnick and their team endorsed him too. Both men
have split most of the union/group endorsements. Kamenetz got support
from The Laborers International Union of North America, The Teachers
Association of Baltimore County and County Seal Democratic Club.
Bartenfelder has been endorsed by Maryland State United Auto Workers,
the United Food & Commercial Workers and Baltimore County
Firefighters. And there is probably a lot I’ve left out for both camps.
Gardina Endorses Kamenetz
Kamenetz got another big politician to endorse
him as Councilman Vince Gardina announced his support last week. But is
that a good thing or a bad thing? On one hand, Gardina is the second
councilman (along with Olszewski) to endorse Kamenetz and he worked
with both Kamenetz and Bartenfelder. On the other hand, Gardina is not
the most popular person in Baltimore County with his pension
Again, who has the upper hand right now? Kamenetz or
Bartenfelder? Do we have to wait until September? Republican candidate
Ken Holt sure hopes so.
2010 Election is Set
Files For Office
Former County Councilman Don Mason is running
for the House of Delegates in the Sixth District. The Eastwood resident
told me that he planned on running, but asked me not to report it until
he filed. He filed on the last day, July 6. Mason wasn’t the only
former officer to file for the House on the last day as former Delegate
Jake Mohorovic filed and will try to reclaim the job he held from 1995
- 2003. Both men join a crowded Democratic field that includes eight
candidates (Mason, Mohorovic, Todd Crandell, Cassandra Brown Umoh,
Raymond Smith and the three incumbents - Sonny Minnick, John Olszewski,
Jr. and Mike Weir, Jr.)
Lack of Republicans in Dundalk/Essex
While statewide and national republican
candidates (Bob Ehrlich, George W. Bush and John McCain) have won most
of the voting precincts in the area, the local Republican party still
has trouble fielding candidates for local offices. The party has three
candidates for the House of Delegates in the Sixth District (Carlton
William Clendaniel, Ric Metzgar and Bob Long), but has no candidate in
the Seventh District County Council race to face the John Olszewski,
Sr./Buzz Beeler winner in November. There wasn’t a Republican candidate
in the Sixth District Senate race until the last day. There was talk
that Bill Kushnerick, who ran in 2006 for the Senate, was going to run
this year, but he didn’t file. Both Republicans Paul Blitz and Steve
Dishon said they weren’t going to run again for office in 2010 and they
kept their word as neither filed.
The Republican candidate who filed for the Senate is Bruce Kahl. He is
a resident of Essex and is known in the community as Senior Army
Instructor JROTC at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts.
Seventh District Senate Race
We all knew about the J.B. Jennings/Al Redmer
Republican primary race, but the question was who (if anyone) would
face them in the General Election. Baltimore County Executive Jim
Smith, whose term ends this year, was mentioned, but he decided not to
run. Instead, two other candidates filed for the Democrats. Rebecca
Weir Nelson withdrew her name from the House of Delegates race to enter
the Senate race. She will face Jim Stavropoulos, Jr. in the Democratic
Nothing to Report in the Perry Hall/White
Not to leave the northeast area out, but there
is nothing new to report. Towson resident Gordon Harden joined the
Democratic primary for the Fifth District County Council and will face
Mike Ertel and Bill Paulshock. The winner will face the unopposed
Republican David Marks in November. In the Eighth District House of
Delegates primary races, it’s still the same four Democrats (Ruth
Baisden, Cal Bowman, Eric Bromwell & Nichole Kirby) and the same
four Republicans (Joe Boteler, John Cluster, Rani Merryman & Norma
Secoura). Russ Mirabile filed for the House race and will run as an
unaffiliated member of any party.
I’ll break down all the races again over the next two months.
|7/8-Perry Hall Fair
had the Heritage Fair, Essex has Essex Day in September and the Perry
Hall-White Marsh area has its big festival this Saturday, July 10 from
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. with the Perry Hall/White Marsh Town Fair.
I’ll admit, I’m a little disappointed because the Fair is no longer at
Perry Hall High School on Ebenezer Road. Instead, the Fair moved to the
Honeygo Village Center.
But don’t blame the fair committee, as Baltimore County Public Schools
forced the Fair to move by changing their policy, which no longer
allows these types of events on school grounds. Former Perry Hall
Improvement Association President David Marks told me that the Ebenezer
Road location was a popular site, but the Fair needed to find a
One of my new concerns is parking. I spoke to Lynn Richardson,
President of the Perry Hall White Marsh Business Association, and she
said parking will be available at half of the Weis parking lot and at
Camp Chapel United Methodist Church lot. If those lots fill up, patrons
can park at either Perry Hall Park or at the golf field on Chapel Road
and take a free shuttle bus to the fair. So what is the over/under on
politicians/candidates running for office at the fair? Since it’s an
election year, I’ll say at least 50 and I’m probably underestimating.
Mount Carmel Football
As reported, Mount Carmel High School (MC) will
start playing football in September and a bull roast will be held for
the school at Chapel Hill Farms on Aug. 8. I wonder how long it will
take for MC to field a successful team? Head coach Robb Johnson
believes there is a lot of talent in the area and he might have a
point. Chesapeake High School beat eventual state champion Eastern
Tech during the regular season, Kenwood usually wins around
six-to-seven games a year in a tough division and Eastern Tech just won
a state title. Granted, Eastern Tech has no school boundaries like
Chesapeake & Kenwood and has students from all over the east side
of the county, but Mount Carmel can recruit those same type of
students/players. With MC as the only Catholic high school in eastern
Baltimore County, the school feels it can get students from Essex,
Dundalk, Perry Hall, etc. This all starts with successful rec. programs
like the Stembridge Colts at the pee wee level. Actually, adding
football is a marketing tool, as many students didn’t attend the school
because there was no football. In an era with declining enrollment in
private schools, football can help turn around those numbers.
|7/1-Local Hon Becomes Best
Growing up in
Baltimore, we all know about the Baltimore Hons and the Hon Fest that
takes place in Hampden. Dundalk resident Charlene Osborne is not only a
Hon, but she was voted Bawlmer’s Best Hon at the 2009 Honfest. She used
Baltimore legend Blaze Starr as inspiration for her character.
Being Top Hon means a lot of responsibility and Charlene wrote and
illustrated a book about her experiences as Bawlmer’s Best Hon.
Her book is called “My Year as Baltimore’s Best Hon” and it’s mostly a
picture book of the events Charlene attended throughout the year. David
Muse is credited as the principal photographer along with photographers
Jaime Windon and Middleton Evans. The photos are excellent.
“It started off with me documenting my year as best Hon. It was my own
yearbook,” Charlene said. “After we did so many activities, I realized
that this was more than a personal yearbook and I wanted to share it.”
She is pictured in the Dundalk 4th of July Parade, bowling in Edgemere
and she attended a benefit for Special Olympics at the Beach House in
Dundalk. Charlene is also pictured with two Hons, Rita and Heidi Moore
of Wilson Point.
Charlene told me her trip to Riverside Nursing Home in Essex was her
most memorable visit.
“When we got there, we realized that the women in the nursing home were
the real Hons from the ‘50s and ‘60s,” she said. “We took Elvis Presley
music and it really brightened their day. I had a tear run down my
On June 23, the Best Hon for 2010 was crowned, but Charlene has changed
her title to Baltimore’s Favorite Hon. She also has adopted the
nickname “Blaze Char.”
I invite everyone to meet Charlene, as she will be selling and signing
copies of her book at the Dundalk Heritage Fair on July 4 and 5. You
can purchase her book for around $40. If you can’t make it out to
Dundalk this weekend, you can order a copy of Charlene’s book at www.honcavepress.com.
Web Only Content
How much are endorsements of a candidate worth?
Some say nothing while others point out that if a voter knows nothing
about the candidates running for office, he/she will use an endorsement
as a guide to select the best candidate. With that said, I will only
include the endorsements in the Baltimore County Executive Democratic
If you made it
this far through the column, you are only reading it on the web. We
didn't have room for any politics in the paper, but I decided to put it
here on the web.
The Laborers International
Union of North America, The Teachers
Association of Baltimore County, County Seal Democratic Club,
Maryland’s Attorney General, Doug Gansler, Councilman John Olszewski,
Sr. and former Senator Mike Collins have endorsed Kevin Kamenetz. Joe
Bartenfelder has been endorsed by the Maryland State United Auto
Workers, the United Food & Commercial Workers, Baltimore County
Firefighters and Senator Kathy Klausmeier’s team (Sen. Kathy
Klausmeier, Delegates Eric Bromwell & Todd Shuler and Democratic
candidates Cal Bowman, Ruth Baisden and Bill Paulshock)
And I’m sure there are more, but I don’t need either camp sending over
any more endorsements for now. It appears to me that this race is still
wide open and the Baltimore County Democratic Party is and will be
divided until September.
Approaches for Candidates
|It’s hard to
believe but the filing date for the Maryland Board of Elections is July
6. Only two weeks left for everyone to file. It will be interesting to
see if any surprise candidates file at the last minute or if any
potential candidates back out at the last minute. At least in two
weeks, we will know who is officially running for office.
County Council Races
It’s been a few months since I wrote about the
County Council races.
Nothing has changed in the Seventh District, as Charles “Buzz” Beeler
is the only Democrat to challenge incumbent Councilman John Olszewski,
Sr. No Republican has filed at this time.
In the Sixth District, we all know about the three-way Democratic
primary between Cathy Bevins, Todd Schuler and Stephen Verch. Well, now
there is a Republican primary as Towson High School teacher and
Parkville resident Andy Peet entered the race and will face fellow
Republican Ryan Nawrocki in September. Peet’s announcement probably
doesn’t sit too well with the local Republican Party as former Governor
Bob Ehrlich endorsed Nawrocki to unite the party and to send a
formidable Republican to face the Democratic winner in November. Now
Ehrlich’s candidate needs to spend time, money and resources in a
primary instead of saving it all for November.
Towson community activist Mike Ertel officially filed for the Fifth
District seat and will face Bill’s Seafood owner Bill Paulshock in the
Democratic primary. As of now, former Perry Hall Improvement
Association President David Marks is the only candidate on the
|6/17-Can I Drive (or Wait)
|Maybe I’m a
cold-hearted person, but when I’m driving and stopped at a red light, I
don’t want people asking me for money or offering their services. At
the intersection of Merritt Boulevard and Wise Avenue in Dundalk and at
the intersection of Perry Hall Boulevard and Honeygo Boulevard near
White Marsh Mall, sometimes a group of people will go to all four
corners of the intersection and ask for money. I’ve seen churches,
charity collectors, people selling flowers and other activities at the
lights. Even though they aren’t asking for money, now the local
politicians/candidates are hanging around these traffic lights with
their signs and causing a distraction. Not only is it annoying, but
dangerous. Dangerous to me, dangerous to other drivers and dangerous to
that person. Especially when these individuals walk between traffic. If
you want our attention, buy ad space in a newspaper or on a billboard.
As a driver, it’s not always smart to roll your window down to a
stranger. I know the best thing to do is ignore the situation, but when
they knock on the window, it’s not that easy. The problem is that this
type of behavior is legal as long as they have a permit. At both these
intersections, there’s a nice wide concrete island to stand on as
traffic passes. Is there an intersection in eastern Baltimore County
with a similar problem and you would like to share it with us? E-mail
me at email@example.com.
An Update on the Seventh District House
& Senate Races
About two months ago, I wrote a preview about
the Seventh Legislative District. On the Republican side, Delegates Pat
McDonough and Rick Impallaria announced re-election plans for the House
of Delegates and Delegate J.B Jennings announced a bid for the State
Senate. With Jennings’ seat open, Republicans Jim Berndt, Marilyn
Booker, John Cromwell and Kathy Szeliga looked to fill the seat.
Kingsville resident Roger Zajdel officially joined the Republican race
last week. Two months ago, Rebecca Nelson was the only Democrat to file
for the House. Now the democrats have two more candidates, David “SKI”
Mioduszewski and James “Ward” Morrow filed in May. Mioduszewski hasn’t
made much noise, but Morrow has taken shots at McDonough and
Impallaria, calling their politics “right wing fringe issue
ideologues.” (See Politician’ s Soapbox for more.) And on her Facebook
page, Nelson called McDonough’s plan to introduce an Arizona style
immigration law in Maryland as “close-minded and hateful.” It will be
interesting to see if that type of approach will work in a district
that is considered to be conservative.
Speaking of the 7th District being too conservative, County Executive
Jim Smith said he will not be seeking the Democrat nomination for the
State Senate seat in the District. Many experts believed Smith would
have trouble beating a Republican in the conservative District. It
appears now the winner of the Republican primary between Al Redmer and
Jennings should go on to face little opposition in the General Election.
|6/10-Trying to be Fair and
Unbiased in an Election Year
|Did you miss
me? I took a break last week, and we got a bunch of calls and e-mails
asking what happened to Benstorming. Okay, we didn’t get one e-mail or
phone call, the story of my life.
I did get one phone call from someone who thought I was implying
Senator Norman Stone was too old in my May 27 column when I was talking
about his Senate race against Jordan Hadfield.
“Other than turning 75 before Election Day, Stone has a formidable
opponent in the Democratic primary with Jordan Hadfield. Some thought
the 11-term Senator might retire, but he is accepting Hadfield’s
Now I shouldn’t have wrote “Stone is accepting Hadfield’s challenge”
because Stone is the incumbent, but I never implied anything about the
Senator being too old and not being capable to perform his job. When
most Americans turn a certain age, they retire because they WANT to
retire, not because they are incapable of working.
The caller said age shouldn’t be a determining factor when someone
should retire. That’s true, but it was fair to wonder if Senator Stone
THOUGHT about retiring after 43 years of service. However, with his
re-election announcement, it sounds like the passion to serve his
community is there. Hey, more power to the Senator. I’m ready to retire
at 33, but my wife won’t let me.
The caller also criticized the local media for coverage of the Jordan
Hadfield campaign. I can’t remember exactly what the caller said, but
something like Hadfield was getting positive coverage. Now I can’t
speak for the other papers, but that’s not true with the East County Times. When Hadfield
made his announcement for the senate seat at a coffee shop in Edgemere,
we didn’t cover the event or write an article about his candidacy. We
also got invited to a Hadfield campaign fundraiser last Sunday and we
declined his invitation. (We decline all fundraiser invites.)
Now Hadfield is a good self-promoter and sends out press releases to
all the local papers. We run those releases just like we ran the
release about Stone and “Forward Together” team’s re-election plans.
The candidates that haven’t been seen in our paper or website haven’t
sent over any information. We try to be as fair and unbiased as we can,
but the old saying is true - “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
Helping Out a Fellow Columnist
Even though we are rivals for different
community papers, I still have to promote an event for fellow columnist
Anna Renault. Ravens Nest 8 will be holding a Breast Cancer Beer Pong
Tournament on Friday, June 11 from noon - 3 p.m. at the American Legion
Hall, 1331 Seling Ave. in Rosedale.
The cost is $50 per team with all proceeds going to Anna, who is an
eight-time cancer survivor. If interested, go to Bill Bateman’s
Express, 610-C Compass Road in Middle River, to receive your team’s
|5/27-Reaction to Living Next
to a Sex Offender
|Two weeks ago,
I wrote about a Perry Hall resident that placed a sign in his window
informing the public a sex offender lives in the house next door. I got
some reaction from our readers and I want to share.
Kat writes: “Basically I have to question this
guy’s sanity: putting up a sign like that, deface your own property,
you have to wonder, is this the ‘only’ issue this guy has? Why not put
up a sign for everything that bothers him. Does he even realize the
negative attention he is calling to himself? why is he being so anal
about his neighbor? (aren't u supposed to love thy
neighbor?;) so why be such a jerk, was this person or
someone close to him a victim of a sexual crime? Does this person know
the details of the case of the sex offender in question? because he
should if he feels *that* strongly about it enough to post a sign, I
bet people actually ASK him whatall the guy did! This sign-posting
behavior, in my opinion, actually reeks of crassness & points to a
rather juvenile or Neanderthal-like nature because it just seems to
generate/instigate more unnecessary negativity in a world that is
already full of it. I therefore don’t condone it.”
Tim writes: “Being a So Called Sex Offender I
must say that these so called FEEL good Laws that have been passed and
looked into are a waste of time and resources during these tough budget
times. The new law making longer sentencing is a joke cause 99 percent
or more cases are plead bargined out so this law will not do nothing
but look good for the voters during election time. The Sex Offender
list is a complete watse of time and dollars as you will read here.
After the recent kidnapping and murder of 11-year-old Sarah
Foxwell in Salisbury, an alleged sex offender by the name of Thomas J.
Leggs Jr. was charged with kidnapping and burglary. Little Sarah's body
was found badly burned on Christmas Day 2009.
Do sex offender registries really work? Consider the following:
Leggs already was listed on both the Delaware and Maryland sex offender
Leggs was one of 172 sex offenders in Wicomico County. The sheriff's
department had conducted at least seven routine checks on this
individual. Each time, he was in compliance with the law.
His criminal history, however, suggests some serious problems.
In 1997, he was convicted of a third-degree sex offense involving a
12-year-old girl and sentenced to five years, with all but six months
In 2001, Delaware registered him as a "high risk" sex offender after he
was charged with raping a 16-year-old girl on Rehoboth Beach. He served
minimal prison time.
Most recently, in October 2009, he was charged with breaking into a
home where a 21-year old female alleged she observed him standing next
to her bed at 4:10 a.m. with his shirt off and his pants down to his
Did the sex offender registry program in Delaware and Maryland work?
Only after the crime was committed did the registry possibly assist law
enforcement personnel in the apprehension of a suspect. It did not
prevent the crime.
If sex offender registries seem to be the wave of the future, should we
also demand other registries for murderers, arsonists, thieves, etc.?
Certainly, as we get tougher with laws, I don't believe any employer
will go out of their way to hire one of these offenders, do you?
If the offender then has difficulty getting a job in society, what
might he or she do with a little extra recreational time on their
Perhaps educating the public, both adults and children, to the
potential dangers and behaviors of sex offenders might be more helpful.
If convicted as a sex offender involving children, perhaps the law
should read the offender is not permitted to visit or live in a house
where there are kids. Any violations of this release condition
automatically will return the offender to prison.
I am afraid that tougher laws might sound really good and help get
people really excited and elected, but the practicality and enforcement
of them in preventing crimes in the neighborhood is slim to none.
Also, when the released prisoner has difficulty finding employment and
adjusting to society because of a name on a registry, one should not be
too surprised if that person returns to crime, sorrow visits a
different community and another murder finds its way to the headlines
of a local newspaper.”
Shirley writes: “I think we should adopt
something like what Texas does where the sign is required in the
Offender’s yard. I personally feel that once you have been convicted of
a sex crime, especially one against a child, you should no longer have
the same rights of privacy as an average citizen. They are
predators and should be clearly identified as such when it is known -
in order for people or parents to be fully aware of the dangers
nearby. Unfortunately, it’s the ones we DON’T yet know about that
pose the largest threat because they are on no one’s radar...until
AFTER they commit come heinous crime.
However, I do feel that harassing them is inappropriate and unlawful,
as long as they are not doing anything they are not legally allowed to
Sixth District Preview
Last week, members of the Sixth Legislative
District (Delegates John Olszewski, Jr., Mike Weir, Jr. and Sonny
Minnick and Senator Norman Stone) announced they’re all seeking
re-election in the Sixth Legislative District. While this does appear
as major news, it’s interesting to see that Stone is officially running
for re-election. Other than turning 75 before Election Day, Stone has a
formidable opponent in the Democratic primary with Jordan Hadfield.
Some thought the 11-term Senator might retire, but he is accepting
Hadfield’s challenge. The real winners are the voting public, as they
will have a choice in September.
As far as Olszewski, Weir and Minnick, they will face Hadfield’s
running mate Todd Crandell and Cassandra Brown Umoh in the Democratic
primary. Umoh has honestly run a non-existing campaign. She hasn’t
advertised, sent out press releases or created a website or Facebook
page. I found out her candidacy from the Maryland Board of Elections
website. The only Republican running in this district is Essex resident
Ric Metzgar, and it will be tough for an Essex resident to win in a
district that is predominantly in Dundalk. But we will find out.
|5/20-Ivy Hall Celebrates 25
Years in New Home
Ivy Hall Geriatric
Rehabilitation Center celebrates its 25th Anniversary at its current
location in Middle River. A new building for Ivy Hall opened on
May 17, 1985 on 1300 Windlass Drive. A time capsule was place in front
of the building with the instructions to open on May 17, 2010. After a
quick 25 years, it was time to open the time capsule on Monday.
the plaque under which the time capsule was buried. Pictured below is
original Ivy Hall owner Rick Cammack.
Residents and workers of Ivy Hall went outside along with original
owner Rick Cammack, who brought Ivy Hall back in 1977 and was there for
the opening of the new building in 1985. He sold the business in 2001,
but came back for the celebration.
“It was always a good facility and we tried to serve the community,”
Cammack said. “And today I see you are still serving the community.”
Ivy Hall has over five nurses that have worked on the staff for more
than 18 years. One of those nurses is Sue Hoeckel, who has worked at
Ivy Hall for 32 years.
“I have worked here 32 years and have enjoyed every moment of it,”
Hoeckel said. “I love the people and the patients. The building has
changed a lot in time, but we still work as a team.”
Narupa Toolsee is another nurse who has been at Ivy Hall for 25 years.
“I have stayed here because of the family atmosphere,” she said.
Unfortunately the time capsule was ruined. When workers dug it up,
water and mud covered over a stack of papers, but the spirit of Ivy
Hall was still strong.
“I hope everyone stays here as long as some of these ladies. It’s a
wonderful place to work,” said current Ivy Hall Administrator Larry
Cammack might have summed it up best. As he left, he told the
employees, “You all still have a love for one another.”
When you hear the words Republican Primary in
Maryland, you usually
think of one Republican that is unopposed and he/she will face a
Democrat in the General Election. But there is an interesting
Republican primary shaping up in the Eight Legislative Senate Race. Dee
Hodges and Benjamin Lawless are battling it out for the Republican
nomination to face Senator Kathy Klausmeier in November. One republican
told me that the Republicans hope Hodges beats Lawless because they
feel a woman has a better chance to beat Klausmeier. However, they feel
that Hodges will have trouble with Lawless because of his strong
personality and his service as an Iraq veteran. That race should be fun
Flag Needs to be Replaced
One of our readers (Leroy) wants to know who
takes care of the flag
near the entrance of Essex. After one acrosses Back River Bridge, there
are three red cubes on the right side that say “Essex.” On top of one
of the cubes is a flag that has deteriorated. Leroy wants to know who
is responsible for that flag because it’s time to replace it. I’m not
sure if the flag is on state property or private property, but Leroy is
correct. A new flag is needed.
|5/13-Supporting Our Troops
|If you ask the
average person if they “support our troops” all of them will say,
“sure, I support the troops,” but Irene Spatafore says there is more
than just claiming to be a supporter. She wants everyone to show their
support in the form of donations.
I did a story on Irene and her group Angels Supporting Your Troops,
Inc. back in December. It’s a group that collects items for the troops
and sends those items over to Iraq and Afghanistan, but she is having
trouble raising money to pay for her operation.
“We never had to beg for money before,” Irene said. “People send us
money and that’s great, but I need someone who will send us $25 - $100
Irene appreciates the individual citizen for giving their share but
would like to get more help from the local businesses in eastern
Baltimore County, such as the banks, car dealerships and funeral homes.
Irene sent out 120 letters asking for help and only heard from 22.
“None of the big boys want to help us,” Irene explained. “I want to
know why the funeral homes say they care about our veterans, but not
today’s soldiers fighting in the war.”
Irene and the Angels will hold a special open
house this Saturday, May
15 at their headquarters at the Sonshine Fellowship Church, 7201
Sollers Point Road in Dundalk from 2 - 6 p.m. The open house will have
a Hawaiian theme with food and snacks.
“We invite everyone to come out to show them where the supplies are
going and what we are sending our troops,” Irene added. “I want people
to see what we do.”
Irene is always collecting troop items like sunblock, ibuprofen, pairs
of socks, washcloths, gum, mints, sunflower seeds and other items. She
will be collecting donations at the open house on Saturday. For more
information about “Angels Supporting Your Troops,” call Irene Spatafore
Living Next to a Sex Offender
I’m not saying I agree or disagree, but I was
amazed when I rode by a
house in Perry Hall and saw a sign that read, “Sex Offender Lives Next
Door” with an arrow pointed to the next house. I looked the address up
online and a registered sex offender does live at that home. This leads
me to ask you if this is appropriate or not. Some would say that a sex
offender is living in a neighborhood; it’s a neighbor’s duty to warn
everyone about the sex offender. Of course, some would say that a sex
offender is already on the sex offender registry and the neighbor
doesn’t need to point out the obvious. Either way, I’m sure it’s
awkward when both neighbors go outside at the same time to get their
mail or morning paper. What do you think? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|5/6-Walsh Named 2010 CCBC Dundalk
to R. Michael Walsh III as he was named 2010 Community College of
Baltimore County, Dundalk Outstanding Teacher by the Dundalk Chamber of
Commerce during its Sixth Annual Outstanding Teacher Awards and
Recognition Dinner. Walsh has been a faculty member at CCBC-Dundalk
since 2007. Walsh teaches Speech and both intermediate and advanced
reading and vocabulary in ESOL (English for speakers of other
languages) and was nominated by F. Scott Black, dean of Liberal Arts at
“In his relatively short career on the Dundalk campus, Michael has made
a major impact on the campus and in the Dundalk community,” Black said.
“His voter registration project resulted in over 250 new registered
voters, most from the Dundalk community. He has worked with the
Greening of Dundalk, the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, the Dundalk
Renaissance Corporation, and local businesses to bring community
members on campus to share with the students and to involve students
with the Dundalk community. Michael’s most recent project is for his
Mass Communications class to develop and assist with the implementation
of a media plan for the Earth Day Festival sponsored by the Baltimore
Art and Music Project.”
East vs. West Showdown
Now that Joe Bartenfelder and Kevin Kamenetz
have officially announced and filed their candidacies for Baltimore
County Executive, it appears that the Democratic primary is going to be
an East vs. West showdown. Bartenfelder is from Fullerton and Kamenetz
is from Owings Mills. While both candidates will probably claim their
campaign is countywide, it’s hard not to look at this as a geographical
battle. When Bartenfelder announced his candidacy at Towson University
last week, the room was filled with eastside politicians. Delegates
Sonny Minnick, Mike Weir, Todd Schuler and Senators Norman Stone and
Kathy Klausmeier were in attendance. Kamenetz has the support of
westside politicians like Senator Delores Kelly of Randallstown. I
believe the only eastside politician supporting Kamenetz is Councilman
John Olszewski and I’m not sure if any westside politicians support
Bartenfelder. It will be interesting to see how the eastside and
westside citizens of Baltimore County vote in September.
Mother/Daughter Look-a-Like Contest at
In honor of Mother’s Day, Eastpoint Mall is
holding their second annual Mother/Daughter Look-a-Like Contest on
Saturday, May 8 at noon. Are you a mother with a daughter that looks
like you or vice versa? If so, you could win a $500 Eastpoint Mall
Shopping Spree and a stay at the Atlantic City Tropicana Casino &
Resort. Second place winners get a $300 shopping spree and third place
gets a $150 shopping spree at the mall. The top three will also get a
Chick-fil-A prize pack. Registration takes place in front of Burlington
Court at 11 a.m. or contestants can pre-register by picking up a
registration form at the mall Management Office or at
www.eastpointmall.com. Forms can be dropped off at the Management
Office (underneath the Food Court) or faxed to 410-284-3766. Basically
mothers and daughters will be judged on how much they look alike and
|It’s only been
years, but Chesapeake High School has had success with the VEX Robotics
program. Chesapeake just came back from the VEX Robotics World
Championships in Dallas where they finished 51st.
Chesapeake qualified for the World Championships by having two of its
teams finish in the top two for countywide championships in February
during the Baltimore County STEM Fair.
Jason Bullerman is a teacher at the school and sponsors the team. “I
don’t do all that much. It’s all of them (the students). I just sponsor
the class and watch them come up with the product,” Bullerman told me
back in March.
The VEX Robotics Design System is a part of the STEM (science,
technology, engineering and math) program, which encourages students to
persuade careers in science, technology and engineering. The students
work together to design a robot and compete with other schools.
Before the team went to Dallas, Chesapeake held a send off for the five
students. The team was greeted by Chesapeake Principal Maria Lowry,
Douglas Handy, Supervisor for the Offices of Career & Technology
Education for Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS), and Vice
President of BCPS Board of Education H. Edward Parker.
“It’s exciting to watch these students who are motivated by the
program,” Parker said. “These students stay late at night. It’s also
fun to watch them to work hard and solve problems.”
Handy told me that right now 16 of the 24 BCPS high schools have the
VEX Robotics program. He hopes to expand the program.
“My goal is have a team at every school like we have with the sport
teams,” Handy said.
County Executive Candidate Tour Comes to
The candidates running for County Executive have
been all over the
county campaigning and they will be in eastern Baltimore County for a
County Executive Candidates Educational Forum at the Middle River
Volunteer Ambulance Rescue Hall, 2000 Leland Ave. in Middle River. The
event will take place Thursday, May 6 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. The Essex-
Middle River White Marsh Chamber of Commerce and The Marine Trades
Association of Baltimore County are sponsoring the event and they have
invited candidates Joe Bartenfelder, Ken Holt and Kevin Kamenetz.
I had a chance to see these candidates three weeks ago in Perry Hall
and I encourage everyone to come out and hear what they have to say.
Admission is free and the event is open to the general public, but
pre-registration is required. Contact Janelle Gwynn at 443-317-8763 or email@example.com
by April 30.
Where are my e-mails?
A few weeks ago, I gave out my e-mail address at
and I only got one e-mail. That was from Charles “Buzz” Beeler, who is
running against John Olszewski, Sr. for the Seventh District seat. He
just told me how he feels Olszewski is not going to have a “cakewalk”
to re-election. But that’s it. I would love to hear more from our
readers. I thought more candidates running for office would e-mail me
just to let me know they are running.
Art Talent on Display in Community
It’s always great to
hear inspirational stories of our youth no matter what the age group.
This week Patapsco High School Center of the Arts student Bernadette
Szrom won first place for her mural design in the 2010
Main Street Mural Contest. The contest is sponsored by the Dundalk
Renaissance Corporation, which enlists the talents of local students in
beautifying their community. Szrom is a senior in the visual art magnet
program at Patapsco and her design depicting colorful shoppers was
chosen as the artwork painted in the windows of the former Heritage
Food Market in Center Place in old Dundalk. Szrom’s art teacher Bernie
Zienkiewicz and classmates Jacob Lichty, Ryan Pachilis and Harry Mikula
helped paint the design. On the other end of the spectrum, students at
Essex Elementary have their artwork on display too. Essex art teacher
Tracy Skeels had her students from Pre-K to Grade 5 create artwork that
can be seen at the Essex Library until April 30.
Two New Stores at Eastpoint
Eastpoint Mall got another shot in the arm last
week as the new
Shopper’s World and DSW Shoes (Designer Shoe Warehouse) stores both
opened for business on Thursday, April 15. Both stores got off to a
great start as customers filled both locations as doors opened.
Shopper’s sells a wide variety of items from clothing to furniture to
appliances to toys. DSW obviously sells men’s and women’s shoes, along
with handbags. Both stores share space at the old Steve and Barry’s
building. The arrival of the stores means that Eastpoint has filled all
its anchor stores.
Republican Candidates Start to Show
When Bob Ehrlich officially announced his
candidacy for Governor, I
wondered if the ball would get rolling for other Republican candidates.
It sure did. Last week Republican David Marks announced he was seeking
the vacant County Council Seat left by Vince Gardina in the Fifth
District and Republican Ryan Nawrocki announced his intentions to run
for County Council in the Sixth District. Nawrocki is only 26 years
old, a resident of Rosedale. Nawrocki got an endorsement from Ehrlich,
as Nawrocki served in the Ehrlich
Administration as a spokesperson for BWI Marshall Airport. The seat he
is going after is being giving up by Joe Bartenfelder, who is expected
to seek the County Executive position. Nawrocki probably won’t face
much competition in the September Republican primary but will have a
tough battle in November. Nawrocki should face the winner of the
crowded Democratic primary. Todd Schuler, Cathy Bevins and Steve Verch
will battle in September for the Democratic nomination.
More County Executive News
Nothing really new to report except that
Democratic Councilman Kevin
Kamenetz “officially” announced he is running for Baltimore County
Executive at a news conference in Randallstown on Tuesday; Republican
Ken Holt announced his bid for the office last week and Councilman and
Democrat Joe Bartenfelder is scheduled to make his announcement at the
Towson Center at Towson University on Friday, April 30 at 6 p.m.
Here is a look at
some of the artwork from Essex Elementary School students that will be
on display until the end of April at the Essex Library:
|4/15-Still Swimming and
Winning at 84
ago, I did an article on 81-year-old Bernard Zaworski. The Dundalk
resident showed off the medals he won at the Maryland Senior Olympics
as a swimmer. Bernard, now 84, stopped by the office last week. Not
only is he still swimming, he is still winning medals. Bernard won two
silver medals at the 2010 Maryland Senior Olympics on Friday, April 9
at Salisbury University. He swam the 200-meter freestyle in six minutes
and the 100-meter freestyle in three minutes.
“I told everyone this was my last time, but I don’t know. If my health
continues to hold up, I might consider it for next year,” Bernard said.
He goes to CCBC-Dundalk every morning to train in the swimming pool and
continued his training during the brutal winter months.
“When we had all that snow on the ground, my neighbor asked me where I
was going,” Bernard said. “I told him I was going to swim and he told
me I was crazy, but I love to swim.”
The End of an Era in Perry Hall
As Diane Carliner reported, Perry Hall
President David Marks is running for the County Council. While this is
big news for the political scene, it might be bigger news in Perry Hall
as it’s losing its leader after 11 years. Marks officially stepped down
as President and Vice President Dennis Robinson is the new interim PHIA
In a statement, Marks called his time with the PHIA “one of the
greatest opportunities” in his life. Marks is remembered for many
accomplishments, including the extension of Honeygo Boulevard from
Ebenezer Road to Belair Road, six new parks and, of course, the new
Perry Hall Library. I think Marks was frustrated the area never got a
new high school, but that’s probably one of the reasons he decided to
run for office.
Seventh District Preview
Right now, the Republicans hold all three
Delegate seats (Pat
McDonough, Rick Impallaria & J.B. Jennings) and the Senate seat
(Andy Harris) in the district, but there could be changes. First,
Harris is challenging Congressman Frank Kratovil in the First
Congressional District. Next, Jennings is giving up his delegate seat
to go after Harris’s Senate Seat. McDonough has ruled out a run for
County Executive in 2010 but is looking into the possibility of running
for the U.S. Senate against Ben Cardin in 2012.
Until then, McDonough is staying put and he and Impallaria are expected
to seek re-election.
With Jennings’s seat now open, many Republicans look to fill it. Jim
Berndt, Marilyn Booker, John Cromwell and Kathy Szeliga are the
Republicans running. Rebecca Nelson is the only Democrat to file for
Of course, Jennings is taking a risk by going after that senate seat,
as he will face tough opposition from former Delegate and fellow
Republican Al Redmer. In another twist, rumors keep flying around that
Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith could move from his Reisterstown
residence into the Seventh District and challenge the Jennings/Redmer
winner for Harris’s seat. Smith has the obvious name recognition and
the contribution funds (over $1.46 million according to
|4/8-The Man Behind the Flag
|I told was by
multiple sources that the man behind the flag on Back River Bridge was
an officer for the Maryland Transportation Authority Police. When I
received Mr. Bocklage’s letter, I knew it was him. Here is the letter :
“Please inform the writer of the Benstorming article that I am the one
who takes care of the flag on Back River Bridge. He is right that it
started just after 9/11.
I saw an elderly gentleman who took care of the flag originally. I do
not know his name. There came a time when I did not see him or the flag
anymore. That was about seven years ago. I decided that his tradition
should be carried on and have been doing it ever since.
It gets changed about every three months or depending on how bad the
weather was. You were right about the early part of the winter. The
pole broke in two pieces. My good friend Sam Weaver of Weavers Boatyard
saw the flag lying in the road in the snow. He stopped on the bridge
and picked it up and returned it to me along with the eagle that was on
top of the pole.
Needless to say, the 30-some inches made it impossible to get out there
and replace it. I made sure that one would be there on my birthday,
March 11. I love doing this. Sometimes people blow their horns when I
am on the bridge and it really makes be feel good. There was a time
that a funeral procession was passing by and I saw the driver of the
hearse give me a salute as he passed. I understood that he could not
blow his horn.
My name is Bill Bocklage. I live on Lance Avenue in Essex. I served
four years in the U.S. Air Force from 1967 to 1971. I became a Maryland
Toll Facilities Police officer in 1973 (Maryland Transportation
Authority Police). I retired from there in August 2009 - 35 1/2 years
was long enough for me.
Thanks for the write-up in the paper. It made me feel proud.”
The Ehrlich Effect
Now that Bob Ehrlich has announced his plans to
run for Governor, how
will that affect local Republicans? Whether you like Ehrlich or not, he
should be able to raise money, support and energy, especially in
eastern Baltimore County. Now will local Republicans gain momentum and
field quality candidates for the local County Council races and as of
now, Ric Metzgar is the only Republican running for a seat in the Sixth
District for the House of Delegates. Will others now join Metzgar?
Also, will Republican Mike Pappas still run for Governor? With Ehrlich
finally making his announcement, the rest of these questions should be
County Executive Race
Pat McDonough told me he is not running for
County Executive, but will
seek re-election in the House of Delegates. Meanwhile, former Delegate
Ken Holt said he will seek the Republican nomination and face either
Democrats Joe Bartenfelder or Kevin Kamenetz in the November election.
|4/1-Will A Bridge Be Built?
High School are still shocked over the death of Anna Stickel, a
freshman at the school. Anna was killed by an Amtrak train when she
crossed the tracks near Aero Acres in January. Her mother Tara sent a
letter to Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger asking that a bridge be built
across the tracks. Jaime Lennon, a spokesperson for the Congressman
said, “Congressman Ruppersberger supports a solution to the problem of
students having to cross the tracks. Experts at Amtrak (who owns the
property) are studying what the best solution is, whether it be a
bridge or some other type of safety mechanism. We have to see what
their recommendation is before we know what the safest, feasible
In the meantime, Ruppersberger invited speakers from the Federal
Railroad Administration to talk to the students at Kenwood High School
about railroad safety. The program is called “Operation
Lifesaver”. Conductor Terry Ludban explained the dangers of
crossing railroad trucks and played a video on railroad safety.
Ruppersberger attended the morning session, but I was to attend the
late session for freshman, which was Anna’s class. It was tough to
watch as I saw a few students running to the back of the auditorium in
tears during the railroad safety video. It appears as if Ruppersberger
favors a building of a bridge, but the decision ultimately is in the
hands of track owners - Amtrak. Tara Stickel has started a facebook
page dedicated to getting a bridge built. Go to facebook.com and type
in the search “May
you Rest in Peace
Anna Stickel” for more information.
Early Preview of Eighth District House of
The House of Delegates race in the eighth
district (covering Perry
Hall, Fullerton, Overlea and Parkville) is fun to watch because it’s
possible, but not probable, that three Democrats or three Republicans
could win. Republican Joe Boteler and Democrat Eric Bromwell look to
retain their seats, but fellow incumbent Todd Schuler (D) is giving up
his seat to go after a county council position. This creates an opening
that both Democrats and Republicans believe they can win. Of course
Democrats want that vacant seat and Boteler’s seat, while the
Republican’s want the vacant seat and Bromwell’s seat.
Cal Bowman, Nichole Kirby & Ruth Baisden (who lost by only 95
votes in 2006) are running on the Democratic side and Norma Secoura,
Rani Merryman and former Delegate John Cluster are running as
Hodges Running Against Klausmeier for Senate
Staying the Eighth District, I got e-mail from
lady named Dee Hodges. I
thought it was a letter for our “In Your Words” section; as it went on
to criticize Senator Kathy Klausmeier for her vote against Senate Bill
SB 397, an amendment named Health Care Freedom Act of 2010. As I read,
I saw Hodges was more than just an angry citizen as she is a
Republican running against Klausmeier for her Eighth District State
Mystery Man behind Flag on Bridge
I finally found out the man behind the mystery
of the Back River bridge
flag. Who is this mystery man? I’ll have his story next week.
|3/25-Old Glory Still
Flies in Essex
|The flag is
The flag on the Essex Back River Bridge on Eastern Boulevard is flying
with pride. My publisher asked me what happened to the flag on the
bridge. I went and looked and it was gone in the beginning of March. I
guess the snow was piled too high and it took out the flag and its
pole. The very next day I noticed it was back. This leads to the
question, who is responsible for this flag? I believe the flag was
placed on the bridge after 9/11 and the tradition is still alive almost
nine years later. Whoever’s in charge takes excellent care of the flag.
Whenever the Old Glory starts to fade or shows signs of deterioration,
it’s replaced with a new flag. Even the double blizzard of 2010
couldn’t stop the tradition. But who is responsible? I would love to
hear their story.
Wrestlers Have Big Hearts
Kudos to Jim Hardwich of Eastern Wrestling
Alliance (EWA) in Dundalk.
We got a call from someone stating that Hardwich and EWA gave out free
tickets to people through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I found out that
wasn’t all he does for the community. He also invited 17 people from
The Arc of Baltimore to attend last Saturday’s EWA event. Hardwick and
his wrestling organization have held fundraisers for organizations like
Toys for Tots. “I’ve always been a guy that believes in giving to the
community,” Hardwich said.
Will “Vote Them Out” Philosophy Work for
I’m not sure when the official political season
kicked off (or if it
has begun, as many of the candidates haven’t officially filed), but
some candidates are lining up for the 2010 election. Jordan Hadfield,
Ric Metzgar and Charles “Buzz” Beeler introduced themselves to the
public at the Essex COP Meeting last week and all three had a similar
message - the political system is broke and all three seem to be
playing the anti-incumbent/“I’m about change” card. Hadfield took some
shots at Senator Norman Stone and Beeler took his jabs at Councilman
John Olszewski, but both criticized the system. Hadfield criticized the
General Assembly as a whole for not passing important legislation, and
Beeler blamed the entire County Council (except Joe Bartenfelder) for
not “caring” about the citizens of Baltimore County. This election may
not be that typical opponent vs. opponent showdown. Instead, many of
these new candidates might take a “vote them out” philosophy. Will it
work? We will find out in September and November.
I mentioned how Beeler attacked the County Council except for
Bartenfelder. Interesting. With John Olszewski, Sr. endorsing Kevin
Kamenetz instead of Bartenfelder for County Executive, could Beeler
want Bartenfelder to return the favor by endorsing him over Olszewski?
It probably won’t happen. If Bartenfelder beats Kamenetz in September,
he’ll need an Olszewski endorsement for the General Election if
Bartenfelder faces a strong Republican candidate.
Palczynski - Ten Years Later
|It’s hard to
believe, but this week marks the 10-year anniversary of the Joseph
Palczynski incident. For those who were too young to remember or didn’t
live in the area, Palczynski was accused of killing four people in
eastern Baltimore County. The first three killings took place as part
of a triple homicide in Bowleys Quarters when George and Gloria Shenk
and David Meyers were shot to death after Palczynski tried to kidnap
his estranged girlfriend Tracy Whitehead on March 7, 2000. The fourth
murder happened in Chase when Jenifer McDonel was caught in a crossfire
as Palczynski was trying to carjack another car and not McDonel’s car
on March 8.
The story made national headlines when Palczynski took hostage of
Whitehead’s family on Lange Street in Dundalk for four days starting
March 18. The situation ended on March 21 with Palczynski being shot to
death in the home by Baltimore County Police. There was a manhunt by
police and a community in lockdown as and everyone was thinking, where
is he going to strike next? Can’t believe it’s been a decade.
Kamenetz Gets Another East Side Supporter
Although he hasn’t announced his candidacy,
Councilman Kevin Kamenetz has picked up another east side supporter for
the Baltimore County Executive race. Essex resident and long-time
Senator Michael J. Collins announced his support and is encouraging
Kevin Kamenetz to run for County Executive. This comes two weeks after
Councilman John Olszewski, Sr., also supported Kamenetz to run for
County Executive. Kamenetz is from the west side and obviously needs
big political supporters here on the east side. Well, he’s getting them.
Four Candidates in Essex
The Essex COP wants you to meet the candidates
for this year’s election. They are calling it a “Meet and Greet.” They
have invited candidates and invite you to attend their meeting on March
18 at 7 p.m. at the Essex School Cafeteria. The list didn’t include any
incumbents, just challengers. I guess they want to introduce these
gentlemen to the Essex community.
Guests include: Ric Metzgar, a Republican; Democrat Todd Crandell who
will seek the Sixth District Delegate seat held by Sonny Minnick, John
Olszewski, Jr., and Mike Weir; Jordan Hadfield who will challenge
Senator Norman Stone for his Senate in the Sixth District; and Charles
“Buzz “ Beeler who is challenging Councilman John Olszewski, Sr., for
his Seventh District County Council seat.
Metzgar Reschedules Announcement
Speaking of Metzgar, he will officially announce
his candidacy for the Maryland House of Delegates in the Sixth
District. The event was scheduled for last Saturday, but it was rained
out. He will hold a ceremony this time on Friday, March 19 at 6 p.m. at
his new office, located at 531B Eastern Blvd. in Essex.
So what do you think of the column? Do you love
it, hate it or don’t care about it? Send your comments by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|3/11-A World Record at the
Perry Hall/White Marsh Town Fair
|With the Perry
Hall/White Marsh Town Fair moving to the Honeygo Village Center,
organizers hope to set a record this summer. I’m not talking about a
local record, but a world record. Actually a “Guinness Book of World
Records.” To put the 2010 Town Fair “on the map,” The Perry Hall-White
Marsh Town Fair Committee wants ideas on how to get into the record
books. They want your help, but they have three requests: “the contest
should involve as little physical space as possible, the contest should
not be dangerous, nor should it involve extreme noise or pyrotechnics
and the contest should engage as many people as possible at the fair
itself.” E-mail ideas with your name and number to David Marks at email@example.com
by Monday, March 22. Go to the www.guinnessworldrecords.com
to determine what may or not qualify.
Meet Henry at Gerebeck’s
Those who shop at Geresbeck’s
Food Mart at 2109
Eastern Blvd. in
Hawthorne might recognize Henry Creasy. He has been at the grocery
store for 15 years. Henry is the guy who handles the shopping carts.
“All the people who shop here are nice. I love the customers. The
management is also nice, especially my boss, Mr. Ken,” Henry said.
Even though he is 76 and his wife wants him to stop, Henry plans to
keep working at Geresbeck’s as long as his health allows him.
“I’m not thinking about it (retirement). I don’t want to stop,” he
added. “The job keeps me in shape and keeps me healthy. I would be
bored if I didn’t work.”
Henry keeps busy with his eight children and 13 grandchildren. As I
left, I told Henry good luck and maybe he will be working for another
15 years at Geresbeck’s. He laughed and said, “Hey, you never know.”
An Interesting County Council Race
With Joe Bartenfelder likely to run for County
Executive, his seat is
open and an interesting race could develop on the Democratic side. In
the Sixth Councilmanic District (which consists of Overlea, Fullerton
& Middle River), Delegate Todd Schuler is running against Cathy
Bevins from the Baltimore County Government. Schuler, an Overlea
resident, has decided not to run for a second term for the House of
Delegates in the Eighth District, but has name recognition. Bevins, a
Middle River resident, is known throughout the county as a member of
the Jim Smith administration. She shouldn’t have any trouble raising
money and will compete with Schuler.
Metzgar Running for Delegate
Ric Metzger, a Republican, will announce his
candidacy for the Maryland
House of Delegates in the Sixth District. He will hold a ceremony
Saturday, March 13 at noon at his new office, located at 531B Eastern
Blvd. in Essex. Metzgar lost the bid for the same office in 2006 when
he ran on a republican ticket with Paul Blitz and Steve Dishson. Blitz
said he is not running and I don’t believe Dishon has expressed
interest in running for 2010.
|3/4-New Column, New County
& New Stores
|Welcome to the
edition of “Benstorming.” As many of you may know or maybe don’t care,
I’ve been a reporter at the East County Times for the past three years.
I’ve lived in eastern Baltimore County my whole life. Born and raised
in Dundalk, I’m now a resident of Perry Hall. I’ve been married to my
beautiful wife Mary for almost six years and we have two wonderful
children, Drew and Emily. I’m a graduate of Patapsco High School, CCBC
and Towson University. Don’t worry, I’m not going to be one of those
columnists who talks about his personal life, but I decided we need a
columnist for the paper. There are so many great stories in eastern
Baltimore County and only so much space. This column will hopefully
give our readers an opportunity to read stories about the local citizen
who just turned 100 to this year’s election rumors and news.
2010 County Executive Race
Let’s start off the column with a political
bang. Councilman John
Olszewski, Sr. (D-7) called us members of the press to make a huge
announcement. He is “urging” Councilman Kevin Kamenetz (D-2) to run for
the Baltimore County Executive position this year.
“I think Kevin will get out and share his vision with the public and
show his leadership abilities. And at the end of the day, I think that
is what people will look for in their next County Executive,” Olszewski
said about Kamenetz.
Olszewski’s announcement is not an official endorsement because
Kamenetz hasn’t declared his candidacy. Kamenetz promises a formal
announcement in the next 40 days.
Of course, County Executive Jim Smith can’t seek a third term and this
year’s race is wide open. As far as Olszewski, his announcement is huge
because it ends the possibility of him seeking the County Executive
position and it’s a blow to Councilman Joe Bartenfelder (D-6), who is
also expected to run in the County Executive race.
On the Republican side, Delegate Pat McDonough (R-7) is contemplating a
run for County Executive, but told me he wouldn’t commit to a decision
until after the General Assembly Session in April. With the county
facing a $150 million deficit, does anybody really want to be the next
Seventh Councilmanic District Race
Olszewski’s announcement is bad news for Seventh
Charles “Buzz” Beeler as Olszewski will likely try to reclaim his seat
for a fourth term. Although expect Beeler, a former Baltimore County
Police Officer, to continue his candidacy against Olszewski, as a
Is the economy turning around? Who knows, but
the addition of large
retail stores is a good sign for local jobs. Kohl’s Department Store
opened its doors in Middle River on Sunday and the Baltimore Sun
reported that Forever 21 would be the latest anchor store at White
Marsh Mall. Forever 21 will fill the vacant Boscov store that’s been
empty since 2008. Now if we could only get some retailers to move into
the vacant buildings at the Diamond Point Plaza near Back River.