POLITICAL ROUNDUP
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 13:04
Two longtime pols plan quiet Tuesday
 
 
Stone, Minnick both not on ballot for first time in decades
 
by Bill Gates

    There’s a state election next week, and for the first time since John F. Kennedy was president, Norman R. Stone’s name is not on the ballot.
    For the first time in over 52 years, Stone didn’t have to do any fund-raising. Didn’t have to do any campaigning. Come election night, he won’t have to watch the numbers coming in to determine if he’ll continue to represent Dundalk-Edgemere in the state legislature.
    Stone, 78, who won his first election in 1962 and hasn’t lost since, announced his retirement last year and stuck to it.
    Come Tuesday night, he’s just another political junkie waiting to see who wins.
  
“I miss it, of course,” Stone said last week. “But there just comes a time when you have to decide it’s been long enough. It was very difficult for me to admit that.
    “Fifty-two years is a long time.”
    It pales in comparison to how long Stone held office, but this will also be the first election night in a long time that Joseph “Sonny” Minnick will be able to just kick back and watch, stress-free.
    Minnick, 81, was first appointed to the state legislature as a delegate in 1988. He lost a bid for election in 1990 – by six votes – and ran again in 1994.
    He won, and has won every election since.
    “It’s a good feeling,” Minnick said of no longer running for office. “I just sit back, let everyone else worry about getting out, talking to the people, standing on street corners waving at traffic, all that jazz.”
    Minnick said he has been getting “all kinds of calls” asking for his support in the election, but has decided to not back anyone in the primary.
     “I have too many friends, and I’m not slighting anyone,” he said. “Whoever wins the Democratic nominations, I’ll back.”
    Stone has publicly endorsed Del. John Olszewski Jr., who is running for Stone’s old job as state senator from the 6th District.
    Olszewski is running against Russ Mirabile for the Democratic nomination.
    “He’s a good guy, a good legislator,” Stone said of Olszewski.
    Minnick did mention that he “generally” supports Olszewski’s “Our Team” ticket, which features Olszewski, incumbent Del. Michael Weir Jr. and House of Delegates candidates Eric Washington and Ed Crizer.
    While Minnick is relieved to be out of the game, Stone feels differently.
    “I miss campaigning, I really do,” Stone said. “I did enjoy it. But it gets tough at times, and it gets tougher every time you run.
    “I’m going to miss the legislature, the people there.”
    Minnick said he will miss campaigning “like a toothache.”
     “When I gave my farewell speech on the House floor, I didn’t want to pick anyone out,” he said. “I won’t miss all the other stuff that goes on down there, but I will miss the people, the friends I made down there in 23 years. But I won’t miss the legislature.”
    Stone may spend election night at the Ironworker’s Hall, watching the results come in, depending on how he feels.
    He was a little under the weather as of last week, with a “cough and a low-grade fever.”
    But he had a flu shot, so Stone didn’t think it was a serious illness.
    Minnick said he will spend election night “like an average citizen, watching it on television.”
    But the Ironworker’s Hall is close to his home, so he “might ride down to [Olszewski’s] headquarters, see how it’s going.”
    Minnick’s brother Dan served in the House of Delegates from 1967 to 1982. Thus, Minnicks have represented the Dundalk-Edgemere area in the state legislature for 37 of the past 47 years.
    Sonny, however, believes he will be the last Minnick in his family to do so.        
    “It’s been a great run,” he said. “I want to thank all of my supporters, the voters who trusted my judgment over the years. I appreciate it. And I’ll still be in Dundalk, supporting the community.”
 
 
Electioneering issues arise at Dundalk early voting site
 
 
by Ben Boehl

    It is not too often that Democrats and Republicans find themselves on the same side of a dispute — especially when it comes to elections — but candidates of all stripes were united in their desire to campaign outside the early voting location at the North Point Public Library.
    Especially once employees of the adjacent Merritt Park Shopping Center started taking their signs.
    Patty Zajdel, wife of Republican House of Delegates candidate Roger Zajdel, told The Eagle that she arrived at the library and was told she could not electioneer.
    “We are not allowed to do anything. We can’t stand there or hand out literature,” Zajdel said. “There is no spot for the candidates.”
    Zajdel said the problem was that all electioneering must be done at least 100 feet away from the library, as is standard with all polling facilities, but she pointed out that the 100-foot limit pushes campaign workers onto Merritt Park Shopping Center property.
    Regional Management, which manages the site, has banned campaign activities on the shopping center property.
    Jake Mohorovic, a Democrat running for the House of Delegates, said he was setting up his signs the night before early voting and was greeted by a Regional Management employee who told him not to place any signs.
    “I was told I had to take down the signs. It is private property, but you think they would tolerate a little campaigning,” Mohorovic said.
    The problem was quickly resolved when Donna J. Duncan, Assistant Deputy Administrator for Election Policy at the Maryland State Board of Elections said campaign activity will be moved away from the shopping center property.
    “Apparently, the shopping center is under new management and is not permitting electioneering,” Duncan wrote in an e-mail to The Eagle.
    “Accordingly, the electioneering line will be moved to the library property.” 
    Ed Pedrick of the Ed Crizer campaign complimented  the Board of Elections for resolving the problem.
    “The election workers were very polite. They did a good job coming out and explaining [the situation]to us and did a good job of working it out,” Pedrick said.
    However, once the new boundaries were established, there was still some controversy as signs placed in the parking lot were removed by Regional Management for being on the shopping center property.
    Candidates and workers scrambled to retrieve their signs. Kristen Long, who is working for her father Bob Long’s House candidacy as well as David Craig’s campaign for governor, said she was not allowed to retrieve Craig’s GOP rival Larry Hogan’s sign because it was a violation of campaign laws.
    One Regional Management worker told the candidates that he was the “middle man” and was just doing his job.
    Peter Grose, vice president of Regional Management said that the shopping center is private property and it has been the decision of Regional Management not to allow any political signs on the property.
    “We are trying to make this reasonable. The library is entitled to hold early voting, but it has been our policy not to allow signs,”
    Many candidates said they were able to place signs along the shopping center during the last local election in 2010, but Regional Management did not take over the property until 2011.
    Grose said he visited the polling site to explain the rules to the candidates.
    “I think everyone is okay now, since they now know what the rules are,” Grose added.
    “The policy is for unattended materials. Trailers [with political messages] and signs are not allowed on our property and need to stay at the library.”
    Zajdel said the campaigns were able to adjust  and said she is happy that early voting has brought Republicans and Democrats on the same side.
    “We are all working together. We have been sharing food and helping each other,” Zajdel said.
 
 
Republicans hold last meet-and-greet
 
 
GOP prepares for contested House primary
 
by Ben Boehl

    As members of the Republican Party prepare for their first seriously contested primary on Tuesday, some members of the GOP got together for a meet-and-greet hosted by House of Delegates candidate Dan Liberatore at his Uncle Eddie’s restaurant on June 13.
    Liberatore was joined by House candidates Bob Long, Ric Metzger and Roger Zajdel.
    John Salling, who is running unopposed for the Republican nomination for state Senate, was also on hand, as were Tony Campbell and George Harman, the two Republicans running for county executive.
    With nine Republicans running for three House slots, GOP candidates are jockeying for position in the closing days of the campaign.
    Metzgar said that unlike some of the other Republicans running for the House, he has been active in the community the last four years, adding that it is important to send the right candidates to face the Democrats in November.
    “We can completely sweep out the Democrats in District 6,” Metzgar said.
    Liberatore thanked the candidates for coming to his event and said the reason he decided to run for office is that he is good at solving problems.
    “I want to go down to Annapolis to get things done and get out,” Liberatore said, asserting that he doesn’t want to make a career out of politics.
    Bob Long, widely regarded as among the favorites in the GOP primary, said he wants the party united after June 24.
    “After the primary, we need to get together,” Long said.
    “I ask you to support myself and the other candidates. We have good quality candidates.”
     Bob Schweitzer, a candidate for the Republican Central Committee, agreed with Long that the party must unite after June 24 to focus on winning the three delegate seats.
    “When the primary is over, the other work begins. Not the real work, but the other work,” Schweitzer said.
    “After the primary, we have to work together and kick the Democrats out of Annapolis.”
 
 
County Seal club holds latest Democratic forum
 
 
Focus is on  candidates in House race
 
by Ben Boehl

    Getting all of the 11 Democrats running for the 6th District House of Delegates seats together at one time has proven to be a difficult task.
    The County Seal Democratic Club held a forum on June 9 that was open to all Democrats running for the House of Delegates, the state Senate and County Council, and while the event did not attract all of the Democratic House hopefuls, the County Seal event did gather more of them than have previous events.
    Moderated by New 7th District Democratic Civic Club president Ron Bowers, the forum was attended by five Democratic House candidates — incumbent Del. Mike Weir Jr., his ticketmates Eric Washington and Ed Crizer, former delegate Jake Mohorovic and former state police deputy superintendent Larry Harmel.
    Also on hand were Del. John Olszewski Jr., who is running for state Senate, and council hopefuls Joe DiCara, Ron Yeatman, Brian Weir and Scott Holupka.
    (Buddy Staigerwald, the fifth Democrat in the race, said he had another obligation that night.)
    Bowers questioned candidates about changes to marijuana laws and proposals to bring jobs to the Sparrows Point area.
    All five Democratic House candidates in attendance said they are against the legalization of marijuana. Crizer and Washington said they supported the General Assembly’s decision to decriminalize marijuana, allowing offenders to be fined instead of prosecuted.
    “I’ve seen cases where students were caught with marijuana, but I don’t want that to affect their career,” Washington said on why he supports decriminalization instead of total legalization.
    Mohorovic, Harmel and Weir said they did not support the decriminalization bill.
    “Marijuana is a stepping stone, and I voted against decriminalization,” Weir explained. He voted against the bill in the House during this year’s session.
    “Too many have tried it and are probably no longer with family as they moved on to other [drugs],” Weir said.
    Mohorovic and Harmel both agreed with Weir that marijuana could lead to stronger drugs.
    On job creation, both Weir and Washington said they believe that the economy is getting better and are hopeful new jobs will come to the Sparrows Point area.
    “I think we are at a point we can have a renaissance and a new birth,” Washington said. “It can be a new renaissance for the whole area.
    Crizer said he is not optimistic about Sparrows Point, questioning the work of Hilco Industrial, the liquidator  of the Sparrows Point steel mill property.
    “I don’t think Hilco has been forthcoming. We have not seen a clean-up plan from Hilco,” Crizer said.
    Mohorovic explained that he wants to see a clean, green industry at the site, noting that the steel mill provided good pay but caused workers and the community health problems.
    Mohorovic added that local business associations need to be involved in trying to secure an industry for Sparrows Point.
    “We need the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development here in Baltimore County. They are not here for us,” Mohorovic said.
    “We need the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, Millers Island-Edgemere Business Association and the Route 40 Business Association [to get involved with Sparrows Point].”
    Harmel agrees that the community needs help from outside sources to help lure in businesses for Sparrows Point and said that includes the county executive and the governor.
    Olszewski was the only Democratic candidate for state Senate at the event. He said that he voted in favor of the marijuana decriminalization bill but does not support outright legalization of marijuana.
    Olszewski added that Sparrows Point is in a great location near rails, highways and deep water, and said the Port of Baltimore can help with development at Sparrows Point.
    “The plan at Sparrows Point starts at Coke Point,” Olszewski said, explaining that the port is looking at purchasing Coke Point as a site to contain material dredged from local waterways.
    The other Democrat in the Senate race is Russ Mirabile, who said he was invited to the event, but had not received another letter with the list of questions.
    “They never sent me the letter. They were trying to protect [Olszewski],” Mirabile claimed.
 
 
Senate candidate Olszewski presents jobs plan
 
 
Focus of plan is on Coke Point, port expansion
 
by Ben Boehl

    With jobs and economic development among the issues at the top of many Dundalk-area voters’ agendas, Del. John Olszewski Jr. last week introduced a new plan to his state Senate campaign platform — a 10-point jobs plan for southeast Baltimore County.
    “The plan includes job training, tax reform, and educational and infrastructure investments, as well as support the structures and a targeted priority area in Sparrows Point to continue connecting people with meaningful work and good-paying jobs,” Olszewski said.
    The first part of the plan calls for tackling the stormwater management fee known as the “rain tax.” Olszewski has been criticized for voting for the measure, but he noted that the legislation was a necessary response to a federal mandate and that local governments were given the latitude to create their own plans for its implementation.
    Olszewski noted that businesses are being overly burdened by the stormwater management fee enacted by the county and said he wants to introduce a plan by which credits would be given to residents and businesses that are taking steps on their own to reduce stormwater run-off. 
    Olszewski also said he planned to work with the next councilman to fix the rate structure in Baltimore County that he said is hurtful to businesses.
    “People have been critical of me for voting for the “rain tax,” but I am not responsible for Baltimore County’s implementation of their stormwater management fee,” Olszewski said.
    “The way the [county handled the federal mandate by passing it on the businesses] is not what we intended.”
    Olszewski’s plan goes on to promote partnerships between the public and private sectors, as well as supporting and replicating the Small Business Incubator, streamlining regulations and permitting processes to make it easier for businesses to do business, supporting the creation of ombudsman positions that can walk people through the process, having a top-notch educational system and pipeline of workers, finding ideas so the state and county can collaborate to retain and recruit the best employers, creating a tax structure that supports and encourages innovation and success, especially for local small businesses, continuing to develop new housing stock that attracts a skilled workforce and offers modern, appealing communities for professionals that will grow the area tax base and restoring Sparrows Point as a center of economic activity.
    Olszewski said the plan for Sparrows Point includes having the Port of Baltimore clean up the Coke Point site with an eye toward creating jobs in the area.
    “It is a win-win. We would clean up the most contaminated [site on the Sparrows Point mill site] and it would become a job-creation hub,” Olszewski said.
    Other components of the Olszewski’s Sparrows Point plan include attracting “green” and advanced manufacturing to rebuild Sparrows Point aging infrastructure and put people to work without polluting the environment.
    Olszewski also pointed to the possibility of using the area for shipping, transportation and logistics operations that can take advantage of the area’s proximity to highways, rail lines and deep-water shipping lanes.
    As during the steel era, those new jobs and businesses could create new markets for local businesses and contractors and could generate demand for housing in the area, Olszewski said.
    He stressed that community input should be sought in any development plan, as well as environmental controls, local hiring, and the inclusion of green space.
    Olszewski is being opposed in the Democratic primary for the Senate seat by Russ Mirabile, who said in an April Eagle profile that he would not reveal his job plan until six months after he was elected.
    [In the face of negative reaction to that statement, Mirabile did subsequently describe his proposals in greater detail.]
    With his own plan in hand, Olszewski appeared to take a shot at his opponent at a County Seal Democratic Club forum.
    “You don’t have to wait six months after I get elected to hear my plan,” Olszewski said. 
 
 
Charlesmont resident votes for first time at age 73
 
 
Early voting ends June 19
 
by Ben Boehl

    Every election brings out a new wave of first-time voters. Most are as young as 18 (or even 17, if they turn 18 before the November election), and some might be middle aged.
    Charlesmont resident Annelissee Jackson is voting for the first time at the age of 73.
    Jackson came to the United States from Germany in October 1963 at the age of 22. She finally became a U.S. citizen last year and is now eligible to vote.
    “It is not that I didn’t want to vote; it is that I never had the time,” Jackson said. “I was always working and making a living.” 
    As an immigrant who followed the traditional path to citizenship, she said she is upset that the government has been “helping” illegal immigrants. She stated she had to work to support herself and her family over the years.
    “I don’t like what is going on in the country,” Jackson said.
    Jackson stated she is a registered Republican and is also against the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 that was passed in Maryland by the General Assembly
    “I believe in the Second Amendment,” Jackson said.
    She arrived at the North Point Public Library on Monday, June 16, for early voting. Although she arrived at 9 p.m., she stood outside in the heat as she waited for the polls to open at 10 a.m.
    Jackson eventually cast her ballot and said she enjoyed the experience of being a voter for the first time.
    “It went well, but I’m glad it is over,” she said with a laugh.
    According to Jeff Stevens of the Baltimore County Board of Elections, the North Point Library has seen more voters than the Back River Community Center early voting site.
    Although Dundalk voters can vote at any of the eight early voting sites across the county, North Point and Back River are the only two early voting locations within the 6th Legislative District.
    On the first day of the early voting period — Thursday, June 12 — the county board of elections reported that 339 voters cast their ballots at North Point (261 Democrats and 77 Republicans), while Back River attracted 115 voters  (84 Democrats and 31 Republicans).
    There were 277 voters (204 Democrats and 72 Republicans) on Friday, June 13 at North Point and 106 people (86 Democrats and 38 Republicans) at Back River.
    Voting declined over the weekend as North Point reported 125 voters on Saturday and 79 voters on Sunday. Back River had 26 voters on Saturday and 31 voters on Sunday.
    (All figures were provided by the county and may not be mathematically accurate.)
    The early voting period ends on Thursday, June 19. Regular voting at the full slate of polling places will be held on Tuesday, June 24.