Wednesday, 26 March 2014 13:25
Local political news from The Eagle's Ben Boehl
With election field set, talk of possible tickets begins
Olszewski says no official ticket formed — so far
by Ben Boehl

    The primary election is less than three months away, and there are five Democrats running for the Baltimore County Council, 11 Democrats and nine Republicans running for the House of Delegates, and the typical long list of candidates running for Democratic and Republican central committees.
    With all these candidates, could we see some tickets form before the primary?
    Del. John Olszewski Jr., the frontrunner in this year’s state Senate race, is rumored to be in the process of forming a ticket.
    In 2006 and 2010, Olszewski was part of the local Democratic incumbent ticket headed by Sen. Norman Stone and also including delegates Joseph “Sonny” Minnick and Michael Weir.
    With Minnick and Stone retiring, and Olszewski  — the top local vote-getter in 2010 — in a position to possibly influence the other local Democratic races, talk of an Olszewski-led ticket has begun — and so has some jockeying for a spot on that ticket, according to The Senate hopeful.
    There have been multiple reports that House candidate and long time Olszewski family ally Ed Crizer would be on the ticket along with Weir, but it is uncertain who would be the third House candidate.
    Crizer said he would like to be on an Olszewski ticket, but said that a ticket has not been confirmed.
    Olszewski told The Eagle that he has been approached by candidates, but he is currently not endorsing anyone but Weir.
    “Several candidates have reached out to me, and I have met with them, but no formal tickets have been formed,” Olszewski said. 
    “As reported before, however, I have committed to and am supporting Del. Weir for re-election.”
     There appears to be an alliance in the making in the C.O. “Bud” Staigerwald camp. The County Council hopeful is rumored to be considering forming a ticket with House of Delegates candidate Anna Pearce and Democratic Central Committee candidate Carl Persiani. He is known to have strong ties with both, but Staigerwald said no ticket has been created.
    “There is no ticket. Anna, Carl and I are strong supporters of each other, but we are not forming an official ticket,” he said.
    The retirements of three of the five local incumbents — and another seeking a different office — has opened the door to a potentially messy primary season.
    Observers have suggested that an Olszewski-led ticket would unify Democrats and help the party get ready for what is expected to be a tougher-than-ever battle with local Republicans in November.
    Others argue that the 11 Democrats running for the House and the five running for council should have a level playing field, with the winners coming together to form a ticket after the June primary.
    House of Delegates candidate Eric Washington said he is not sure if there will be any tickets formed within the party.
    “I don’t know if there will be a ticket,” Washington said. “Sometimes it helps, other times it does not make a difference. It is hard to tell.”
    Washington did say that if a Democratic ticket is formed, he believes he would be an attractive choice.
    He said he was recently endorsed by The Maryland State Education Association, Teachers Association of Baltimore County and Education Support Professionals of Baltimore County.
    “I’m sure my name has to be mentioned in the conversation. I’ve got a lot of endorsements,” Washington noted.
    On the Republican side as well, the question of forming tickets has arisen, but there is no definite action on the horizon.
    County Council candidate Todd Crandell and state Senate candidate Johnny Ray Salling are running unopposed, but nine Republicans are running for the House of Delegates, creating the possibility of a chaotic primary.
    Nonetheless, it does not appear likely that a Republican ticket will be formed until after the primary.
    Bob Long said he is unaware of any tickets forming and fellow House of Delegates candidate Robin Grammer told The Eagle he does not believe any alliances will be formed before the primary and does not think ticket-forming will help the party.
    “The candidates that are running all want better for their community. Their run for office shows they are willing to fight for it,” Grammer said.
    “That is something we should embrace.  The only thing we will accomplish by forming a slate is disenfranchising members of our community.”
Harmel brings police background to House race
Essex resident touts his law enforcement leadership
by Ben Boehl

    In the crowded race for the House of Delegates in the 6th District, Larry Harmel aims to stand out both as a fresh face and as an experienced one.
    Harmel, a retired Maryland State Police deputy superintendent and former chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA) police, lives in Essex and said he has ties to the area as a former coach and president of the Essex Little League and a member of its Hall of Fame.
    Harmel graduated from Kenwood High School in 1963 and was inducted into the Professional Achievement and Athletic Hall of Fame at the school.
    “This is my home. I was born and raised in this area,” Harmel told The Eagle in a recent interview.
    “With the right kind of leadership and purpose in Annapolis, we can build our community and achieve new levels of prosperity.”
    Harmel spent 31 years with the Maryland State Police, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and finally became deputy superintendent.
     He later served as chief of the MdTA police. He left that post to become a full-time member of the senior staff of the renowned Johns Hopkins University School of Education, Division of Public Safety Leadership.
    He currently serves as executive director of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association.
    Harmel said he thought about running for the House of Delegates in 2010, but admitted that this year’s race seemed more attractive with two open seats.
    He described himself as a political newcomer nonetheless well-prepared for office by virtue of his career.
    “No I don’t have political experience, but we need a fresh face in there,” Harmel explained.
    “I have gone to Annapolis as executive director of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association to testify on public safety. I have gone down and testified on behalf of a bill and have given testimony against a bill. I have experience in Annapolis and how the process works.”
    Harmel said he has had interaction with Essex and Dundalk communities through his work with police agencies and believes he is ready to serve the 6th District. 
    Calling himself a conservative Democrat, Harmel said he is against tax increases and wonders if the proposed minimum wage increase will hurt small businesses.
    “We have a lot of small businesses in Dundalk and Essex that make a small profit. [With a wage increase] on a small profit, the businesses can’t afford it,” Harmel said.
    “Sure, an increase might be needed for that worker, but it needs to be done [through an incremental process] that doesn’t hurt business.”
    Harmel said he is committed to using his experience in law enforcement to speak out on public safety, but realizes a major focus of this year’s election will be jobs.
    “We need to bring jobs here. I used to be a metallurgist at Bethlehem Steel, so I know how important it was down there,” Harmel added.
    The Essex resident is one of 11 Democrats seeking the three House seats.
    Harmel said he is encouraged that so many people have come out for those seats because it shows that people want to make  a positive difference in the community.
    He said he has heard about the possibility of Del. John Olszewski forming a ticket but has not heard anything official.
    “That hasn’t been decided,” Harmel said.
    “That is not up to me and is usually decided by the [state Senate candidate],  but I would be a valuable candidate.”
Pearce enters delegate race as only female candidate
Paralegal says she will “stand up” for locals
by Ben Boehl

    Anna Pearce is one of 11 Democrats running for the House of Delegates — and 30 overall seeking public office in the local races — and she is the only female in the field.
    “I have gotten a lot of support, and not just from female voters,” Pearce said. “I follow through if I can help a person get something done. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, and I’m not a career politician.”
    Pearce does have experience in politics, however, working on the campaigns for Judges Robert Dugan, Pat Cavanaugh, Jan Alexander, Sherrie Bailey and Ann Brobst. 
    She has also served as an officer of both the Riverside Democratic Club and the 6th District Democratic Club in Rosedale.
    Pearce also has been a paralegal for over 20 years and said that she has helped people over the years.
    She gave an example of her assistance to former Bethlehem Steel workers by filling out their pension forms and working with RG Steel workers in bankruptcy and foreclosure proceedings.
    Pearce said those were tough moments in that person’s life, but she was able to guide them through those tough times with compassion.
    “I talked to many of those workers, and they had great ideas how to save the plant, but they said no one listened,” Pearce noted.    
    “We need jobs. We can turn Sparrows Point into an opportunity for jobs. And we need good paying jobs that people can live off of.”
    Pearce said she is a supporter of county council candidate C.O. “Bud” Staigerwald and Democratic central committee candidate Carl Persiani, but the three are not forming a ticket.
    With all the controversy surrounding the North Point Government sale last year, Pearce wonders why the government does not listen to its constituents. She said there needs to be a change in the government and she would be someone who would “stand up” for the citizens of the 6th District.
    “I’m the best candidate. I’m going to do the best I can for my constituents,” Pearce said.
    “I do not know all the answers, but I’m going to talk to the people that will be affected by the law.”
    On education, Pearce said she wants more done for students at all schools.
    She pointed out that  some schools have ample resources while other schools are not as fortunate. She gave the example of air conditioning.
    “We need to get air conditioning in all those schools. We need to support children at all the schools,” Pearce said.
    According to Pearce,  she is not upset with the stormwater management fee known as the “Rain Tax” but objects to the way it was passed down from the state to the counties.
    “It is federally mandated and we are stuck with it, but it is not fair,” she said.
    “It has to be balanced better, and we need a better formula. We need to know where that money is going.”
    Pearce is currently a Dundalk resident but has ties to the other half of the 6th District, as she grew up in Middle River and is a graduate of Kenwood High School.
    She said she is proud that Dundalk and Essex are communities where, she said, most people are longtime residents and most of them know each other.
    “We are one big extended family. Our grandparents know each other and our kids grew up together. The citizens here don’t move,” Pearce explained.
Business owner Zajdel running for House of Delegates
Commodore Hall owner seeks GOP slot
by Ben Boehl

    Roger Zajdel says that the General Assembly has harmed small businesses across the state, which is why he has decided to run for the House of Delegates in the 6th District.
    “Small business in Maryland is becoming an endangered species. We can’t compete with all the rules and regulations coming from Annapolis,” Zajdel explained.
    The Republican has been the owner of the Commodore Hall on Old Eastern Avenue for the last 32 years. He said business is getting tougher thanks to fees and regulations.
    Zajdel said that the controversial stormwater management fee, popularly known as the “rain tax,” is taking a toll on his business and that as a result, he is barely making a profit.
    He questions whether the “rain tax” is necessary, pointing out that the “flush tax” on sewer and septic system use was supposed to help the Chesapeake Bay, and now there is a “rain tax.”
    Zajdel said he wants to know when it will end.
    “It seems like they are finding new rates and are causing more problems. Instead, they have to find solutions.”
    Zajdel said he wants to provide a business owner’s perspective because he thinks there are too many House members who do not know how the passage of laws can affect a business.
    “They don’t have to worry about making payroll and providing insurance,” Zajdel said. “We need someone who knows what it takes to keep businesses going.”
    Zajdel said he is also concerned about government’s response to its citizens.
    He referred to Baltimore County Government’s handling of the North Point Government Center sale and how the public was against the move, but county still went though with the sale.
    Zajdel is one of nine Republicans running for the House, but he said he sees the competition as a good sign.
    “It is encouraging and it is surprising,” Zajdel said. “It is good to see the young people involved, but it is more than party. We have to bring a philosophy down to Annapolis.”
    Zajdel ran for the House of Delegates in the 7th District in 2010. He is moving into his late father’s Essex home, making him eligible to run in the 6th District. 
    He grew up in Essex and his wife is from St. Helena, so he knows the area well, he said. He also thinks his 2010 experience will help him.
    “You need to get your name out there and your message out there,”  Zajdel explained. “It is difficult because some voters wait until the last few weeks to pay attention to the candidates.”
Candidates can still move into district
Early primary causes residency requirement quirk
by Ben Boehl

    When candidates file to run for public office, are they being honest about their residency?
 The Eagle recently received a tip about two local House of Delegates candidates and one state Senate candidate whose residency in the 6th District is being questioned.
    Republican Johnny Ray Salling kicked off his campaign for the 6th District state Senate seat at his home on Philadelphia Road in August.
    According to the Maryland 2010 Redistricting Plan, Salling’s Philadelphia Road home is in the 8th District.
    When he filed his candidacy with the Maryland Board of Elections, he listed his address as 52nd Street in Colgate, which is in the 6th District.
    According to the Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation (SDAT) that property is owned by Charlynn Lingenfelter.
    When The Eagle called the telephone number for Salling’s Rosedale home, it was disconnected. When we were able to reach him on his cell phone; he said that he has moved into the district in October.
    “I live with my brother in Colgate,” Salling said.
    Another candidate whose residency has been questioned is former Baltimore City Councilman Nicholas C. D’Adamo Jr. 
    He is listed as living in an apartment in Middle River, which was previously located in the 7th Legislative District.
    However; that has changed with redistricting. According to the Baltimore County Board of Elections, D’Adamo’s address puts him in a precinct that votes at Middle River Middle School. That precinct was recently shifted from the 7th to the 6th District, making D’Adamo eligible to run for the House in the 6th District.
    Then there is Roger Zaj-del.
    He ran for the House of Delegates in the 7th District using a Kingsville address in 2010.
    His 2014 candidate filing listed an address on Marlyn Avenue in Essex, which is in the 6th District.
    According to Maryland SDAT, that Marlyn Avenue property is registered to a Carroll and Helen Zajdel.
    According to his candidate committee registration, Roger Zajdel’s mailing address is listed on Yellowstone Road in Kingsville, which is well outside the 6th District.
    Zajdel told The Eagle that his father Carroll died last year and that he and his wife are in the process of moving into his late father’s Marlyn Avenue house.
    The question remains: are any of these candidates violating election laws?
    Jared DeMarinis, Director of the Candidacy & Campaign Finance Division at the Maryland Board of Elections, explained that no candidate has violated any rule so far, even if a candidate has not yet moved into the district in which he or she is running.
    “They have to be a resident [in that district] for six months prior to the general election,” Demarnis explained.
    This year’s election is scheduled for Nov. 4, which would set May 4 as the deadline for candidates to move in their districts — more than two months after the Feb. 25 filing deadline.
    DeMarinis explained that the six-month rule is part of the Maryland Constitution and is not that easy to change.
    “We have had candidates file [before the deadline] and they can still move into that district,” DeMarinis said.
    “The six-month rule was never a factor with the September primaries. The filing deadline was in July.”
    DeMarinis said that the Maryland Board of Elections will check up on those candidates after May 4 to see if they did indeed move into their new districts as they promised.