Wednesday, 21 May 2014 13:09

Roberts touts business acumen in House bid


Essex bar owner is one of 11 Democratic hopefuls in race

by Ben Boehl

    Rick Roberts is well-known in the Essex area as co-owner of Patrick’s Sports Bar and Grill on Eastern Avenue, but he also has ties to the Greater Dundalk area, as he was born and raised in Edgemere on Manning Avenue.
    Now, he is hoping to turn that name recognition into votes as one of 11 candidates competing in the local Democratic House of Delegates primary.
    “I think people know me. Name recognition will help me out a lot,” Roberts noted. “I have gotten a lot of positive reaction.”

The former president of the Hawks Pleasure Club and current member of the Essex Elk’s, Roberts said he has done a fair amount of volunteer work, including setting up a scholarship fund for all the high schools in Essex, raising over $3,000 in donations for muscular dystrophy and organizing a physical education program at St. Luke school.
    In addition to his volunteer work, he is running on a record of business experience. Roberts has owned Patrick’s since 2005 (he said he plans to sell the business within the next few years) and has managed Sue Island Dock Bar, Jaznick’s and the Midway Cafe.
    “I make decisions every day at the bar, and sometimes you have to make decisions that are not always favorable.”
    According to Roberts, one of the big concerns among business owners is the stormwater management fee known as the “rain tax,” which he said has hurt business owners and forced them to raise prices.
    “I think it blindsided all the taxpayers. We have [a small amount of parking spaces with impervious surfaces], but we couldn’t raise our prices too much. The economy is terrible,” Roberts added.
    His work experience includes a stint with the Baltimore County Police Department and the Baltimore County Sheriff’s Department. As a former police officer, Roberts said he is concerned about the proposed move of Precinct 12 from the North Point Government Center to the site of the former Eastwood Elementary School.
    Roberts said he would like to see a more centralized location and believes Eastwood is too far away from the Greater Dundalk area.
    “As a policeman, I worried, because criminals know what is going on,” Roberts stated. “How long is it going to take to change shifts?”
    As a bar owner, Roberts said he hears all the stories about government waste and wants to go to the House of Delegates to make a difference.    
    He said he has supported the incumbent delegates — John Olszewski, Jr., Joseph “Sonny” Minnick and Michael Weir, Jr. —but would like to see them out in public more often.    
    With Minnick retiring and Olszewski running for the state Senate, Roberts decided it was a good time to run for office.
    “I think I would be good at the job,” Roberts said. “I’m people-friendly and I will be around every year, rather than every four years.”


Fourteen candidates in three races spar at GDA forum


Noted absences include entire “Our Team” ticket

by Ben Boehl

    With the primary election season nearing its final month, the Greater Dundalk Alliance (GDA) held the first formal candidates’ forum of the year last week.
    The event was hosted by Diane MacDougall of the GDA and was open to all Democrats and Republicans running for the House of Delegates and the state Senate in the 6th District and the six candidates running for County Council in the 7th District.
    Every Democrat and Republican running for the House of Delegates, state Senate and County Council was invited, but only 14 came out to the North Point Public Library for the May 14 event.


Where was “Our Team”?
    The talk of the event was the absence of some of the most prominent candidates, including the two current officeholders running in the local elections.
     Del. John Olszewski, Jr., who is running for state Senate, and Del. Mike Weir, Jr., who is seeking re-election, were not at the event. Nor were their ticketmates on the “Our Team” slate, Eric Washington and Ed Crizer.
    Olszewski said in an e-mail to The Eagle that he could not attend because he had a conflict with his doctoral degree class.
    “My absence (for the forum) is due to a previous commitment — finals week for the last class of my Ph.D. program — and not for a lack of interest or desire to attend.” Olszewski said.    
    Chris Maher and Mike Mioduszewski, two Democratic State Central Committee candidates, were the only two candidates from the ‘Our Team’ ticket present at the event.
    Washington said he had a school conflict as well. Crizer explained he had a fundraiser scheduled for that night and Weir said he was out of town.
    That didn’t stop other candidates from criticizing their absence, especially former Del. Jake Mohorovic.

House race:  Mohorovic touts independence; Magee tells tale
    Mohorovic has lobbed repeated shots at “Our Team” after being left off the Olszewski ticket — which he was reportedly hoping to join — in favor of Washington and Weir.
    “I don’t know where they are. They have so much time to put up those signs, but they are not here,” Mohorovic said.
    He went on to tell the audience that he has the most experience to bring positive results. Mohorovic also showed a Crizer brochure that he read.
    “It says “Crizer Can’. Crizer can what?”
    Mohorovic served in the House of Delegates from 1995 to 2003, but lost in the 2002 Democratic primary.
    He claimed he was a victim of Gov. Parris  Glendening’s 2002 redistricting plan.
    “In 2003, I got out of the pack because I didn’t play the game with the governor, but that is okay,” Mohorovic  said.
    The local incumbents challenged the plan in court, with Sen. Norman Stone, Del. Joseph “Sonny” Minnick and Del. John Arnick pursuing a joint action while Mohorovic sued separately.
    In the 2002 election, Mohorovic declined to run on the incumbent Democratic ticket with Stone, Minnick and Arnick, who instead added newcomer Michael Weir Jr. (son of a retiring delegate from Essex) to their ticket; Weir and the incumbent delegates finished ahead of Mohorovic in the Democratic primary that year.
    Mohorovic and Anna Pearce were only two of 11 Democrats in the House race to attend the forum.
    Republicans had five of their nine House candidates at the event:  Robin Grammer, Bob Long, Carl Magee, Ric Metzgar and Roger Zajdel.
    Magee described himself as “the outspoken police officer from Dundalk” and got a loud applause from the audience when he announced his opposition to the “rain tax” and Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014, which is commonly known as the “bathroom bill.”
    During a question-and-answer session, Magee, a former Baltimore City police officer, spoke of his role in the then-notorious arrest of WJZ-TV personality Marty Bass for soliciting a prostitute at Patterson Park in 1985.
    Magee recalled that his former partner made the arrest of Bass and said he was upset that the case was later dropped.
    Magee then went on to the answer the question he had been asked, which had nothing to do with the Bass case.

Council contest: Handful of hopefuls make pitch
    Four of the five Democratic candidates for County Council were present at the GDA event; the exception was Ron Yeatman.
    Todd Crandell, the only Republican in the council race, pointed out that he was the only candidate to enter the race before Councilman John Olszewski Sr. decided not to seek re-election.
    Crandell also announced his plan for a 7th District job creation team.
    “We will create a District 7 finance team,” Crandell said. “We will find someone to market us as a community. What is being done on our behalf is simply not enough.”
    The issue of the North Point Government sale was raised by several candidates.
    Joe DiCara recalled that he taught at the old North Point Junior High School, the site of which is now the center of the controversy. Staigerwald responded to DiCara calling it a school.
    “By the way, it’s a park. It’s a park. It’s a park.”
    C.O. “Bud” Staigerwald criticized Councilman Olszewski for voting to approve the sale of the Government Center.
    “He said he would not vote for something that is not as good or better,” Stagiwald said.
    Brian Weir said he agrees with Staigerwald that the Government Center is a park but said he is not going to make any promises as a candidate that he cannot keep.
    Scott Holupka argued that he has the most experience among the council candidates and is concerned that the district’s infrastructure is aging.
    “A lot of our communities are not aging as gracefully, and we need a better way,” Holupka said.
    “We should not use the old-fashioned way, like we have for the last 50 years.”
    Both Staigerwald and DiCara were questioned about the Common Core  initiative, and both council candidates stated they were unhappy with the school standards program.
    “Our children are not supposed to be an experiment,” DiCara said.

A full-time job?
    One point of debate between candidates was the importance of treating government office as a full-time job.
    Mohorovic and DiCara said they would be full-time representatives, and Long agreed with that sentiment.
    Mohorovic noted thatHouse of Delegates members are paid a yearly salary of $43,500, and the new County Council pay raise will give each member a salary of $62,500 per year.
    “For that kind of money, you need to make a full-time commitment,” Mohorovic said.
    DiCara said he would reduce his full-time job to part-time so he would be able to concentrate on council matters.
    “This is not going to be a part-time job. This will be a my full-time position.”
    Staigerwald responded that he was a member of the volunteer fire department while continuing to work his full-time job and said he would be able to do work and serve on the council effectively.



Local GOP candidates come out to “meet and greet”


by Ben Boehl

    Historically, Republican voters in the Dundalk area might as well have sat out local primary elections,  with candidates for area offices usually running unopposed — if a full slate was offered at all. Often, the same was true at the state level.
    No more; not only are four significant Republican candidates running for governor, three Republicans are vying to face County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and nine candidates are fighting for three slots in the House of Delegates race.    
    To spotlight the local Republican surge and give the public a chance to get to know the party’s candidates, one local GOP hopeful invited fellow Republican candidates — including his own primary rivals — to a joint “meet and greet” event at the Del Capri on German Hill Road on May 21.
    Ric Metzgar, a longtime party stalwart who is making his third bid for a House seat, organized the event, held at the Del Capri on German Hill Road on May 21.
    Ed Lambdin of the Del Capri said he was happy to open the doors of his building for the free event and commended Metzgar.
    “Ric deserves credit for getting together the entire Grand Old Party,”  Lambdin said.
    Before the event, some Republicans privately questioned Metzgar’s motives speculating that there might be more promotion of himself than of the party, but all of Metzgar’s House primary opponents were invited to speak. Many of the candidates thanked Metzgar for giving them the opportunity to speak to the public in such a forum.
    Metzgar told The Eagle that he is committed to promoting the Republican party, even if it results in  not being one of the top three vote-getters in the June primary.
    “This was not a Ric Metzgar event. We are all committed to the community,” he said.
    Six of the nine GOP House candidates took part, including Metzgar, Robin Grammer Jr., Dan Liberatore, Carl Magee, Mitchell Toland Jr. and Roger Zajdel.    
    Bob Long also attended the event but left after a few minutes. He said that he went to the event to see what it was about, but came away disappointed.
    “I told those guys that I might leave early because I had other stuff to do,” Long said. “I saw one voter there, and it was not worth it to stay.”
    Long, who said he hoped for a true debate in which candidates could speak on the issues, was not the only prominent local Republican missing from the forum.
    Todd Crandell, who is running unopposed in the Republican County Council primary, said he had a prior commitment and noted that he has attended other political forums in the past week.
    “I am encouraged that so many organizations are sponsoring these types of events and hope they will collaborate to put on debates of real substance as we get closer to the November election,” Crandell said.   State Senate candidate Johnny Ray Salling, who is unopposed for the GOP slot, attended the event, as did party central committee candidates Paul M. Blitz, Carlton Clendaniel, William Feuer and Bob Schweitzer.
    All three Republican county executive candidates — Tony Campbell, George Harman and Gregory Prush — were in attendance.
    While the House Republican candidates are in competition with each other for the primary, many of them said that the party is nonetheless united.
    “This is a unity of all the candidates. After the primary, we are all going to get together,” Grammer said.
    Campbell, former chairman of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, said that local Republicans have an opportunity in the 6th Legislative District.
    “We should have won a seat in District 6 four years ago, but we didn’t because we didn’t work together.” Campbell said. “We should win a seat or two in District 6 this year.”
    Metzgar agreed  with     Campbell’s assessment and said this is the year for local Republicans to win, with two seats in the House of Delegates and the 7th District County Council seat all being vacated by Democratic incumbents.
    He argued that the local public mood favors the GOP.
    “We need to recognize the outrage. We are committed and determined,” Metzgar noted. “I don’t think we are going after one to two seats .... I think we [can take all three delegate seats].”


 State comptroller endorses Staigerwald for Council


Franchot makes announcement during visit to Turner Station

by Ben Boehl

    County Council candidate C.O. “Bud” Staigerwald picked up an endorsement from Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot at a Turner Station campaign stop on Monday.
    “I am proud of his leadership and I’m delighted to endorse him with his background. He was the president of a volunteer fire department and the president of the New 7th District Democratic Club,” Franchot said, calling Staigerwald “a friend.”
    “He was also endorsed by the AFL-CIO,” Franchot noted. “I want a ‘Buddy’ on the Council.”
    As Franchot and Staigerwald were walking through the neighborhood, a resident invited them over to his lawn.
    The man introduced himself as William Evans and told the duo he is concerned that many of the community events that were once held at the nearby Fleming Center have been moved a few miles down the road to the Sollers Point Multi-Purpose Center.
    Evans said he wants those events back at Fleming.
    Staigerwald said he would look into getting events back at Fleming.
    “You have got my support,” Evans said to Staigerwald.
    Evans happened to mention that he will be going to a family reunion at Cactus Willie’s Steak Buffet in June and invited Staigerwald to stop by and to get the votes of his family members. Staigerwald said he planned on attending the event.
    Coincidentally, Cactus Willie’s was one of 25 Maryland businesses that Franchot named publicly in February as owing unpaid state taxes.
    Cactus Willie’s, with $83,855.91 in arrears; was the only local business on the list.
    “When you go there, can you tell them to give me my money?” Franchot joked.