- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan said yesterday he is strongly considering a run for the Maryland governor's office but will wait until after the presidential election in November before making a final decision.
"I'm looking at it," said Mr. Duncan of the gubernatorial election in 2002. But he said he's in no hurry to rush an announcement because, "the voters have no interest in who the candidates for governor are [in presidential election years]."
Mr. Duncan said he has been traveling throughout Maryland and has been raising money. He has hired a fund-raising director, a polling company and a media consultant for his campaign committee, Friends of Doug Duncan. Plans were already underway in November, when $444,333 had been collected.
No other Democratic candidates have yet announced, but the acknowledged leading contender is Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Other possibilities are Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry, Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersburger III and Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin.
"She's clearly the front-runner," Mr. Duncan said of the niece of assassinated President John F. Kennedy. But Mr. Duncan said his decision to run or not run "has nothing to do with who else is in prospect."
"The issue is, 'What are the challenges facing the government of Maryland,' " Mr. Duncan said. "I'm concerned about some of the leadership in the state."
Mr. Duncan said three main issues are likely challenges for the successor to Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who has already endorsed Mrs. Townsend. Those issues are transportation, broadening the economy throughout the state and improving education.
Although Mr. Glendening has directed more money to education, Mr. Duncan said, "Wayne Curry and I have had to fight very hard to get classroom reform" and measures designed to improve and strengthen classroom teaching.
Favored candidates and distant elections have never been his concern, Mr. Duncan said, explaining he takes on "one election at a time."
If such considerations were relevant, he said, "I should never have been mayor of Rockville. I should never have been county executive."
Mr. Duncan's first election was in 1982 to the Rockville City Council. He was elected mayor from 1987 to 1993 and Montgomery County's chief executive in 1994 and 1998.
His comments about the governor's race came yesterday after announcing that Montgomery County is establishing a computer Internet service for citizens, the first in Maryland.
"Some 70 percent of our residents have personal computers, access to the Internet and are conducting business on line," Mr. Duncan said.
Within a year, residents will be able to conduct almost all of their business with the county by computer, Mr. Duncan said. Already, they can track building permits, apply for jobs, pay property taxes, renew library materials and lease space in public facilities.
Citizens on computers will not be limited by "office hours" but can make inquiries even at 2 a.m., Mr. Duncan said, adding, "It's going to save a lot of staff time," particularly at taxpaying time each year when telephones were overloaded and taxpayers had to wait in lines.
For the 30 percent of residents without computers, the county will encourage the use of computers in public libraries and other community facilities. And service will continue to be available weekdays at county offices.
Other area jurisdictions that have begun some computer Internet services are the District, and Arlington and Fairfax counties, said Montgomery County officials.

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