- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 6, 2002

The polls were busier than usual yesterday for a midterm election as Northern Virginians cast ballots to decide whether to raise their sales tax and Maryland voters elected a new governor in a closely run race.
Even in the middle of the day, Maryland voters were standing in lines because of the tight gubernatorial race between Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Democrat, and Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Republican.
Across the Potomac River, Northern Virginia residents were drawn to polls to decide whether the sales tax should be increased by one-half percent to generate money for road and transit projects. The proposed measure was expected to raise $5 billion over the next 20 years.
In the race for governor, Mr. Ehrlich had hoped to attract enough black votes and crossover votes from Democrats to become the first Republican elected to that office since Spiro Agnew. Life-size posters of Michael Steele outside predominately black precincts said he would become the state's first black lieutenant governor as Mr. Ehrlich's running mate, but many blacks said they voted for Mrs. Townsend instead.
"I think she will be better for the county," Phyllis Bell, 67 a retired bookkeeper, said before voting at William Beanes Elementary School in Suitland.
"Democrats have been more supportive of blacks in the past," Mrs. Bell said. "I felt she's offered more. If it was a facade, I bought into it."
Timothy Bundy, a 37-year-old baker, said, "I think the lady has done a good job. I liked her from the start," as he was leaving the polls at Potomac High School in Temple Hills with his wife, Tangelia, 41.
Voting appeared to be heavy throughout Maryland. Voters at the Oregon Ridge Lodge Hall in Baltimore County were waiting in line at 6:35 a.m., although the polls did not open until 7 a.m. By 11 a.m., 700 ballots had been cast, compared with 600 during the entire primary election.
Marlene Duke, a school counselor from Lutherville, said she voted for Mr. Ehrlich because he would do more to help education.
"I think he is more sincere. He was my choice all around," she said after voting at Hampton Elementary School. "Kathleen Townsend said she would do a lot for the teachers, but there are a lot of teachers who are not voting for her. Just because [the Maryland State Teachers Association] supports her does not mean we all will."
Few voters appeared to cross over in the strongly Democratic Montgomery County.
Oral Smith, 44, voted Democratic "down the line."
"I support Townsend all the way," Mr. Smith said, adding that he supported the candidate's views on issues like education and health care.
Natalie and Ed White said they voted for Mr. Ehrlich because they were lifelong Republicans and because they did not believe Mrs. Townsend could deliver all that she promised.
"Of all the things she is promising now, why didn't she do something when she was lieutenant governor?" Mrs. White asked.
The sales-tax referendum in Northern Virginia appeared to be just as close and divisive.
"I don't think more roads is the only answer," said Neil Berkowitz, a 25-year-old paralegal voting in support of the sales-tax increase at Ravensworth Elementary School in Annandale.
"In the long run, I hope they put more money where it will do the most good. I think not voting for it would be saying, 'We'll let someone else do it.'" Mr. Berkowitz said.
A neighbor also voting at Ravensworth Elementary School said politicians spend too much money without fixing any of the region's traffic problems.
"I feel they need to get their house in order. They rebuilt the Memorial Bridge [in Springfield] twice in the last five years," said June Lee, 71. "They need to get their acts together, and I'm not ready to give them any more money until they do."
Michael Miller, 49, of Alexandria said he voted for the referendum. He said he hopes that more money will be spent on expanding Metrorail to Reston, where he works.
"I don't like sprawl and you really can't stop it as long as people keep moving in," said Mr. Miller, a mineral specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey. "The transportation tax commits more money to Northern Virginia. I have to commute to Reston. I have flextime. If for some reason I have to get out in rush hour, it can take two hours to get to work."
Mary Shaffrey and Vaishali Honawar contributed to this report.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide