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Democrats rally at Venice

May 28, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

by Joe Crocetta / staff photographer

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Kennedy Townsend

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend led a host of prominent Democrats who touted the Glendening administration's record and pumped up the 300 partisan Democrats at Wednesday night's Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.

Speaking at the Best Western Venice Inn on Dual Highway, Townsend reeled off a raft of statistics: a nine-year low in unemployment, 110,000 new jobs since 1995, a 43 percent drop in welfare cases, a 10 percent income tax reduction and cuts in 35 business taxes.

"They're just so invigorating," she said. "What should be up is up; what should be down is down."

Townsend, the eldest daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, also spoke proudly of Maryland's efforts to reduce crime.

As the administration's point person on crime, Townsend helped design the Maryland HotSpot Communities Initiative, which targets high-crime neighborhoods with intensive enforcement and prevention measures.

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Authorities in Washington County selected a half-mile section of Hagerstown for the program.

For the initiative to work, Townsend said the entire community must be engaged. As evidence, she cited six Baltimore neighborhoods that were part of a pilot program.

In five of the six areas, crime fell between 25 and 30 percent in two years, she said. The sixth neighborhood showed no change, she said.

Townsend said the reason was that an extraordinary volunteer died and there were not enough people to pick up the slack.

"And the police couldn't do it alone," she said.

Other officials who spoke Wednesday echoed Townsend's themes.

House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, said the party has experience in state government and is responsible for key investments in education and a healthy rainy day fund.

"That's the Democrat record that we're proud of here in Western Maryland," he said. "Tom Jefferson and Andy Jackson would be very proud of us."

Taylor said this year's election is especially important because legislative districts will be redrawn after the 2000 census to fit population shifts.

State Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein picked up on that while endorsing two Democratic legislators from Washington County.

"It's very important to have John Donoghue and Del. (D. Bruce) Poole, here, back in office," he said.

Townsend, who noted the 30th anniversary of her famous father's last campaign, said she sees the ideals he fought for alive and well in the present Democratic party.

"That campaign really touched our hearts about what it means to be an American, and, I believe, Democrats," she said.

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