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Wedding bells will ring soon for state senator

February 18, 2002

Wedding bells will ring soon for state senator



First the governor, now Sen. Alex X. Mooney.

Wedding bells are nearing for Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, who introduced his new fiance, Dr. Grace Gonzalez, to the Maryland Senate last week.

Mooney, 30, and Gonzalez, 33, are planning a big Catholic wedding around August. Even though it's going to be a busy election year, Mooney said he didn't want to wait.

"I'm in love with her and I want her around as much as possible. I've always been one to put family before career," he said.

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Mooney popped the question last weekend, after whisking Gonzalez away to the Shenandoah Valley on the pretense they would be attending political functions.

"I got on my knees like a man and asked her to marry me," he told the Senate.

Gonzalez, of Bethesda, Md., is in the fifth year of a seven-year neurosurgery residency at George Washington University in Washington.

In addition to sharing the same views on politics and religion, Mooney and Gonzalez both have Cuban lineage. Mooney's mother is Cuban and both of Gonzalez's parents were born in Cuba.

Sen. Donald F. Munson practiced the speech in the Senate chamber after hours.

Thirty people from Washington County came to the state capitol to hear what one veteran lawmaker called the finest Lincoln Day speech he's heard in 32 years.

"For me it was a wonderful, exhilarating and satisfying experience," said Munson, R-Washington.

Every year a Republican from the Senate gives the speech in honor of Abraham Lincoln's birthday.

Munson's speech reflected on the similarities between what Lincoln faced as president during the Civil War and what our country is now facing in the wake of Sept. 11.

Sen. Clarence W. Blount, D-Baltimore, said he's listened to 32 Lincoln Day speeches.

"This ranked in my judgment at the top of the list of any I've heard," he said.

You can listen to the speech on the Maryland General Assembly's Web site at mlis.state.md.us/asp/listen.asp. Click on the Senate's proceedings for Monday, Feb. 11.

Paul Muldowney has been gone from the House of Delegates for 16 years but his name came up last week in a farewell speech by retired Treasurer Richard N. Dixon.

Dixon, the first African-American treasurer, recalled the time he discovered Muldowney had ancestors who fought in the Civil War.

"When I told Paul Muldowney my folks served in the Civil War he said, 'Richard, what side was he on?'" Dixon said.

The House erupted in laughter.

Dixon, who was a delegate from Carroll County at the time, said if there's one thing he learned during his years in the legislature, it was tolerance.

"If you can't be understanding of other people's opinions, you don't belong in the House of Delegates," Dixon said.

It's become a tradition for Hagerstown to send a Valentine to the Maryland Senate and this Feb. 14 was no exception.

Kathy Valentine, 36, of Hagerstown, delivered the day's opening prayer. She focused on it being the first Valentine's Day since Sept. 11.

"Comfort those who lost loved ones. Love crosses many boundaries, including death," she said.

In the past, the Rev. Ken Valentine of Hagerstown has given the prayer but he wasn't available this year.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, asked Kathy Valentine if she would step in. He saw the newspaper announcement of her wedding to Tom Valentine.

Every year, the General Assembly grapples with legislation that pits rural people against urban people and this year is no exception.

A Boonsboro trapping family is worried about an animal rights proposal that threatens their livelihood.

The bill, which has never gotten out of the Environmental Matters Committee, would ban the leghold traps the Leggetts use to catch foxes and other nuisance animals.

If the traps are banned, the animals would be free to run loose, attacking farmers' livestock and spreading rabies.

"It would be a dadblame mess," Pete Leggett said. "The whole thing is city people against country people."

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