Newby to take on Munson

June 20, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

Political newcomer Mary E. Newby is challenging the re-election of Washington County's longest-serving state elected official.

In an initial interview about her campaign, Newby said she faulted Republican Sen. Donald F. Munson for failing to rack up more political clout during his nearly 28 years in state elected office.

As an example, she cited the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center project.

During the last legislative session, a powerful Democrat in the Senate threatened to cut the $12.4 million project in order to get Munson's vote on a cigarette tax increase.

"One would think that someone with his seniority would have a little bit more power," said Newby, a Democrat.

Munson bristled at the criticism.

"She's a complete neophyte. She doesn't have any idea how it works in Annapolis. If her campaign as it appears to be starting off is to be nothing more than verbal abuse of me, she needs to get a life," he said.


Democrats have long had a lock on political power in Maryland.

Newby, 47, of 813 The Terrace in Hagerstown, said she and others in the community have grown frustrated.

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease and I don't think we've had a squeaky wheel. I'd like to be that squeaky wheel," she said.

Newby moved to Washington County 17 years ago when her husband, Dr. John Newby, got a job here.

"This is a wonderful place to live. We need to make sure we can keep that going," she said.

Newby works as a reading teacher at Eastern Elementary in Hagerstown.

She began her career as an Army nurse and volunteered in the schools while raising her children.

Newby has a bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Maryland and a master's degree in education from Frostburg State University.

As evidence that she would be able to get things done, Newby cited her involvement in negotiations for the Washington County Teachers Association. As a member of a team representing elementary teachers, Newby said, she helped to get extra pay for teachers who spend the night with students at the Fairview Outdoor School.

As her argument, Newby pointed out that without an increase, those teachers would be getting $4.25 an hour for their Fairview work, which is less than a babysitter, she said.

In addition to local funding issues, Newby said she is interested in working on issues of health care and education.

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, which has proposed being sold to a for-profit company, should remain a nonprofit to cover those who have no other access to health insurance, she said.

More money should be spent on education, Newby said. She said she would support legalizing slot machines at racetracks as long as the money would be earmarked for education.

She says she also wants to get feedback from the community.

"I would be a good listener," she said.

The primary is set for Sept. 10 and the general election is Nov. 5.

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