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Townsend expresses optimism

September 17, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend possesses an optimistic vision of Maryland's future.

According to the Democratic candidate for governor, the economy is positioned to rebound and the University System of Maryland education center project will help revitalize downtown Hagerstown.

Townsend brought her message to Hagerstown on Monday when she stopped by The Herald-Mail on her way to Garrett County, where she was scheduled to address an annual gathering of Democrats there.

Townsend pledged to finish the $13.3 million renovation of the Baldwin House complex to house the University System's Hagerstown Education Center.

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If elected, Townsend said she plans to continue Gov. Parris Glendening's policies on Smart Growth. She believes in targeted growth to designated areas in order to preserve farmland.

She said she also advocates:

  • Raising the cigarette tax by 36 cents a pack to expand health insurance coverage for working-poor families.

  • Not allowing slot machines at racetracks across the state.

  • Continuing the HotSpot program, which brings neighborhood groups together to fight crime.

  • Continuing investments in public education.



Townsend downplayed the seriousness of the state budget deficit, which has been criticized by her Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Townsend said she plans to fill a $1 billion deficit in the state budget through spending cuts in nearly every area but education and public safety.

She's counting on the state's diverse economy to bounce back quickly, she said.

"There's no question we have challenges. In contrast to other states, we're in much better shape," she said.

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