Candidates say contrast found in qualifications

October 30, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

Ideologically, the two candidates for the Maryland House of Delegates seat in District 2A are not very far apart even though they belong to different political parties.

Del. Robert A. McKee and Peter E. Perini Sr. both say they're fiscal conservatives. Both say that education should be the state's first funding priority. Both say they support the rights of gun owners.

When asked about their differences, the two candidates most often contrast their personal and professional qualifications for the job of representing Washington County voters in Annapolis.


McKee, the incumbent, cites his 30 years of community involvement, holding leadership positions on groups such as the Foster Care Review Board, Exchange Club and Little League.

McKee, who has held the legislative seat for eight years, has been the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County for the last 23 years.

Challenger Peter E. Perini Sr. is president and CEO of Magnolia Management, which operates six nursing homes in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Perini points out that his company has 1,000 employees while McKee's nonprofit has two.

"My skills and the work I've done in the community and business has given me the background I think I need to be a true leader in the General Assembly," Perini said.

Perini, who is making his first run for public office, has long list of community organizations with which he has been involved. Among them are the Rotary, Greater Hagerstown Committee and several state and national health care organizations.

"After eight years, people are asking me, 'What has your opponent done for Washington County?'"

McKee said he is proud of his record. While serving as chairman of the Washington County delegation, McKee said there were many times when he had to bring together lawmakers of differing views on a local issue.

"I know how to build consensus and work for compromise," he said.

McKee also notes his efforts at constituent service. He estimates that his office has helped 900 people with state government-related problems over the last eight years.

McKee described himself as a moderate Republican and said the Maryland General Assembly does not need more Democrats like Perini.

Under the lopsided power structure, Democrats make all the decisions "in the back room," he said.

"Uncontrolled spending" by the Democratic leadership has landed the state $1.7 billion in debt, he said.

Perini also described himself as a fiscal conservative.

"The problem is we're not really looking at the old programs. I'd like to know what evaluations have been done on old programs. We never seem to take anything off the plate," Perini said.

Perini said he's a member of the National Rifle Association. But McKee pointed out that he got the group's endorsement.

District 2A starts south of Williamsport and runs north and east of Hagerstown to the Frederick County line.

Whoever is elected will make an annual salary of $34,500 in 2003. The pay will increase by $3,000 a year in each of the following three years, reaching $43,500 in 2006.


Robert A. McKee

Age: 53

Address: 10819 Oak Valley Drive, Hagerstown


- Dealing with the state's budget deficit while protecting money for education and health care.

- Pushing tougher penalties for gun crimes while protecting the rights of gun owners.

- Making sure the state contributes to important Washington County projects such as the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center, runway extension at Hagerstown Regional Airport and widening of Interstate 81.

- Continuing a high level of constituent service.

Peter E. Perini Sr.

Age: 39

Address: 19610 Cresap Drive, Hagerstown


- Continuing improvements to public and private education, including more state funding.

- Making sure people have access to affordable health care, including prescription drugs for senior citizens.

- Promoting sustained, controlled growth in Washington County.

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