"This is a dump," sniffed Sally Kanchugar, a Democrat running for the County Council.
Indeed it was. She and John Menke, seeking the Democratic nomination for county executive, were staging a press conference beside heaps of trash at the county landfill in Rockville to announce their environmental policies.
As the aroma of garbage was spread and intensified by a penetrating breeze, Menke and Kanchugar, who have allied on a "ticket," proposed a 12-point environmental program including, naturally, a plan to bury such dumps.
They shouted their porposals over the din amid swirls of dust as trucks dumped their refuse, building the mountains of trash higher on two sides of the grassy plot where the candidates stood.
The roads to the press conference and been muddy and dominated by dump trucks. Afterward, the candidates served limonade and cookies, althought the air was heavy with the stench of decay. A few reporters weren't hungry and turned away.
Menke said the chooses the sites of his campaign announcements "to connect the scene with the substance."
With the primary election only five weeks away. Menke and his opponents are zeroing in on what their strategists say is their most important task: getting their names around. Their campaign gimmicks are aimed at just that, and in the words of one strategist, "little is too schlocky for the voters."
"In a primary campaign, everyone has a name recognition problem, so they must use flair to call attention to themselves, especially when it's summer and no one is listening," said William Bradford, a member of the county Democratic Central Committee.
So, while Menke is hoding a press conference at the dump. State Sen. Charles Gilchrist, another executive contender, may be blad-handing prospective voters in rush-hour traffic jams. And Royce Hanson, the planning board chairman also running for executive, is distributing recipes for the "Hanson for Executive Cookie."
"It's a good cookie, and it's a identification thing," said Hanson. He used the same old-family recipe in 1964 in his unsuccessful "Hanson-for-Congress" race. "It's gone through several metamorphoses." he said.
To be on the safe side. Hason had 25,000 recipes printed htis year.
One of Gilchrist's strategists. Stan Gilenhorn, latched on to the rush-hour hand-shaking after he computed that a candidate could reach 200 voters in one rush hour by catching them while stopped at left turns.
Yesterday, Gilchrist was at Rockville Pike and Nicholson Lane, "the perfect political intersection," according to Gildenhorn. "In the evening, the lights last three to four minutes and 12 to 15 cars back up at a time," he said.
In their press conference at the landfill, Menke and Kanehugar proposed that enviromental facilities, such as new sewage treatment plants and sludge sites, be placed on a countrywide master plan so that citizens would be "alerted" to refuse disposal facilities planned near their neighborhoods.
They also lent their support to two current county council proposals: a new plant that would serve anticipated sewage treatment needs for the next 20 years and a reservoir for water storage near Boyds. A new trash recycling facility, instead of more landfills, should be the "highest priority," they said. One proposed landfill location now under review by the State Health Department is near Kanchugar's Potomac residence.
Rather than an new multimillion-dollar sewage plant to meet present and future treatment demands. Hanson has proposed that the county repair leaky pipes, build a small experimental land treatment facility, extend the life of existing "interim" plants and "administer better than we have" the county's current sewer capacity.
Gilchrist said he too is not sure that we want to leap into building a big sewer treatment facility. "However, it is absolutely necessary," he added, to build a trash recycling facility, a proposal which, he said, is "being stalled by the county government."