Early in the summer when Republican Linda Wood began door-knocking in her campaign for the state House of Delegates in eastern Montgomery County, she discovered newcomer after newcomer like herself. Many of them, she says hadn't heard the name of Del. Joel Chasnoff, the incumbent from the district.
An enormous influx of new residents to the 14th District, which encompasses a tiny corner of Montgomery County and all of Howard County, has encouraged a new crop of candidates who see the territory as fertile ground for their efforts to enter the state legislature.
Theirs are contests based more on personal "qualifications" than great differences on issues.
State Sen. James Clark Jr., a 15-year incumbent, dairy farmer and influential chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, survived his first challenge in more than a decade by soundly defeating economist Monroe Burk, of Columbia, in the Democratic primary.
Clark has no opponent in the general election.
Chasnoff, 42, the one-term Democratic incumbent since 1974, is a Silver Spring lawyer who is "running on my experience . . . my record . . . my constituent activist, for the one House of Delegates seat from subdistrict 14A. That district covers the east-central corner of Montgomery and two precincts in Howard County.
Chasnoff said that he has "been a vehicle" to the government for citizens to fight landfills, sludge sites and sewage treatment plants proposed for their neighborhoods.
He also cited his successful effort to prevent the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission's expansion of the Triadelphia Reservoir, which would have flooded land on which 126 homes stand.
"I have done my job, I know I have," said Chasnoff, noting his record on the House Judiciary, the Rape and Related Offenses and Patuxent River Watershed Advisory committees.
But Wood, 37, who has lived in the district three years, contends that "the major failure of his "Chasnoff's) four years has been lack of communication" with the people.
A Republican National Convention delegate in 1976, Wood said one reason she decided to run "was the failure of the legislature to pass an ethics bill for elected officials." She also believes that one way to reduce taxes could be through and legislative review commission to review all federal programs requiring state matching funds "to see if they are effective in terms of their cost."
In 14B, which covers the rest of Howard County, two Republicans and two Democrats and battling for the two delegate seats.
Incumbent Democrat Hugh Burgess, 48, a lawyer from Ellicott City completing his 12th year in the legislature, has stressed his record and his seniority. He said he was for an increase in the income tax to take the burden off property taxes until he recently "got the facts" from legislative leaders that the change is "almost impractical."
The other Democrat, 26-year-old Anne Baker, is a party activist and Democratic National Committee-woman who has promised the voters increased constituent services. In her primary campaign Baker, the most liberal of the candidates, criticized Burgess for being "inaccessible." She said she would be a "full-time delegate," probably with evening office hours, frequent public hearings and annual reports to constituents "at my own expanse."
Similar criticism of the county's lack of "dynamic leadership" has been expressed by Howard County Republican leaders. Nevertheless, the Republican percentage of the registration has been falling, from a 2-to-1 Democratic lead in 1974 to a 2.6-to-1 Democratic lead this year.
Joan Athen, 34, a wife, mother and founder of an unusual program to teach the handicapped horseback riding as therapy, is running on her "qualifications" as a party activist and business woman. She is a former executive at Woodward and Lothrop. An energetic campaigner, she has spent two years "doing research" at the legislature to learn about the job.
The other Republican, James O. Hutchinson, 54, is an electrical engineer and lawyer who has a management job at Westinghouse. He also is emphasizing his "unique qualifications" in those two professions, particularly in terms of promoting industrial growth in the state. He also favors increasing local piggyback income taxes to reduce local property tax rates.