All things considered the most accurate label that can be pinned on Montgomery County's 15th Legislative District this year is "unpredictable."
While the county electorate has increased approximately 7 percent since 1974, the number of registered voters in District 15, which covers more than half the county's land area, has grown by one-third. Democrats and Republicans are relatively unorganized in the district, spread thin from the wealthy precincts of Potomac and old settlements like Cabin John to the farms, poverty pockets and blooming suburbs of Gaithersburg. Darnestown, Germantown and Laytonsville.
Added to that is the tradition of electing mavericks Del. Judy Toth, a Democrat won without her party's endorsement in 1974 and again in the September primary. She hopes her reputation will keep working for her.
All candidates are conducting campaigns based on qualifications and performance and are relatively independent of their slatemates. The 15th District has one senator, while subdictrict 15-A will elect one delegate and 15-B will elect two.
Incumbent Sen. Laurence Levitan, a lawyer cites his experience after four years in the House and four years in the Senate. "My Republican opponent says if he is elected he will take a fine-toothed comb and make cuts in state expenditures. For one thing, the chances of him getting on the budget committee are virtually zero, and for another. I have a chance to become chairman of that committee."
But John Henry Hiser Jr., a home builder challenging Levitan for the Senate said that his Republican affiliation should world in his favor.
"I have been fed up having problems of the citizens fall on deaf ears . . . With only one Republican incumbent in the legislature from the country, that shows we do not have a two-party system. "Throw all the rascals out' is the mood I hear."
Hiser, president of the Potomac Chamber of Commerce and the county Homebuilders Association, supports TRIM (Tax Relief in Montgomery), the strictly local ballot referendum seeking to roll back property taxes. Levitan opposes it.
The third candidate in the race, Bette Marshall, is a former Democrat turned Independent, who operates Yesteryear Farms Antiques of Laytonsville. "I feel we need more representation in Annapolis by business people," she said. "I don't think one person can change the system, but if you don't take a stand, then things will never be different."
In District 15-A, the smaller of the subdivisions, Del Jerry Hyatt, a Democrat and Damascus lawyer, is seeking reelection against the challenge of Erwin Vogel, an Independent.
Hyatt has emphasized his record as a fiscal conservative "Proposition 13 is catching up with me," he said and as a deliverer of constituent services. "The most important thing a legislator can do is help constituents cut through government red tape," said Hyatt.
In his literature, Voged describes himself as a Libertarian-"liberal" in believing that government should not intrude too far into private lives-and "conservative" in fiscal matters.
In 15-B, Toth also believes that "constituent services mean more than anything else to the people I talk to."
Toth, who has sponsored legislation election reform, lobbying disclosures, sex descrimination and consumer and environmental protection, said she wants to continue working for these and other measures, such as ethics and tax reform and programs for the handicapped and senior citizens.
The other Democrat, Jay Bernstein, a lawyer in Silver Spring, was appointed to a legislative vacancy after the 1978 session was concluded. A party activist, he said he is ready to help citizens in their battles with government against landfills, overspending, crowded schools and congested highway."
Republican House candidate Robin Ficker, formerly a Democrat and an Independent, is best known for his frequent ballot question drives. Two years ago he promoted the unsuccessful referendum question to limit property tax rates, an effort which he says "staked out my position for property tax reform early before Proposition 13 became popular."
This year, he sponsored a ballot question which, if successful, would forbid landfills on residentially zoned property.
The other Republican, Thomas Williams, a lawyer, is a moderate running on his civic record as past president of the Potomac Chamber of Commerce and current president of the West Montgomery Citizens Association. He too, favors TRIM.
"When you listen to the discussions, we all sound like brother and sister," said Williams. "The real question comes down to our performance."