Alec E. Pueschel and Everett L. Edmond share this much in common: Each is a Republican in Prince George's County, each is running an uphill campaign to unseat an incumbent Democrat in a courthouse race, and each says the office he is seeking sorely needs a breath of fresh air.
They also have this in common: In Prince George's, where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than 3 to 1, Edmond and Pueschel say they know something about their opponents, while their opponents claim to know virtually nothing about them.
Asked recently to name Pueschel, the man who is seeking to deny him a fourth term, county Sheriff James V. Aluisi replied, "Alec something, I think. A former police officer. Alec something-or-other."
And Callie Mae Heffron, the county's register of wills since 1977, said of Edmond: "I've never met him, I've never seen him, I've never talked with him. I don't know him. I do know what his name is, but that's because I read it in the paper."
That lack of recognition illustrates what Pueschel and Edmond contend is wrong with the officeholders they hope to oust in the Nov. 6 general election.
"She's been in there too long," Edmond said of Heffron, who was appointed register of wills in September 1977, and won elections to four-year terms in 1978, 1982 and 1986. "I think what we need is some different views, a different way of doing things."
And Pueschel, referring to Aluisi and the county in general, said, "We need change. For too long, it's been just the same old people in the same old offices."
There will be at least one change in the courthouse. While Aluisi and Heffron seek to stay on, Circuit Court Clerk Norman Pritchett, a Democrat, has decided against seeking a fifth term.
In the race to fill his job, Democrat Vivian Jenkins, of Lanham, will face Republican Christine Davis, of Laurel.
Pueschel, 44, of Upper Marlboro, a county police officer for 17 years before retiring in 1985, said his "years of progressive law enforcement experience" qualify him to head a department responsible for finding fugitives, serving civil summonses and providing courthouse security.
He said Aluisi has made inefficient use of his personnel, allowing too many men and women into middle-management positions and leaving an insufficient number of deputies to serve fugitive warrants.
Pueschel, who is now a full-time flight instructor, scoffed at Aluisi's assertion that deputies served 22,000 warrants last year. In many cases, Pueschel said, the fugitives for whom the warrants had been issued were picked up by police officers and turned over to Aluisi's department.
As for his ability to oversee a staff of nearly 300 and an annual budget approaching $9 million, Pueschel pointed to his experience as vice president of Concordia Lutheran Church in Upper Marlboro. "I always had budgets to deal with," he said.
Aluisi, 45, also of Upper Marlboro, said he will rest "on my record" in seeking another four-year term in the $78,000-a-year post.
"There was a very critical grand jury report back in 1976, calling this department basically a bunch of untrained, undereducated redneck ruffians," Aluisi said. Since taking office after the 1978 election, "That's all changed . . . . The training here is second to none."
He said deputies now receive virtually the same training as Prince George's police officers, and noted that he has adopted a policy requiring all of them to undergo 35 hours of additional training a year.
His primary goal in a fourth term, Aluisi said, would be to improve security for judges and witnesses.
Davis, the Republican candidate for Circuit Court clerk, spoke of making the scheduling process for trials more efficient.
"Part of the reason I'm running is because I want to streamline things and eliminate delays," said Davis, 42. As for how she would go about decreasing the case backlog, she said, "I don't have any definite ideas. You get into that when you get there."
Davis, a writer, said she differs with Jenkins, her Democratic opponent, on whether salaries ought to be increased for some of the office's 143 employees.
Jenkins has said she favors raises, but Davis said, "I'm not interested in that . . . . I'm running because they need more fiscal responsibility."
Jenkins, 49, an administrative aide to state Sen. Decatur W. Trotter (D-Prince George's), said she is the better candidate for the $60,000-a- year post, partly because of her experience in the state House of Delegates, where she held various staff jobs from 1975 to 1979, and from 1983 until now.
With her contacts in Annapolis, Jenkins said, she would be better able to lobby for budget increases. She also said she would work to familiarize the public with the court system by speaking to community groups.
In the contest for register of wills, Edmond, 46, of Mitchellville, said he was "more or less approached to run" by fellow Republicans. He has been active in the party since the early 1980s, he said, particularly with the Prince George's County Black Republican Council.
"I think the place needs some clearing out," he said of Heffron's office, which oversees the disposition of wills, and has a staff of 19. But Edmond, a Delta Airlines marketing employee, added that before deciding what to clear out, "I'd have to get in there and see."
Heffron, 69, of Cheverly, said experience alone makes her more qualified than Edmond for the $45,000-a- year job. "I would run on my record," she said, adding that under her, the office has become "the only register's office in Maryland that's computerized."
She also said hers is the only such office in the state that publishes a yearly updated booklet explaining Maryland probate law to the public in lay terms.