Term: 4 years

Salary: $27,000

QUESTION: How would you balance statewide interests with the specific needs of your constituents?

(3 seats)

Joanne C. Benson (Democrat)

Nathaniel Exum (Democrat)

Edward J. Turner (Republican)

Sylvania W. Woods Jr. (Democrat)

Joanne C. Benson (D)

408 Hill Rd., Landover

Age: 49

Principal, Prince George's County public schools; 28-year educator; member, United Teaching Profession; member, Maryland State Teachers Association Minority Caucus; member, Women's Political Caucus; member, National Black Child Development Institute; volunteer, Homeless Outreach; Outstanding Educator, Prince George's County public schools; Outstanding Educator, Prince George's County Educator's Association; Citizen of the Year, Omega Psi Phi fraternity; Outstanding Community Service, J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association; recognized, Who's Who Among Black Leaders in the Metropolitan Area, Who's Who Among Notable Educators in the State of Maryland.

A: As we proceed to assess statewide and local interests, we are finding very little disagreement or difference. My constituents are very concerned about the environment, adequate health care for children and all people, quality and equity in spending for education, affordable housing, economic development with equity and parity, a strong drug and alcohol treatment program that would reduce our prison population, adequate child-care services, increased services for our elderly, as well as returning the control of the community to the community with incentive kinds of programs. We are also concerned that our youths are getting into trouble because of a lack of structured recreation and available employment. As I meet with different community groups, we will prioritize our needs to specifics as we focus in on ways to balance the state budget.

Nathaniel Exum (D)

6702 Arlene Dr., Capitol Heights

Age: 50


Safety director, Joseph Smith and Sons Inc.; member, House of Delegates, 1975-present; deputy majority whip, 1988-present; member, Economic Matters Committee; chairman, Subcommittee on Economic and Employment Development; life member, NAACP; charter member, Capital Centre-Landover Kiwanis Club; member, Advisory Board Family Service of Prince George's County; member, executive committee, Maryland Legislative Black Caucus; member, Federal Budget and Taxation Committee, National Conference of State Legislators; member, executive committee, National Black Caucus of State Legislators; member, senior board of trustees, Metropolitan AME Church; married, two children.

A: I will balance the statewide interest with the specific needs of my constituents by not being parochial. There should be a balance between the interest of my constituents and the interest of the state, in order for the state and all of its citizens to prosper and have a quality of life that is good for all. Since we are elected by our constituents in our specific legislative districts, it is normal for us to be parochial in nature and be content to be looking out only for our districts. However, we as legislators must look at the broader picture and take care of the interest of the entire state as well as our specific districts. We have to just do it.

Edward J. Turner (R)

4201 34th St., Mt. Rainier

Age: 24

Member, Mt. Rainier City Council, 1989-present; Gonzaga College High School, 1984; BA, political science, minor in philosophy, Catholic University, 1988; candidate, master's degree, public management and business administration, University of Maryland, College Park; staff member, U.S. Sen. Quentin Burdick (D-N.D.), 1984-1989; volunteer, summer camps for children and adults with mental retardation and muscular dystrophy, and a shelter for runaway children; lector, St. James Catholic Church, 1983-present; water safety instructor, American Red Cross, 1985-89; lifelong resident of Prince George's County.

A: As a delegate, I would of course be concerned both about the needs of my constituents and statewide interests. Ideally, there should be no significant conflict between the two. But, realistically, such situations do occur and in such an event I would carefully weigh all the alternatives and try to reach a judgment as to where the greatest need lay. Based on that judgment, I would support the course of action that appeared to me to provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Sylvania W. Woods Jr. (D)

10009 Bald Hill Rd., Mitchellville

Age: 36


Owner, Cellular Network; member, House of Delegates, 1979-present; chairman, Prince George's County delegation, 1989-present; former council member, Glenarden, served as vice chairman, chairman and acting mayor, 1975-79; member, Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments board of directors, 1984-86; member, board of directors, Young Democrats of Maryland, 1983-89; chairman, National Black Caucus of State Legislators; former vice chairman, Maryland Legislative Black Caucus; member, Southern Legislative Conference; member, National Eagle Scout Association; member, Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

A: As a state legislator it is my duty to balance statewide interests with the specific needs of my constituents in the 24th Legislative District. Some of those interests include gas tax measures, mid-management waste, and furloughs, such as the ones the federal government is now experiencing. In a time of tight budgets and burdened economies, cutting waste management in state government is very essential. It ensures the economic survival of more important social programs. Support of these programs is critical to the constituents in my legislative district as well as the residents in Maryland. However, we will not furlough state employees as a result of budget deficits. I would support higher gas taxes if the communities in the 24th District could acquire sound barriers on Route 50 and Route 495 as a result of those tax measures. The residents of Prince George's County deserve not to be adversely affected by the sounds of nearby freeways.