Although the campaign season for county commissioners does not officially open until next month, a political newcomer who owns a Hughesville bed and breakfast and works in real estate has announced her candidacy for Charles County's southeastern District 1 seat.
Kathy D. Kazimer has the endorsements of two well-known Southern Maryland Democrats -- Rep. Steny H. Hoyer and Del. Sally Y. Jameson (Charles) -- even though she is a newcomer to their party.
Kazimer's candidacy is the first sign of what seems likely to be an active campaign next year for Charles County's five commissioner seats. Two of the five members were appointed to fill vacancies last year.
Candice Quinn Kelly (R-La Plata) was appointed to the board after Commissioner W. Daniel Meyer (R-La Plata) was named by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) to fill a vacancy in the House of Delegates. It is her seat for which Kazimer is running.
Edith J. Patterson (D-Pomfret) was appointed to fill the vacancy created when Commissioner Wayne Cooper (D-White Plains) moved up to the board president post when Murray D. Levy (D) was appointed to the House of Delegates.
Kelly and Patterson have said they intend to run for their seats next year, and Cooper is expected to try to retain the at-large commissioners presidency.
Al Smith (R-Waldorf ) and Robert Fuller (D-St. Charles) are the other members of the Board of Commissioners.
Kazimer was a registered Republican until two Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly helped her out in the kitchen.
When Kazimer opened the doors at Shady Oaks of Serenity Bed and Breakfast in 1994, she learned that health regulations required a commercial-grade, stainless steel kitchen if she were to serve food to guests. That would have cost at least $15,000.
She enlisted the help of Jameson and state Sen. Thomas M. Middleton (D-Charles). The legislation they introduced, which was signed into law last summer, called for more uniform health standards to govern bed and breakfasts. Under the new law, establishments with fewer than eight rooms -- such as Shady Oaks -- are not required to install commercial kitchens.
"When I went to them," Kazimer said of Jameson and Middleton, "they listened and did what they could for me. I want to be able to listen and respond that way."
Kazimer, who is known to acquaintances as the "Shady Lady," is still serving hot chocolate-chip and banana muffins to her guests.
Although candidates cannot officially file until July 5, Kazimer is lining up supporters of her run.
Hoyer called Kazimer "a formidable candidate who will be an asset to the people of Charles County.''
In addition to running the bed and breakfast, Kazimer (pronounced cashmere) has been an agent at Manning Realty for 20 years. When she arrived in Charles County in 1968, she and her husband at the time, Gene, bought an acre and built a home in White Plains.
"It's an impossibility today,'' she said, "with all the restrictions and price of land."
She is a member of the Board of Appeals, which considers requests for exceptions to zoning guidelines, and she has served on a tri-county tourism board.
"We are a gateway to Southern Maryland, but we spend most of our time sending people to Calvert and St. Mary's,'' she said. "We should be doing things to keep people in Charles County."
Kazimer, who is 61, grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania and graduated from Westside Central Catholic High School. She has three grown daughters.