Arthur B. Haynes wants to be Prince George's County executive so badly that even after suffering a paralyzing stroke last spring, he refused to drop out of the race. "I didn't want to pull out just because the going gets a little rough," he said.
Artie L. Polk, a civil engineer who's never held elective office, is convinced he'll give incumbent Parris N. Glendening the shock of his life when the results of the Sept. 11 Democratic primary are tallied. "Glendening's running scared of the Artie Polk candidacy. I have broad-based support, and that's what he's afraid of," he said confidently.
Although widely considered the underdogs in the race for the Democratic nomination, neither Haynes, 55, of Capitol Heights, nor Polk, 43, of Mitchellville, view themselves that way. The two political novices have taken their cases to the voters, convinced that they can overcome their low name recognition and garner enough support to defeat Glendening, the favorite, and his principal opponent, veteran council member Floyd E. Wilson Jr. There is one Republican candidate, Charles W. Sherren Jr.
Haynes, a District of Columbia teacher who ran unsuccessfully against Glendening in 1982 and 1986, calls himself a "citizen politician" who is running because "there's so much that needs to be done for the people."
He wants to improve education and social services, work on community relations with the police department and seek legislative changes that would give the county executive power to veto County Council zoning decisions.
"The County Council has been untouchable," he says. "The executive needs to have a role in that process."
Many of Haynes's positions are not clearly defined, and he concedes that campaigning has been difficult since he had a stroke in April. He insists his health is no longer an issue. "I'm in better shape now than Franklin Roosevelt was when he sought his third term as president," he says. According to the last reports filed with the state Board of Elections, Haynes has not raised any money for his campaign; Polk has raised $8,655.
Polk, an Army reservist and president of the Marlboro Meadows Civic Association, said his work as a community leader has demonstrated his ability to serve as county executive.
He says he will overcome strained relations between blacks and the police department by talking to people in the community. "If I can't turn that around in 12 months, I will be the first to sign a petition to recall me as county executive," he vowed.
He seeks more money for educational programs, but says he will make cuts in the existing budget.
Unlike Haynes, who avoids criticizing Glendening, Polk says Glendening has "turned his head" from the black community. "Black people have no value to Parris. He only tolerates a few of us because he has to," he said.
He also has criticized some county land transactions, particularly the sale of land at below-market prices at the county-owned Collington Center near Upper Marlboro.
Polk said the sales, which Glendening has defended, amount to an "enormous loss to the taxpayers of this county."