By Loren Goloski and Kristi E. Swartz
BALTIMORE – Matthew Hooker stared at the Inner Harbor waters wondering where he could find a job. The 30-year-old city resident recently became unemployed and said he was concerned about the economy – a national issue that hits home for him.
“Congress is going to have to cut taxes to create jobs in this country,” said Hooker, a Republican and a Dole supporter.
In interviews Tuesday with 36 residents of Baltimore and three of its suburbs – Carroll, Baltimore and Howard counties – Hooker’s concerns about the economy were raised repeatedly, by 15 of those stopped in malls, parks, on the street and in a school.
In the suburbs, concerns about local population growth and development also were raised.
For instance, Frank C. Mirabile, 74, a Catonsville resident who owns an advertising and public relations firm, said the increased number of people in Catonsville in Baltimore County sometimes causes traffic gridlock.
Baltimore County’s population increased about 7 percent from 1980 to 1992, to 705,138, Census figures show.
For the same period, Howard County’s population increased about 69 percent, to 199,930, and Carroll County’s rose about 35 percent, to 130,466.
Terry Dale Kidd, a 40-year-old Westminster associate pastor and Christian school administrator, agreed growth is a problem, adding that with growth comes increased crime.
But Kidd said the federal government should not do anything to deal with growth.
“Government’s way too big, too involved in things,” Kidd said.
Baltimore resident Carrie Donner said the federal government can’t do anything to help the nation’s economic problems. Donner, a 28-year-old general manager of Wal-Mart, said the country’s economic issues are too complex for Congress and the president to solve.
But other voters were more optimistic about the government being able to help the country.
Baltimore resident Adele Robie, 71, said she is happy with the way President Clinton has protected Medicare and Social Security. The retired elementary school teacher said the government must continue to protect social programs while improving education for children.
“The young are our future,” Robie said.
Of the 36 people interviewed, 24 said they are Democrats and eight Republicans. Four said they are independents.
But not all intend to vote along party lines.
Fourteen people – 13 Democrats and one Republican – said they are going to vote for Clinton Nov. 5.
Eight people – three Democrats and five Republicans – said they will vote for Dole.
One Republican said she will write in Patrick Buchanan for president.
Eight said they are undecided; four said they will not vote; and one said he has chosen a candidate but would not reveal his choice.
“I’m voting for Dole because I think he will lose,” said Baltimore resident Steve Minett, 43, a registered Democrat. “If Clinton wins by a lot, I think it will be a mandate to push his agenda.”
Voters supporting Clinton said he is tough on crime, has a good domestic and foreign policy, and focuses on the poor and lower class.
“He’s more inclined to have empathy with the middle class and the poor,” said John Beam, a 71-year-old Democrat and a retired pharmacist from Columbia.
Questions raised about Clinton’s personal integrity did not affect those supporting him. “People should think first before they throw stones,” said John Cerquone, 41, a Baltimore Democrat and Sony account manager.
Dole supporters said the former Senate majority leader from Kansas has integrity and experience in public service.
But for some, their support of Dole came from their distaste for Clinton.
“I can’t stand Clinton,” said Judy Mied, a 44-year-old teacher and sports coach from Woodbine. The registered Republican also supports Dole because she said he is ethically more sound and has experience as a senator and a soldier.
Baltimore resident John Frederick, 58 and retired, said the choice isn’t easy: “Clinton is too crooked, and Dole is too old,” the Democrat said.
Although those interviewed were familiar with the presidential nominees, the names of their congressmen escaped all but seven of them. Given the split representation in Baltimore, it’s no small wonder: Reps. Benjamin Cardin, D-Baltimore; Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore; and Wayne Gilchrest, R-Kennedyville, each represent parts of the city.
Cardin and Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, represent parts of Howard County. Bartlett represents Carroll County. When asked who her congressman was, Republican Cyndi Kitts, 47, a Baltimore housewife, replied: “I don’t know. Some liberal Democrat.” -30-