By Kevin Mcnulty and Virginia Mccord
SOLOMONS, Md. – Mike Mattare just wanted to relax and fish.
But when talk turned to politics, the trucker’s eyes hardened.
“I want somebody in [government] who’s had a real job,” said Mattare, 25, who lives in Hollywood, Md., when he’s not on the road. “I want somebody who’s made $25,000 a year, somebody who’s done some manual labor, who knows what it’s like to earn a real paycheck.”
And most of 27 voters informally interviewed Oct. 1 along the streets, docks and malls of Southern Maryland agreed, saying they want their governor and congressman to be like them.
“Get out of your suit and put on some jeans,” said Demond Galloway, 24, a lube technician from Annapolis. “Call me. We’ll go out and have a beer. Be like us.”
The voters, from Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties, said they also want their officials to be honest and attentive to their concerns.
“Do your job for the people,” said Dorothy Vaughn, 66, a Davidsonville housewife.
“Stick by your guns,” Mattare said.
When asked about President Clinton, only 13 of those interviewed said they wanted Congress to impeach him, even though most believed he had lied about his relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
“It would be different if it was against the people or the country, but it was against his family,” said George Yorty Jr., 66, of LaPlata, a Democrat and retired Navy worker.
“It’s a private issue that the president needs to take up with his wife,” said Leo Howard, 51, a Democrat and the postmaster of Davidsonville.
Many of those interviewed were split on which Maryland candidates to support in November, but united about which issues were important to them.
About half said improving education was the state’s most pressing need. Most asked for smaller classes and better funding, and some said their tax dollars had been wasted.
“They should stop building stadiums and put money into the schools,” said Patricia Hoffman, 50, a Waldorf housewife.
“I don’t know why we have to kowtow to athletics all the time,” said Tricia Grove, 45, a special education teacher in Charles County.
The Charles Countians interviewed seemed particularly concerned about improving public schools, with three of the four calling it important. The county was 20th of 24 school districts in last year’s Maryland School Performance Assessment Program, a measure of school success.
But farther east in Anne Arundel County, the buzz was about gambling.
One Annapolis office manager said she would only vote for candidates who support gambling.
“The most important issue facing Congress and Maryland right now is the legalization of casinos,” said L. Hicks, 24, who asked that her first name not be used.
Democratic Gov. Parris N. Glendening has said he firmly opposes casinos and slot machines in Maryland. Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey has said she may consider gambling at Maryland’s horse tracks, but “it would take a great deal for her to decide slots are the answer,” said Anne Hubbard, a campaign spokeswoman.
But some voters have taken Sauerbrey’s comments as an endorsement of gambling.
“I have never voted Democrat in my entire life, but I might because Sauerbrey strongly supports gambling in Maryland,” said Robert Savin, 78, an Annapolis Republican.
Other voters said they were concerned about crime.
Maryland State Police reported a 1.6 percent increase in violent and property crimes in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties between 1996 and 1997. Those crimes dropped by 2.9 percent in Anne Arundel County during the same period, police reported. “They ought to build a 15-foot cement wall around D.C.,” said Mattare, the trucker. “There’s too many inner-city people moving down here to the suburbs.” -30-