Marylanders say when it comes to economics, they are better off now than they were four years ago, but when it comes to moral values and the country as a whole, they say things are actually worse, according to a Capital News Service survey.
Take, for example, Andrea Grooms, a 36-year-old homemaker who home schools her two children in Westminster.
“Personally I think in our home, I think we’re better off; as a country, I think not,” said Grooms, who was sitting outside a gymnastics studio where her children were taking classes.
While Grooms, a Republican, said moral decline is the most important issue facing the nation now, she also said she wanted to see a lot less coverage of politicians’ personal problems.
Overwhelmingly, honesty and integrity came out as the qualities Maryland residents most would like to see in their federal lawmakers.
“I just want (the election) done with. I don’t want anymore scandals,” said Mary Van Meter, a 20-year-old Allegany College of Maryland student from Cumberland.
While Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic nominee, and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican nominee, came out almost even in the statewide unscientific survey of 131 residents, about a quarter of those questioned said they were undecided.
Ralph Nader, the Green Party nominee, was named as the choice of 1 percent of those surveyed. Pat Buchanan, of the Reform Party, was selected by fewer than 1 percent of those interviewed.
“It is going to be interesting,” said Evelyn Leach, a Fort Washington woman who has her own dental practice.
Marylanders said the most important issues facing the nation right now are education and health care. In addition, about 30 percent of those surveyed said they would like to see the next president and Congress address health care.
“There are thousands of young children that go without access to quality health care,” said Maurice Daniel, Maryland Gore campaign director.
Daniel said Marylanders will compare the candidates on issues, like health care, the economy and education, and base their decision on who speaks for them.
But Paul Ellington, a Maryland Republican Party spokesman, said Americans will choose the candidate who tells the truth.
As for the issues: “I think there’s a dissatisfaction in Maryland about the quality of the public school system,” said Ellington, who wants to see all Maryland Lottery proceeds go to education.
That squares with Donna Hicks’ view. “Children are the most important thing. If we can get this generation motivated and give them what they need, this country will not go to pot,” said the 38-year-old a security guard from Ridgely.
Better health care, better schools – what can Marylanders do without? Tax cuts. About 60 percent of those surveyed said they would rather have the budget surplus go to shore up social programs such as Social Security and Medicare than offer tax relief.
Marylanders also don’t want their politicians to forget the little guy.
About 35 percent of those surveyed said elected officials need to listen to all their constituents, rather than just those with money.
“I think that the elections themselves are too costly. I don’t know how they can sleep at night when one-third of people are hungry…you can buy a president,” said Moses Lattimore, a 57-year-old retiree from Brooklyn Park.
The deadline to register for the Nov. 7 presidential election is 9 p.m. Oct. 13. Call the State Board of Elections at (800) 222-8683 for more information on how to register to vote. Capital News Service reporters David Abrams, Andrei Blakely, Rachel Brown, Barbara Burnham, Riyad Mathew, Mark Matthews, Sean Mussenden and Lori Silverstein contributed to this report. -30- CNS-10-6-00