Stanton says he’ll challenge Beitzel
Oakland resident will seek District 1A delegate seat
MCHENRY — It’s not yet official, but Democrat James “Smokey” Stanton said he’s committed to challenging incumbent Wendell Beitzel for the District 1A seat in the House of Delegates.
Stanton, 62, said he could bring “a unique blend” of skills to the position, which he believes has not effectively been used to represent district residents in Garrett County and along Georges Creek in Allegany County. Stanton said his experience in small business and large corporations, as well as existing contacts in state and local governments, would ensure “the learning curve is fairly flat.”
“Yes, it would be a new job for me,” said Stanton, a Garrett County native and a resident of Oakland, but “I’ve worked within the Maryland legislature for a total of 17 years. I understand how to write legislation. I understand how to work within the legislative process in order to effectively advocate (for) our area.”
Beitzel confirmed Wednesday he will seek a second term in office. He defended his ability to effectively represent District 1A.
“I think, for a first-term delegate … that I have been a very effective legislator,” Beitzel said, “and I think if anyone looks at some of the bills that I’ve passed and issues I’ve defended … I have absolutely no problem defending my record.”
Stanton said he intends to file with the Garrett County Board of Elections shortly after Jan. 1. He has spent the last few months distributing literature at events across the district, from the Garrett County Fair in August to the District 1 delegation meeting with the public this month at Garrett College.
Deadline for candidates to file for local and state offices is 9 p.m. July 6. The primary election is set for Sept. 14. The general election is slated for Nov. 2.
Many people seem to understand that people living in Garrett and Allegany counties share a different set of concerns than people living in most other parts of the state. But understanding that is not good enough, he said.
“I don’t believe it’s enough to simply understand the problems,” Stanton said. “We must have representation that can state the nature of our issues and the impact of those to people who have never been to our area. It demands that we have representation that can work with those other jurisdictions and to advocate for our corner of the world.
“I think there are a lot of areas where we need improvement in the effectiveness of our representation,” Stanton said.
Stanton said the person who holds the District 1A seat needs to better communicate to the rest of the General Assembly how adversely more rural counties, towns and communities are impacted by state budget cuts. The legislator needs to file amendments to bills with statewide ramifications instead of allowing the “cookie-cutter” bill to sail through the legislative process. Those amendments could make certain bills more palatable to Mountain Marylanders’ diets.
Second, Stanton said, new legislation is needed that “protects our culture, our way of life, our economic situation, in comparison to the rest of the state.”
Stanton said a third area of improvement required for District 1A is better constituent service.
Officials in both counties sometimes “encounter a situation with a state agency that sometimes the state agency is not as responsive as it could be,” he said. “Effective representation means working with those agencies in order to solve the problem … and solve it appropriately.”
Stanton is a former three-term Oakland Town Council member and was elected by his fellow council members five times to the position of council president. In 2006, he was elected chairman of the Garrett County Democratic Central Committee.