Eastern Shore delegation ‘ready to get going’

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A few days before Maryland’s 435th legislative session began on Wednesday, Delegate Carl Anderton was eager for the challenge.

“This is a whole new world,” said the first-time delegate, a Republican representing District 38B.

“I don’t want to go in there and ballyhoo and say, ‘We’re going to do this, that and the other.’ You really have to take it slow. I always want to have everybody on the same page. The way I’ve always done things is with a team effort. I want to make sure I don’t waste a minute,” he said.

Anderton, who defeated longtime Delegate Norman Conway last fall, is anticipating deep cuts to balance the budget,  but hopes they will be, “smart, so we don’t notice anything different here on the Shore.”

“But then again, Maryland governors are the strongest governors in the union when it comes to control over the budget, so we’ll see collectively how that goes,” he said.

He’s pleased with his appointment to the Environment and Transportation Committee, because he feels it most affects Delmarva residents.

Declaring he’s “ready to get going,” Anderton said before the session, he worked with local officials, discussing the tax differential in Wicomico County that also affects Dorchester, Worcester and Somerset.

“But, Wicomico and Dorchester are the only two in the state where municipalities receive no set-off whatsoever. Some counties, like Worcester, get municipal grants,” he said.

Jake Day, president of the Salisbury City Council, asked the delegate to try and help Evolution Craft Brewing, whose owners want to expand capacity. “There’s a law in Maryland that prohibits that. I hope to help them stay in business,” Anderton, a Delmar resident, said.

“The Downtown Plaza is really booming now,” he said, calling the New Year’s Eve celebration and ball drop “great.”

“You could really feel the momentum growing back in downtown,” he said.

In nearby Berlin, legislation passed allowing the sale of beer and adult beverages outdoors. Salisbury is hoping for similar legislation, he said.

“We have a spirit of cooperation already, which is great. There doesn’t need to be any legislative change at all if the counties and municipalities work it out on their own. If they don’t we will have to go with another angle,” he said.

Anderton said his office won’t be his alone, but belong to all constituents’, and he will welcome their visits to Annapolis, where many politicians stop at Chick and Ruth’s Delly for lunch. Some have sandwiches named for them. If that honor is ever bestowed on Anderton, he said with a laugh, it would be a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich topped with scrapple.

Delegate Chris Adams, of Hebron, also holding office for the first time, plans to concentrate on career opportunities, better salaries and taxes during the legislative session.

“A lot of people choose to live elsewhere, where the opportunities are better. The challenge is to create opportunities here on the Shore by getting government out of the way, reducing regulations and reducing taxes,” the president of Value Carpet One Floor and Home said during a recent conversation.

A  Republican representing District 37B, he wants to make opportunities available, so youth educated on the Shore will continue to live and work here.

A strong supporter of education, Adams said teachers love to teach, but not just to see students pass mandated tests. “It’s a universal challenge in education right now,” said Adams, the father of three.

“We will go into Annapolis right off the bat with a tremendous budget challenge. I think that’s going to trump all. We won’t be able to balance the budget with taxes. We have to grow the economy and grow our way out of this deficit. There has to be a bipartisan solution and we have to address this together. You just don’t cut your way out of $1.2 billion,” he said. Adams was appointed to the Economic Matters committee.

He said he will listen to Gov. Larry Hogan’s plans before deciding where cuts would be best.

“As a small businessman, I carried the theme when I was campaigning that I thought was very uplifting. I am going to bring a relatively unique experience to Annapolis and that’s exciting because of my experience as a small businessman,” he said.

“We’ve struggled through the same things a lot of these other companies have had. I’m excited about it. To be a little bit anxious about it, it’s just human nature,” Adams said.

State Senator Adelaide Eckardt defeated longtime Sen. Richard Colburn in the primary, and Christopher Robinson in the November election. The Republican is upbeat about the new legislative session and representing District 37, which includes parts of Dorchester, Caroline, Talbot and Wicomico counties.

“Just when I thought I might retire from the political arena after more than 24 years, I found myself in the middle of a senate campaign and we won,” the Cambridge resident wrote in a holiday message shared with the Independent.

Improving the state economy can be done “by addressing the state budget deficit, retaining and growing existing businesses, recruiting new ones, developing our workforce, maintaining a strong education system and stabilizing our health care delivery system,” she said.

She listed high-priority issues as the budget deficit, stimulating the economy, relocating Shore Health Memorial Hospital in Easton, building the  Dover Bridge, health care reform, the heroin epidemic, a tax policy and oyster restoration.

Because counties and towns have lost highway user revenues, Eckardt plans to introduce legislation to restore them.

“I will also initiate legislation to decrease the corporate income tax so that it is more in line with our surrounding states. I will continue incentives for activities to revitalize and maintain our municipalities — Cambridge, Easton and Salisbury,” she said.

Eckardt said she has been working with the transition teams as they have reviewed all the agencies of state government.

“Having spent the last 12 years on the House Appropriations Committee, it is no surprise that I have been assigned to the Senate Budget and Tax committee. There are major issues regarding technology that will need to be addressed as health care reform, in whatever shape it takes, continues,” she said.

“Sixty-eight new legislators — 10 are new Shore legislators — have demonstrated the energy and will to work for the constituents as problems are identified and solutions developed. I am so very thankful for this opportunity,” she said.

Sen. Jim Mathias returned to Annapolis for his third term, the second as senator, joking that he’s earned every one of his gray hairs.

“I used to say gray, but now they are silver,” the former Ocean City mayor said, with a laugh.

A resident of Ocean City, the Democrat, who represents District 38, said he will work to strengthen relationships he’s established in the Senate and House and build new ones.

Among priorities are post-Labor Day starting dates for schools and alternative energy production.

“There are going to be budget reductions. We’re going to work our way through that … tax increases are certainly not the way to balance the budget. We want to make sure the Eastern Shore remains a wonderful place to call home,” he said.

He’s interested in protecting industries to keep educated young people on the Shore and protecting pensions of retirees.

For the first time, Mathias will return to Annapolis without his friend and mentor, Delegate Conway, who he highly praised.

“There is not a project you can look at, not an accomplishment on the Lower Shore in the last 28 years, that doesn’t have Norm’s fingerprints,” Mathias said.

“When we went to the legislature about beach replenishment, when we went to the legislature about a hospital in Worcester County, about a convention center, about highway dualization, about higher education facilities, when fire companies went to him – all these things – he listened and he helped,” Mathias said.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have good partners. When you look at the reality of accomplishments through some very difficult economic times, I’m certain, we hold Chairman Conway in the highest esteem.”

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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