News Column

Eight Republicans seek two spots for delegates in District 31B

June 7, 2014

ZOE READ; By ZOE READ zread@capgaznews.com

Brian Chisholm

Occupation: Mortgage banker.

Home: Severna Park.

Bio: Chisholm has been in the mortgage lending business for 13 years, specializing in lending to our nation's veterans and servicemen. He is an entrepreneur and, for the past eight years, has owned a small business investing in both commercial and residential real estate around Maryland.

Campaign finance: Chisholm has raised several thousand dollars through campaign fundraisers and direct donations. Some of his biggest contributors include Linda Rohleder, James Bragg, Steve Mitchell, Michael Destanos and Thomas Jones. He also has loaned his campaign several thousand dollars.

Paul Drgos

Occupation: Computer programmer.

Home: Pasadena.

Bio: Paul Drgos has made a living as a computer programmer for the last 22 years and, for the last 10 years, has been leading a software company based in Beltsville. He ran as a Libertarian for Congress in 2012.

Campaign finance: Drgos has raised a few hundred dollars, campaign finance records show.

Don Dwyer

Occupation: Delegate.

Home: Pasadena.

Bio: Dwyer was elected to the House of Delegates in 2002. He has served on several committees in the House, but was stripped of his assignments in the most recent session after being sentenced to 60 days in jail for drunken driving and boating.

Campaign finance: Dwyer has raised tens of thousands of dollars, most of it through the sale of gun raffles, campaign finance records show. His two largest contributors are Penderbrooke Limited Partnership, a development company, and AA Recycle & Sand.

Nic Kipke

Occupation: Manufacturer's representative.

Home: Pasadena.

Bio: Since 2001, Kipke has worked as a territory manager for Reps & Associates, a factory representation organization that markets company products. Kipke was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 2006 when he was 26 years old. In 2010, he was re- elected to a second term and last year was chosen House minority leader.

Campaign finance: Kipke has raised several thousand dollars, campaign finance record show. Some of his largest contributors include EpicPharm PAC and the House Republican Victory Slate.

Gus Kurtz

Occupation: Business owner.

Home: Pasadena.

Bio: Kurtz has been a small business owner for more than 25 years, operating Sports and Imports, Inc. and Kurtz Development, LLC.

Campaign finance: Kurtz has raised thousands of dollars, much of it in small donations. His biggest donors include his own $6,000 in contributions, as well as money from Bonnie and Mike Dausch, Carl Klapski and Dick Roede.

Faith Loudon

Occupation: Unknown.

Home: Pasadena.

Bio: Loudon ran for Congress in 2010 and has been a member of the Republican Central Committee and worked for U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, state Sen. Bryan Simonaire and former Del. Victoria Schade.

Campaign finance: Loudon has raised no funds in this election cycle, campaign finance records show.

Meagan Simonaire

Occupation: Cosmetologist.

Home: Pasadena.

Bio: Simonaire is a cosmetologist with a degree from Bob Jones University in South Carolina. She has volunteered for local and national Republican candidates, testifying before committees in Annapolis and initiating legislative requests.

Campaign finance: Simonaire has raised a few thousand dollars, most of it in small donations. Her largest donors were Fred Simonaire and Gene Winters. She also received $500 from Del. Steve Schuh.

David Lee Therrien

Occupation: Real estate executive.

Home: Pasadena.

Bio: Therrien is a retired Navy officer and former chief technology officer for Keller Williams. He is currently the chairman of the board and senior partner with Keller Williams'Flagship Realty of Maryland. He sat on the legislation committee for Anne Arundel County Association of Realtors.

Campaign finance: Therrien has not reported raising any funds.

Two Republican delegates are running for re-election in the newly formed District 31B, which includes Pasadena, portions of Glen Burnie, Millersville and Severna Park.

In the June 24 primary, they will face Gus Kurtz, Meagan Simonaire, Paul Drgos, Brian Chisholm, David Therrien and Faith Loudon -- all of them hoping to win a spot on the November general election ballot.

One of the incumbents is House Minority Leader Nic Kipke. He was first elected in 2006 at age 26.

"Eight years ago I was just like you and decided to get involved because I care for our community, I care for our state and I want to be a resource and be helpful from a public policy perspective and a neighborhood community perspective," Kipke said.

Del. Don Dwyer also is seeking another term. He has been a delegate for 12 years.

"I have fought for property rights, individual rights and defending the constitutional rights of the people of Pasadena and the surrounding area," Dwyer said.

Dwyer also has been in the news for personal behavior. He was convicted of drunken boating and driving for accidents in 2012 and 2013, and sentenced to 60 days in jail. He has since completed an alcohol treatment program.

"I've addressed (my issues), I feel great about it, I feel blessed to be in the condition that I'm in and recovered to the point I've recovered," he said.

"There shouldn't be a question in anyone's mind if I have effectively represented them in legislature and will and can represent them effectively in the legislature."

At 23, Simonaire is the youngest candidate in the field. She has a cosmetology degree and works at a facility that offers reconstructive surgery.

The daughter of state Sen. Bryan Simonaire, she has testified before the House and Senate on various legislation.

"I am excited and hopeful to take my fresh ideas to Annapolis to help change an arena that is disconnected from the people they claim to serve," she said.

Drgos is a computer programmer who, for the last 10 years, has been leading a software company in Beltsville. He ran as a Libertarian for Congress in 2012 and, although he has changed parties, many of his ideas have not changed.

"I believe everyone should have equal rights -- everybody should be looked at the same under the law -- but I believe we don't need laws to control morals or how people are looked at," he said.

Kurtz has been a small business owner for more than 25 years, operating Sports and Imports and Kurtz Development. This is his first bid for office.

"When you talk about government and business, they go together because the government needs to be run more like a business," he said. "And you can't run a government like a business unless you have business people."

Simonaire has attacked Kurtz for changing parties. He was a registered Democrat for about eight years. He said he switched at the request of the late state Sen. Mike Wagner, a longtime friend, but changed back after the conservative Democrat left office.

"When I really look inside, my values are more Republican than Democrat and I switched back to Republican," Kurtz said.

Chisholm has been in the mortgage lending business for 13 years, specializing in lending to veterans and service members. For the past eight years, he has owned a small business investing in commercial and residential real estate.

This is Chisholm's first bid for office.

"I try to instil in my son a belief system: If you see a chance to make a change or serve in a way to help others, I say stand up and fight," he said.

Loudon ran for Congress in 2010, losing to Rep. Donna Edwards in the 4th District. She has worked for several Republican elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, state Sen. Simonaire and former Del. Victoria Schade.

Therrien is a retired Naval officer; he said he was the chief of police on Guam, and is currently a senior partner with Keller Williams Flagship Realty of Maryland. He sat on the legislative committee for the Anne Arundel County Association of Realtors for several years.

"I'm at a point in life where I've done a great many things and I've looked at where we're going as a state," he said. "I'm not satisfied with the direction and I want to work to improve it."

Several of the candidates say when they knock on doors, people tell them they are burdened by taxes, specifically the stormwater management fee critics call the "rain tax."

"It doesn't look equitable to me, it doesn't look like it's going to get the job done," Therrien said.

Dwyer said he's concerned the rain tax won't solve the environmental issues that are polluting the Chesapeake Bay.

"It's very frustrating for me when we continue to impose rain taxes and restrictions on waterways, and government doesn't step up to address its own problems," he said.

Simonaire said she believes the high taxation is spending and proposed several cuts. She would work to cut back aid to students whose parents brought them to the country without documentation authorized under the Dream Act.

"I would get the spending under control first because we can't lower taxes sufficiently when we have out of control spending in government," she said.

Kipke said one of the agents that has wasted money in Maryland is health care, specifically the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act in Maryland. The state's website has been heavily criticized, and the state is moving to adopt a system development in another state.

"We all want Marylanders to be covered and have access to quality, affordable health care, but as important as it is, nearly $200 million has been wasted because of a hands-off approach," he said.

Loudon said she believes there needs to be a moratorium on new state spending for at least the next four years.

"We could do this if we work together and expose what's going on," she said.

The candidates all expressed strong opinions on education, calling for an elected Board of Education in Anne Arundel County, more charter schools and rejecting education reform being implemented through the Common Core curriculum.

"I don't like how political Common Core seems to be," Drgos said. "It seems to be introducing a lot of liberal idealism into their education."

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Source: Maryland Gazette (MD)


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