September 2, 2010

Activism brought Kach to 36 years in Annapolis

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By Megan Poinski
Megan@MarylandReporter.com

Thirty-six years ago, a developer was building a shoddy development near Kernan Hospital – and Wade Kach decided to do something about it.

The Baltimore County Republican said that there was wide outcry among area residents that the developer was not following building codes. The developer refused to listen to residents’ complaints, and insinuated he owned the county and could do what he wanted. So Kach took the next step, and ran for the House of Delegates.

After being sworn into office in 1975, Kach forced more stringent inspections of the development, which turned up several building code violations. The violations were fixed, and the development still stands today, Kach said.

“Up to that point, no one was listening to what we had to say,” he said.

This began a long career of legislation to address issues faced by Kach’s constituents. His district lines and numbers have changed several times, and he now represents single-member District 5B in northern Baltimore County. (In the 1980s, he shared a three-member district with Dels. Bob Ehrlich and Ellen Sauerbrey, who would both run for governor.)

Kach, a retired teacher and school auditor, has sponsored several bills dealing with youth issues and the financial conundrums of the health insurance industry. Returning to the roots of his political activism, he has also sponsored several bills to reform the building and construction industry. A homeowners’ consumer group he formed inspired legislation that added more regulation to the custom home industry, as well as to license homebuilders in the state.

“Issues come up, and you need to have someone with experience to come in, jump in and help, and that person will be successful in helping them,” Kach said. “That is one of the reasons I am seeking re-election.”

One of the biggest problems ahead is a looming budget shortfall of about $2 billion next year. He and other GOP colleagues have a plan to cut $1 billion more in spending, but they need with the members of the new General Assembly to make those cuts reality.

Fiscal expertise needed

“It is important that people who are knowledgeable about the budget, who understand waste and inefficiencies, be there the next four years to assist the new governor in the challenge before us,” he said.

Kach has found other issues to address in Annapolis. He met with parents of children who were not doing well in school – and found out the children’s failure had a lot to do with single parents not being around. Those parents, Kach found, were sometimes working multiple jobs in order to make up for child support payments they were not receiving. He proposed legislation to strengthen child support laws.

In his more than three decades in the General Assembly, Kach said that he has seen Annapolis go from a place where most officials work together to a much more partisan and polarized atmosphere. Votes on controversial issues tend to be split on party lines nowadays, and attempts to work across party lines are viewed with increasing suspicion.

“You have to establish that you are there to solve problems, not to purposely come up with issues to embarrass the other side,” he said.

In one bipartisan move, it was Kach who offered an amendment to the 2007 constitutional amendment on slot casino locations that required them to comply with local zoning ordinances — the provision that fueled the controversy over the  site at the Arundel Mills mall. Kach’s amendment was adopted quickly by voice vote.

Kach said most of his nine re-election bids have been challenging. In this year’s Republican primary, he goes head to head with Chris Luciano and Tom Morgan for the party’s nomination to the single district seat. The winner of that primary will face Democrat Pete Definbaugh and Libertarian Justin Kinsey in the general election.

Kach said he has been out campaigning, using the Internet and traditional means to keep his message before his constituents.

“I’ve been there 36 years, and the people can recognize the hard work I’ve done,” he said. “The main thing for me to do is represent their views. That is why I’m there.”