Carroll Republicans Gain Stronger Control, As Democrats Wince

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December 30, 1990|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

Republicans took command in Carroll last year, both in elected offices and on voter rolls, leaving county Democrats to wonder how they can stem the GOP tide.

GOP candidates won nine of 10 elected county positions on the ballot in the November election, as Carroll voters registered their conservative preferences.

Republicans gained a majority over Democrats in voter registration in Carroll last year for the first time since the 1950s (when records were first kept), with Republicans numbering 26,015 voters and Democrats 25,084.

In perhaps the most significant GOP triumph of 1990, political newcomer Larry E. Haines defeated Democrat Jeff Griffith, who had served the last eight years as commissioner, for state Senate.

The election of former Manchester Mayor Elmer C. Lippy Jr. to commissioner was the Democrats' only bright spot on the county level, but Republicans maintained control of the office.

Republican Donald I. Dell's "Keep It Country" slogan, an appeal to residents' desire for stronger growth-management, helped the Westminster farmer win the most votes. Republican Julia W. Gouge, the only incumbent running, weathered an atmosphere of discontent with the prior administration to keep her job.

In the biggest surprise of the election, Republican John H. Brown defeated two-term Democrat Grover N. "Sam" Sensabaugh for sheriff. The outcome could have boiled down to money. Brown attacked Sensabaugh for advocating expansion of the Sheriff's Department into a countywide police force, saying it would lead to tax increases. Sensabaugh argued a change was necessary because the county couldn't rely on the state's Resident Trooper Program increasing to match Carroll's growth.

In a bitter battle marked by mudslinging, Republican County State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman gained a fifth term by narrowly defeating Jerry F. Barnes, his former assistant who changed parties to run against his old boss.

Republicans won all the judicial jobs -- Clerk of Carroll Circuit Court, Register of Wills and three Orphans' Court judge positions.

The six-member General Assembly delegation remained evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Maintaining seats by comfortable margins were Delegates Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard, and Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore. Sen. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, Frederick, Howard, was unopposed. Haines replaced Republican Sharon W. Hornberger in the Senate.

In a Board of Education race that came down to absentee ballots, Ann M.

Ballard, a Mount Airy PTA activist, defeated Robert L. Fletcher, a 12-year member. Joseph D. Mish Jr., a retired teacher, won the other open seat.

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