For a number of years, The Carroll County Sun has published a Carroll County League of Women Voters Guide for all municipal, county, state and federal elections.
We publish the non-partisan guide as a public service to our readers, as an addition to our news coverage of the various races. It's another opportunity for candidates to share their views with the electorate.
Candidates are asked questions on the top issues affecting their constituents, and their answers appear as submitted. All candidates are asked the same questions as others running for the same office andgiven a set word limit for their answers.
This month, seven municipalities have mayoral and council elections.
Out of the 35 candidates this year, four did not respond to the questionnaire:
* Tim Ferguson, seeking re-election to Sykesville's council.
* Charles Mullins, also seeking re-election to Sykesville's council.
* Carole Norbeck, a challenger seeking a Sykesville council seat.
* Earl A.J. "Tim" Warehime Jr., running unopposed for mayor in Manchester (although he did send in his bio).
All four received letters with the questionnaires weeks ago, and were called again with reminders.
I am surprised that Norbeck, as a challenger, didn't respond. Why miss an opportunity for additional voter contact -- especially when you consider that we're mailing the Voters Guide to non-subscribers, virtually blanketing the county?
And I'm disappointed that Warehime didn't answer the questions. While he's unopposed, voters still deserve to know where the mayoral candidate stands on such issues as growth, recycling and the hiring of a professional town manager.
But is anyone really surprised that Ferguson and Mullins didn't deign to respond?
They couldn't be bothered taking perhaps 20 minutes to answer four questions on the town's three most immediate priorities, growth and adequate services, recycling, and the mayor-council relationship.
To me, it mirrors their general attitude of "We do what we want."
Tuesday night, I was one of six media representatives -- along with a LWV member -- asking questions of the seven council candidates in Westminster.
Incumbents Samuel V. Greenholtz and Mark S. Snyder are being challenged for three seats by Dennis Frazier, Michael Oakes, Rebecca A. Orenstein, Stephen R. Chapin Sr. and Kenneth A. Yowan (a former councilman).
As Dan Clemens reported in our Wednesday edition (and details further today on Page 5), issues ranged from thecontroversy over the need for a new City Hall to the bickering between the mayor and council to the proposed changes to the state's Open Meetings Law.
From the opening question on the City Hall, Greenholtz and Snyder were on the defensive. They found themselves constantlyat odds with the five challengers.
While almost anyone who's visited the current City Hall agrees more space is needed, all five challengers disagreed with the council's proposals. Tomorrow evening, the council is expected to adopt the fiscal 1992 budget (beginning July 1), which includes putting $1.3 million toward new office space; that's in addition to the $275,000 in the current year's budget.
But the council hasn't even received the final report from the consultant it hired to study office space needs, it has no idea how high the price tag will be and it is proposing to pay for the project out of cash reserves, instead of cutting taxes and selling bonds for the project.
The five challengers agreed the council should wait for the finalstudy, get exact costs, study the possibility of renting or buying existing office space (of which Westminster has plenty), and use bondsto finance the project.
I have to agree with the challengers and Mayor Ben Brown that once a decision is made, the project should be bonded. Financial experts -- such as the investment firms of Ferris, Baker, Watts Inc. and Legg Mason -- concur, especially with interest rates falling.
I don't know about you, but when I was in the marketfor a house, I knew how much I had to spend, had studied the market and went to the bank for a mortgage. I didn't try to pay for it in cash. (No, The Baltimore Sun doesn't pay that well.)
As a city taxpayer, I'd rather see $125,000 used to start a curbside recycling program. I can't believe Greenholtz and Snyder say we can't afford the $125,000 for recycling but we can afford $1.6 million for office space. And most of the rest of that huge cash surplus should go to reducing our high 91-cent property tax rate.