Clagett Reconsiders Decision To Cede Chairmanship

November 15, 1991|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

Saying she's not sure some of her colleagues are qualified, County Council Chairwoman Virginia P. Clagett is reconsidering her decision to step down as council leader.

Clagett, who has served as chairmanfor the last eight years, said Wednesday that she had been ready to cede the post to one of the other six council members. But after hearing that Councilwoman Diane R. Evans has been calling publicly for her departure, Clagett says she is not so sure she ought to step aside.

"I'm not stepping down just because Diane Evans says something," said Clagett, D-West River. "If she's going to take that position, I may reconsider. If I had the votes, I would take (the chairmanship) back. I'm not so sure these people are of the stature to be fair-minded."

The council chooses its chairman annually during its first December meeting. The seat carries more prestige than power, though the chairman does preside over and set the tone of meetings.

Last year, three council members -- Clagett, David G. Boschert, D-Crownsville,and George Bachman, D-Linthicum -- wanted to be chairman. This year,it's not so simple.

Bachman, who was chairman for many years during the 1970s, says he's not interested. Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, says she has not been lobbying for the post. Clagett didn't want the job again, but says she refuses to be bullied out of it byEvans.

Boschert, the current vice chairman, is widely considered the most likely candidate. But even he is downplaying his interest. "I'm not actively pursuing it, contrary to popular opinion," he said.

"Give me a break," Clagett responded. "Mr. Boschert has wanted to be chairman since the time he got on the council. There's no questionabout that."

Lamb agreed. "Dave has been pursuing it forever," she said. "He wants the chairmanship above everything."

Clagett saidshe'd support Lamb for either the chairmanship or vice chairmanship.Lamb, who has been under the impression that Clagett was bowing out,said she has promised Boschert her support.

No one else is sayingwho they support.

Evans, R-Arnold, does say who she won't support: Clagett. "Virginia has served well and done a good job, but I thinkit's time a new person took the helm," she said. "I will be looking for someone more in line with my conservative philosophy."

Since her election a year ago, Evans frequently has criticized the chairwoman and verbally ambushed her at public council meetings.

Just a month ago, Evans called for reconsideration of Clagett's resolution to create a scenic roads commission because, she said, Clagett didn't give other council members time to review it. All council members, including Evans, had approved the resolution a week earlier, and Clagett sent them a letter asking for suggestions for people to serve on the commission.

Earlier, Evans introduced several important amendments to Clagett's bill regulating sand and gravel operations without consulting her.

Asked about her differences with Clagett, Evans said she has been left out and not kept abreast of issues.

The usually unflappable Clagett denies this hotly, calling it an example of "puerile infighting."

Evans, she said, "is the immature person who's bordering on dishonesty with her colleagues. She simply has got to learn how to work with people. She accuses them of not doing their homework. She accuses them of not being prepared. She has a lack of honor with people who should be her colleagues."

Others on the council alsoare irritated with Evans.

"What's happening on the council is that we just ignore her," said Councilman Edward Middlebrooks, D-Severn."We only need four votes; we don't need seven. We just don't ask forher input on issues."

Clagett said she decided at least six months ago that she would not seek the chairmanship again for personal reasons. "I told my family and friends months ago that I need to do other things with my life," she said.

In some other counties, the council chairman is elected at-large by the people. But in Anne Arundel, the chairman has a heavier burden -- having to represent a specific district while building consensus for the wants of the entire county, Clagett said.

"The chairmanship does force you to look at things alittle differently than when you can sit back and rant and rave any way you want," she said.

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