'Subdued' Election Campaign A Switch For Mount Airy

'People Don't Know Or Care' About Race For Three Council Seats

April 26, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

MOUNT AIRY — It's election time here, but the arena has been quiet. The politicians are going door-to-door, posting signs and passing leaflets in a low-key campaign.

"It's been kind of subdued -- the way it should be," said William E. Wagner Jr., a town councilman seeking his second term.

"Everybody's running on his own merits, not trying to make someone look bad for personal gain," said Wagner, co-owner of Mount Airy Locker Co.

Past elections in this town of about 4,000 people haven'talways

been as genteel. Divisive mayoral elections polarized the town in 1988 and 1990.

This year, there is no mayoral election; in1989, the council voted to increase the mayor's term from two years to four.

On the ballot in the May 4 election are three incumbents and two challengers running for three council seats.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, Louise W. Leatherwood invited about 20 residents to her home to meet the two challengers. Only 12 attended. She was disappointed.

"People don't know or care about what's going on," saidLeatherwood, a member of the Mount Airy Citizens Coalition and a town resident for 50 years. "I tried."

She is supporting challenger James R. Lumadue, 45, who has experience as a councilman in a Pennsylvania town.

"I think he's a very conscientious young man," the 82-year-old said.

Lumadue, a designer drafter at C.A.E. Link Corp. in Silver Spring, said he is a member of the coalition. When he moved here five years ago, he said he decided to stay out of politics -- he didn't register to vote until this year.

But a group of people -- some of them coalition members -- has been asking him to run for abouta year, he said.

Coalition Chairwoman Barbara Darneal said, "We try to support people for town government who we think will be very conservative when it comes to spending tax dollars."

The coalition -- formed in 1989 when former Mayor Linda R. Boyer proposed to raise taxes -- has about 11 active members, Darneal said.

Lumadue, a member of the town's Board of Appeals, said he wants to control growth and prevent tax increases.

The other challenger is Philip R. Dorsey,50, a retired Montgomery County employee who worked for 24 years in that county's retail and wholesale liquor stores. Dorsey also has thesupport of the coalition, although he said he is not a member.

Dorsey has lived here for 11 years and said he was Mayor Gerald R. Johnson's campaign manager two years ago. Dorsey is a member of the town's Ethics Commission.

"I don't consider myself a politician," he said. "But I love Mount Airy, and I feel I'm in a position to give it some of my time."

Dorsey said he wants to keep the present tax rateand provide activities for young residents.

The three incumbents said they are spending time campaigning and are taking the challengers' candidacies seriously.

David W. Pyatt, 49, a nuclear engineer for the U.S. Department of Energy, said he is expecting a low voter turnout.

"There's really no interest," he said last week after having visited about 100 homes in his campaigning.

"People in Mount Airy are very quiet. A lot don't tell you what they think," said Pyatt, who has lived here since 1977 and is seeking a second term.

He hasbeen active in parks and recreation work and said he will continue to work to build a community swimming pool at Watkins Park.

Marcum N. Nance, 35, an engineer at Fairchild Space Co. in Germantown, is seeking his first full term. He was appointed in 1989 to fill a vacancy.

Nance likes the quiet election climate.

"I think it's excellent for the incumbents. Incumbents have the advantage of years of exposure and name recognition," said Nance, a resident for six years.

He has been responsible for overseeing the town's roads department and said he would like to finish planned improvements to the intersection of Ridge Road, Ridge Avenue and Ridgeville Boulevard.

Wagner, 52, a town native, has been active in the town's recycling efforts andsaid he would like to continue that work. He also wants to make suregrowth doesn't overburden schools, parks, streets and other services.

Council members earn $25 per meeting; the council has one regularly scheduled meeting a month. Members serve four-year terms.

The polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 4 at the Mount Airy Fireman's Activity Building on Twin Arch Road.

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