Lippy brings government class to life for elementary students NORTH Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

October 15, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

What did Carroll County Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy want to be when he grew up?

A scientist.

And like the fifth-graders he spoke to yesterday at Manchester Elementary School, Mr. Lippy, a retired chemist, never gave much thought to a political career.

"Nobody wants to be an elected official," Mr. Lippy, 72, told the students.

"I've never heard anybody say they want to be county commissioner. All of us secretly want to be president of the United States."

On one of his frequent trips to Carroll schools, the affable Mr. Lippy, elected commissioner in 1990, came to paint a human face on government for three classes that have been studying federal, state and local government.

"Right now we're talking about local government," said Terri Pittinger, a fifth-grade teacher.

"They've been looking forward to this. They all know him and have been saying, 'Mr. Elmer is coming,' " the teacher said.

Also participating were the classes of Janet Haack and Kathy Bolesta.

"We've talked about county commissioners, and the kids have written some questions," Ms. Pittinger said.

Indeed. The questions from these future teachers, marine biologists and stockbrokers ranged from whom Mr. Lippy planned to vote for as president (he wouldn't say) to what he liked and disliked about being a county commissioner.

Some, recalling his former political post as Manchester mayor, asked whether he missed the role.

Mr. Lippy served as a Town Council member before his election as mayor.

"Yeah, in a way I do," Mr. Lippy said. "I knew so many people in town. People were always coming to me with their problems.

"I was the big cheese in town. Don't look at my figure, but I'm still the big cheese."

There also were more pertinent questions.

Students wanted to know his feelings on the proposed charter for Carroll, which would change how county government is structured and conducted, and on a recent brouhaha over a Pennsylvania sign that welcomed Maryland-bound motorists to the "State of Taxes."

Mr. Lippy said he opposed the charter measure because it would give a proposed five-member County Council too much power. He also said the suggested $7,500 annual salary was too low and would mean members would divide their time between the council and their occupations.

About the sign controversy, Mr. Lippy said there has been misunderstanding about his role. He said his concern stemmed from whether the sign was in a state right of way -- if so, Pennsylvania officials should know about it.

The sign was on private property, and the state removed it by mistake.

"If the sign is on private property, it's none of my businesses," he said. "These people were exercising their constitutional right. I don't have that much power to run into another state and take a sign down."

He said is willing to help put the sign back up -- on private property.

Mr. Lippy left the students with a few additional messages.

"You have to get an education," he said. "Don't waste your time now. Pursue your goals and get an education. You'll only be going this way once."

He also encouraged them and their parents to vote -- the class is having a mock presidential election next week -- "otherwise you get the kind of government you deserve."

Their parents will not only cast ballots for president on Nov. 3 but also on the proposed county charter.

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