Second Time's the Charm HOWARD COUNTY

June 11, 1993

Congratulations to Roy T. Lyons. What should have been the outcome of the first election held in Columbia's Long Reach village happened the second time around. Mr. Lyons will be seated as a member of the Columbia Council during a board of directors meeting June 24. By every measure, his victory should be read as an endorsement for fair and democratic elections in Columbia.

That is not what occurred several weeks ago, when Mr. Lyons ran for the Columbia Council. His opponent, long-time councilwoman Gail Bailey, managed to pull off an apparent victory when two apartment complex owners overrode the popular vote by casting ballots for each of their tenants -- in Ms. Bailey's favor.

Acting on a legal opinion, the village board in Long Reach discarded those results and held a new election last Saturday. After a failed attempt by Ms. Bailey to have a Circuit Court judge block the new election, polling proceeded as planned.

Mr. Lyons showed dignity and fortitude throughout this affair.

As for Ms. Bailey, while some of her views have been valuable, particularly on the need to make the Columbia Association more fiscally responsible, her record has also been tarnished by divisiveness with and alienation from her council colleagues.

Even her response to being defeated last week indicated how out of touch she had become in a baldly personal effort to hold on to her seat. "It was unfair to hold a second election, with me taking the blame for what the village board did the second time around," she said. On the contrary, a second election was the only just option. And the only blame she may have suffered was due to her refusal to step aside. Even now, Ms. Bailey's attorney says the fight for her seat will grind on in court.

The only positive to come from this episode -- aside from Mr. Lyons' election -- is that it pointed up deficiencies in the way the Columbia Association elects representatives. Despite the correction made in Long Reach, the fact is that most village elections in Columbia do not operate under the democratic principal of one man, one vote. That must change. All residents have a right to fair input into what the association does on their behalf. After all, through Columbia taxes and membership fees, they are the ones footing the bill.

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