New district gets first candidate Waste disposal, Route 100 are among issues

August 01, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

Ellicott City Democrat George L. Layman says he doesn't want a career as a politician, he just wants to be a county councilman for a little while.

"I have been urged by a number of people to run" in 1994 for a seat in the newly created Elkridge-Ellicott City district, he said. "I'm seen both in the community and in the Democratic Party as a consensus builder -- someone who involves all parties, getting people to the table and talking about issues."

When Mr. Layman last week became the first person in either party to file for the 1994 council race, he limited himself to raising funds for this campaign only.

Most candidates form so-called continuing committees that follow them throughout their political careers and allow them to raise funds without having to declare which offices they are seeking. Mr. Layman, 50, said he is opposed to that philosophy. Money raised during a campaign should be spent solely on the current campaign, he said.

No stranger to politics, Mr. Layman works as executive director of the Montgomery County Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and serves on the Howard County Board of Appeals. He will be eligible for reappointment to the Appeals Board in December but must resign that position if elected to the council.

Solid waste disposal and completion of Route 100 are two main issues facing the next council, Mr. Layman said. His concern is talk he hears about putting a trash incinerator in Elkridge.

"The people don't want it," he said, and if a proposal to put it there comes before the council, "it will be one of the biggest issues to come up. I have not seen any plans to put it there, but there are not a lot of options. We need to look at all the options we have. I would ask that we look at other locations [where an incinerator] would not be detrimental."

As for Route 100, "I hope to see it opening by 1998," Mr. Layman said, "but some communities are going to need help with things like sound barriers."

It is the development of Route 100 that turned Mr. Layman into a civic activist. One of the early options called for the road to go through the Hunt Country Estates neighborhood where he then lived, taking his house.

Until he spoke at a public hearing, state and local officials were unaware his neighborhood existed. It turned out plans for the road had been based on aerial photographs taken two years before residents had moved in.

"They told us we weren't there," Mr. Layman said. "The last seven years have been horrendous. . . . I never fought development of Route 100, I fought the location."

In addition to dealing with solid waste disposal and assuring the completion of Route 100, the next council should continue its commitment to "the best school system in the state" and take steps to assure that everyone in the county will be given adequate mental and physical health care on demand, Mr. Layman said.

Mr. Layman is also concerned that the county strike a balance between the business community and managed growth. The latter has not occurred because there are too many loopholes in the county zoning law, he says.

"We should have a new General Plan every five to seven years and stick with it," he said. "There should be no amendments because of mistake or change. A lot of people are upset because the rules of the game keep changing. That's where you get activists."

According to Mr. Layman's figures, Democrats outnumber Republicans in his district by about 2,000 people.

"If it's Democrats vs. Republicans, I would win," he said. "But most people don't vote party lines. They vote for the person."

Mr. Layman said he plans to "tackle issues," not the past performance of the probable Republican candidate, Councilman Darrel Drown, a 2nd District Republican.

"I can't go out and down Darrel Drown," he said. "I have to present myself. I want a very positive campaign, not one built on somebody else's problems or performance."

Although he doesn't want to talk personalities, Mr. Layman does have some disappointment about the way the council has conducted it business. Too often, he believes, the council has held hearings past midnight, once laboring until 4 a.m.

The solution, he believes is for the council to work weekends, start earlier each evening, and stop at 11 p.m. Late-night meetings "don't lend themselves to having people comfortable, awake and listening," he said. "People are angry before they get up and testify."

It would also help for the council to become a full-time legislature or rid itself of its Liquor Board and Zoning Board responsibilities, Mr. Layman said. He hopes the county Compensation Review Board will study the issue and make a recommendation for 1994.

"I'm willing to commit full time," he said.

Mr. Layman estimates that it will cost between $20,000 and $60,000 to run for council, depending upon whether he will face a challenger in

the Democratic primary. He is planning a $30-a-person fund-raiser for October.

"I want the community there, not the heavy hitters," he said. "That's why we've kept it as low as we have. Hopefully, we'll raise $6,000 to $9,000 to pay for publicity costs and hopefully a poll."

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