Howard growth opponent joins the Democrats Taylor will run for election again

September 29, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

John W. Taylor, admitting that he has been "a bit harsh" while crusading to slow the pace of the county's development, changed his voter registration yesterday from Republican to Democrat.

"I don't believe that the Republican leadership is responsive to the citizens of the county. I believe they're responsive to businesses and developers of the county," said Mr. Taylor, a Highland resident and president of Howard Countians For Responsible Growth.

Mr. Taylor, 38, lost by about 240 votes in a 1990 primary that almost unseated County Councilman Charles C. Feaga, one of the county's Republican standard-bearers.

Mr. Taylor said he will oppose Mr. Feaga again for the west county 5th District seat, provided he does not run against County Executive Charles I. Ecker.

It was the Republican leadership's loyalty to Mr. Feaga, whom Mr. Taylor refused to endorse after the primary, that also helped bring about the party switch.

Among Mr. Taylor's complaints was that he was shut out of a group of Republicans sharing polling information before the primary, and that a Republican Central Committee redistricting proposal would have cut him out of the 5th District.

Carol Arscott, who was chairwoman of the central committee in 1990, said it would have been a conflict of interest for the polling company, Mason-Dixon Opinion Research of Columbia, to work for opposing candidates, and Mr. Taylor was referred to other companies.

Asked whether the redistricting proposal was intended to cut Mr. Taylor off from his supporters, Ms. Arscott called the issue "ancient history."

"John thinks the world revolves around him. I hate to break it to him, but it does not," she said, denying Mr. Taylor's charge.

While he believes he was short-changed by the Republicans, Mr. Taylor believes he can get along better with Democrats -- even those whom he has disparaged in battles over the county's General Plan, plans for a Clarksville bypass and comprehensive rezoning of the western county.

"I think I can work with the Democrats, and they apparently think they can work with me," he said, explaining that had been considering the switch and discussing it confidentially with Democratic leaders for about two years.

"I don't think anybody would begrudge the party a good candidate," said Kathryn Mann, treasurer of the county Democratic Central Committee and regional vice president of the state Democratic party. "I was favorably impressed with the things that he talked about with me."

"John ran a hell of a campaign three years ago. He came within a whisker of beating Charlie," Ms. Mann said.

She also noted that Mr. Taylor has been conciliatory toward county Democrats he may have been at odds with in the past.

"I think he felt that he had misjudged some people and regretted that," Ms. Mann said.

"John certainly is not the first Democrat who is not necessarily perceived to be in the mainstream," she added.

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