Willis to run for House of Delegates

April 05, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

Westminster Democrat Ellen L. Willis officially began her campaign yesterday for a District 5 delegate seat by saying residents must take responsibility for solving county problems.

"Our legislative process has become one of tossing out superficial solutions," she said. "I wish to help refocus responsibility back to the citizens of Carroll County."

Ms. Willis, who ran for a House of Delegates seat four years ago and lost, announced her candidacy under red, white and blue bunting draped over the front porch of her home in the 100 block of Willis St. About 45 supporters gathered in her yard in the late afternoon to hear the announcement.

She is one of three Democrats and five Republicans vying for three Carroll delegate seats.

If she is elected, Ms. Willis could "change the dynamics of Carroll County politics," said L. Gregory Pecoraro, chairman of the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee.

For example, she would have a larger voter base -- and thus, more potential clout -- in the county than Del. Lawrence A. LaMotte, the current District 5B Democrat who often disagreed with the Carroll delegation's other five members on social and fiscal issues.

As the result of redistricting in 1991 that takes effect in this year's election, the 5th District will no longer include part of Baltimore County, will not be divided into subdistricts 5A and 5B, and will gain a third delegate seat next year.

Mr. LaMotte, whose district is mostly in Baltimore County, represents only two Carroll precincts. He will be running this fall in the redrawn District 11, which includes Owings Mills, Glyndon, Reisterstown and Pikesville.

Mr. Pecoraro said that, because Mr. LaMotte is a Baltimore County resident, he has not been seen as much of "a player" in Carroll politics.

When Ms. Willis ran for a District 5A seat in 1990, she came in third behind two incumbents -- Del. Richard N. Dixon, a Democrat in office since 1983; and Del. Richard C. Matthews, a Republican who has been in office since 1967.

Mr. Matthews was the top vote-getter in the race with 13,093. Mr. Dixon received 12,931 votes and Ms. Willis got 10,377. There was no Democratic primary in 1990.

In a short speech yesterday, Ms. Willis said, "I've chosen to run for public office out of a very strong sense of responsibility. Carroll County has been good to me and my family."

Ms. Willis said her campaign will focus on education, economic development, public safety and effective, efficient government.

One of her strengths, she said, is the ability to bring together people who have different interests and expertise to solve problems.

Ms. Willis, 46, is married to Robert Miller and has two children. She has worked at Carroll Community College for the past eight years and now is director of business and industry training.

Previously, she was an assistant director of economic development for Carroll County. From 1977 to 1983, she owned the Forget Me Not shop on Main Street. She is a member and former chairwoman of the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee.

Other candidates in the delegate race on the Democratic ticket are Mr. Dixon and Philip R. Deitchman of Eldersburg. Mr. Deitchman ran for a District 5B seat in 1986 and finished third.

Republicans who have announced their candidacies are Mr. Matthews, W. David Blair of Manchester, Jerome J. Joyce of Hampstead, Joseph H. Mettle of Eldersburg and Nancy R. Stocksdale of Westminster. Mr. Joyce and Mr. Mettle also ran and lost in 1990.

Carroll Commissioner Julia W. Gouge, a Hampstead Republican, has said she is considering running for a delegate seat.

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