Feaga to seek re-election to council

May 10, 1994|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Sun Staff Writer

County Councilman Charles C. Feaga, the Republican farmer who has represented western Howard County for eight years, announced yesterday that he'll seek another four-year term this fall.

The announcement sets the 61-year-old councilman up for a rematch with Highland growth-control activist John W. Taylor, 38, who lost to Mr. Feaga by 240 votes in the 1990 Republican primary.

Mr. Feaga stood in front of the open bays of the West Friendship firehouse yesterday to enjoy the admiration of his fellow Republican officeholders, led by County Executive Charles I. Ecker.

"He does not cow under for lobbyists," said the executive, who praised the western Ellicott City farmer for doing what he thinks is right, no matter what kind of pressure people exert.

In a speech announcing his candidacy, Mr. Feaga gave only a hint of his bitter rivalry with Mr. Taylor.

In February, Mr. Taylor criticized county Republican Party leaders as favoring Mr. Feaga and became a Democrat, so the two will be assured of meeting in the general election in November if no other candidates turn up.

"This I promise you: I will never use campaigning or the council office as a tool to frighten or alarm citizens needlessly. I believe most people want to be told the facts. When I raise a red flag, it will be for a purpose," Mr. Feaga said.

The councilman has often criticized Mr. Taylor -- the county's most vocal growth-control activist -- for distorting county growth policy and inciting crowds with hyperbolic warnings about the number of homes that would be built with new growth.

"It looks like the election-year Charlie is going to be predictably different from Councilman Charlie," Mr. Taylor said yesterday. "He's evidently trying to remake himself for the 1994 election."

Mr. Taylor brought up his repeated assertion -- which Mr. Feaga just as often disputes -- that the councilman opposed the 1990 General Plan because it restricted growth too much.

Apparently anticipating Mr. Taylor's remarks, Mr. Feaga listed his position on one of the county's hottest growth decisions as an example of working effectively with other council members.

"Even though I voted against the General Plan mixed-use concept, by bargaining with the other council members, we were able to reduce the density of a mixed-use area by major proportions."

Mr. Feaga also outlined his views on other issues, such as managing the county's waste. He said he believed the county needs to institute a variety of ways to deal with trash, including recycling, composting and building a power-generating incinerator. He said he will support the construction of a west county library.

Mr. Feaga was first elected to the council in 1986 only to be often frozen out by four Democratic colleagues and a Democratic county executive for his first term.

That changed considerably in 1990, when Republican Darrel Drown won the Ellicott City council seat and Mr. Ecker defeated Democrat Elizabeth Bobo to become executive.

Now Mr. Feaga wields considerable influence whenever the council's three Democrats disagree, and has easy access to Mr. Ecker's offices.

"It's been kind of fun serving for the last four years. It's such a difference having Chuck down there," Mr. Feaga told supporters.

Mr. Ecker appointed Mr. Feaga's 1990 campaign manager, Gail Bates, as an assistant to the county executive, so Mr. Feaga chose a new campaign manager, his son-in-law, retired county police officer and Woodbine resident Tom Larimore.

Mr. Larimore said he was not worried about the influx of new residents, whose views about controlling growth sometimes clash with farmers' protection of property rights.

"I'm not concerned about the diverseness of the district," Mr. Larimore said.

"Even though he's a farmer, and farming is diminishing out here, I think he's attentive to their needs," Mr. Larimore said. "They moved out here for the quality of life, which he's helped to create."

He selected his daughter-in-law Trish Holmes as his campaign treasurer.

Mr. Feaga said he believed he needed between $20,000 and $25,000 "to run an efficient campaign," and Ms. Holmes said that the campaign has already raised about $17,000.

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