Ridgely targets growth in run for commission

May 15, 1994|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff Writer

Neil Ridgely announced Friday his candidacy for county commissioner, promising to fight the "good ole boy" network in Carroll County, focus on growth issues and make local government more accessible,

Mr. Ridgely, 44, the county's landscape and forest conservation manager, said the county must manage growth more effectively if it is to retain its rural character.

"Now is the time for us to take the reins of growth policy from the developers and their cronies, and begin to steer it to our advantage for a change," Mr. Ridgely told a group of about 10 supporters in front of his Finksburg home.

He is the sixth person to enter the county commissioner race.

Incumbents Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippy announced their candidacies in November. The other candidates are Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown; Charles Stull, the office manager of the county Department of Parole and Probation; and Richard T. Yates, a retired federal employee.

Julia W. Gouge, the other incumbent, has said she will seek a seat in the House of Delegates from District 5.

In his announcement speech, Mr. Ridgley attacked the current Board of County Commissioners, saying it closed important meetings to the public, catered to developers and neglected environmental concerns.

"I have been a firsthand witness to the business of county government for five years now and have seen how the shadow of secrecy placed over public meetings has excluded the public who support government with their taxes, while developers and their paid lobbyists have been promoted to the role of fourth commissioner," Mr. Ridgely said.

If elected as a commissioner, Mr. Ridgely said he would work to make government meetings more accessible by holding many commissioner meetings in the evenings "to crack the good ole boy system within county government."

"Many two-income families cannot take their rightful place in government participation during daytime work hours," he said.

Mr. Ridgely, a lifelong Republican, said he changed his political party affiliation to Democrat last week because he disagreed with local Republicans' views on environmental issues.

He criticized Republican Commissioner Dell's proposal to extend Interstate 795 through "some of the most sensitive environmental areas in Carroll County."

Throughout his speech, Mr. Ridgely asked, "Is this keeping it country?" referring to Mr. Dell's 1990 campaign slogan.

"I don't believe that [the environment] has been his agenda from what I've witnessed in staff meetings," Mr. Ridgely said of Mr. Dell.

Mr. Ridgely said he supports "good, clean industrial and business growth" in the county, but in order to increase economic development, Carroll's transportation "crisis" has to be addressed.

He said the county should focus on improving Route 140, making better use of access roads and constructing bypasses.

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