Rappaport seeks 2nd term as Circuit Court clerk

June 30, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

Appearing before nearly 200 supporters last night, Republican Margaret Duly Rappaport announced her bid for another four-year term as the clerk of the Howard County Circuit Court.

The Ellicott City resident said she hopes to continue streamlining the operations of an office that manages thousands of criminal cases, civil filings and land records.

Surrounded by her family, employees and candidates for other offices, Mrs. Rappaport, 59, announced her candidacy at a fund-raiser at the Hilton Inn in Columbia. Supporters paid $22 per ticket to attend.

Mrs. Rappaport is married to defense lawyer Paul Rappaport, a former county police chief. They have three children.

Mr. Rappaport is seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor on a ticket with House of Delegates Minority Leader Ellen R. Sauerbrey, a contender for the gubernatorial nomination.

Ms. Sauerbrey attended last night's fund-raiser and gave Mrs. Rappaport a hug after the incumbent announced her candidacy.

Thus far, Mrs. Rappaport is unopposed in the Sept. 13 Republican primary, as is Leslie Jean Cale of Ellicott City in the Democratic primary.

July 5 is the last day for candidates to file election papers.

The clerk oversees about 30 employees in an office that processes civil filings and criminal cases, issues a variety of permits and licenses, manages deeds and land records, and conducts courthouse weddings.

Mrs. Rappaport, a former county Orphans' Court judge, was elected clerk in 1990, upsetting 22-year incumbent C. Merritt Pumphrey, a Democrat once regarded as nearly unbeatable. Mrs. Rappaport shakes off the notion that the description now applies to her.

"No one is unbeatable," she said. "I'm working as hard this time as I did last time, maybe a little harder."

As in 1990, Mrs. Rappaport said, she plans to attend community meetings, go door to door to meet voters, and wave campaign signs along busy highways with County Executive Charles I. Ecker, who also is seeking a second four-year term.

Mrs. Rappaport also plans to rely on her track record of managing one of the busiest government offices in the county.

She notes that she has returned more than $300,000 to Maryland's General Fund in the past two years. The state funds the office's $1.1 million budget.

Mrs. Rappaport said she trimmed expenditures by pursuing $50,000 in delinquent photocopying bills, cutting postage expenses and replacing high-paid employees who retired with new workers at lower salaries.

If elected to another term, she said, she wants to establish a program to determine how the office will address the rapid growth in the number of legal documents filed over the past few years.

Mrs. Rappaport said the office is quickly running out of storage space for documents. The number of land records, for example, increased from 143 filings in 1991 to 374 in 1993.

She also wants to implement a program to reduce the time that residents must serve for jury duty. The program, approved by the Maryland General Assembly in the spring, will allow jurors to serve for one day or one trial. Now, a juror must be available over a four-week period.

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