During its current term, Carroll County's three-member board of commissioners was preoccupied with the present. The budgetary crunch of the early '90s forced it to squeeze services for a growing county. During the next term, the board must broaden its focus to include the future.
Among the five Democrats competing for three slots on the November ballot, we favor Cornelius Ridgely, Rebecca Orenstein and Elmer Lippy.
Mr. Ridgely stands out as a most attractive choice. Manager of the county's landscape and forest conservation programs, he wants to provide a counterweight to residential developers' disproportionate influence in county government.
Ms. Orenstein, a Westminster councilwoman, solidly grasps the impact of county government on Carroll's municipalities. While sensitive to environmental issues, she understands that Carroll's growth will continue and warrant control.
Elmer Lippy, an incumbent commissioner, has done a credible job of managing with scarce resources. While he equivocated on a number of issues, he generally looked after the public's interest.
Among the other two Democrats, David Grand, a retired government worker, understands a great deal about county government through his work as a volunteer auditor, but his candidacy seems to be a lark. Former sheriff Grover "Sam" Sensabaugh offers an appeal to the nostalgia vote.
Among the Republican hopefuls, we favor W. Benjamin Brown, David Duree and Donald I. Dell.
Westminster Mayor Brown has demonstrated a willingness to attack and solve problems ranging from reducing trash collection costs to managing growth.
Mr. Duree, a small businessman who sits on the county planning commission, has a broad understanding of the need to promote economic development and rein in residential growth.
Mr. Dell is the second incumbent in the race. (The third current commissioner, Julia Gouge, is running for lieutenant governor with William Shepard.) While Mr. Dell's actions in office seemed to contradict his 1990 slogan, "Keep it country," he has shown a keen ability to cope with tight budgets. His fiscal conservatism and distrust of government reflect the county's political ideology.
Among other GOP hopefuls, state parole officer Charles Stull has an intimate knowledge of criminal justice issues but lacks in-depth understanding of other county matters. South Carroll activist Richard Yates has zeroed in on the unhappiness over the county's growth, but many of his proposed solutions aren't feasible.
For Carroll County commissioner, The Sun endorses Democrats Ridgely, Lippy and Orenstein and Republicans Brown, Duree and Dell in the Sept. 13 primary.