Dell: Everyone's Favorite Target

September 06, 1994

In the race for Carroll County commissioner, incumbent Republican Donald I. Dell has emerged as the most sought after debating opponent. Even though the primary is a week away, at least two Democrats -- Cornelius Ridgely and David Grand -- have challenged the first-termer to debate.

Why is Mr. Dell being singled out? Democrat Elmer C. Lippy, the other incumbent up for re-election, has yet to be served with a similar demand. One reason may be that Mr. Dell has emerged as the dominant member of the three-person board of commissioners. He often sets the agenda and wields considerable influence over the decision-making process.

It was Mr. Dell who proposed building a waste-to-energy plant in Carroll. When a panel studying the proposition concluded that the county could not support such a plant, Mr. Dell pushed for further study.

Mr. Dell's unflagging advocacy of extending Interstate 795 from Baltimore County into Carroll is another example of his power to set policy. Even though Mr. Lippy and Julia W. Gouge, the third commissioner now running for lieutenant governor, are no longer actively supporting the extension, Mr. Dell has kept this proposal alive. Last month, Mr. Dell ordered the county planning commission to study the extension of I-795 and possibly include it as part of the county's master plan.

In the selection of a new economic development director, Mr. Dell has forced the other two commissioners to consider a candidate who did not pass the initial screening process. Even though Mrs. Gouge and Mr. Lippy had approved the selection of a new director and were prepared to offer the person the job, Mr. Dell refused to sign off. Instead, he wanted the person's credentials reviewed again.

Mr. Dell is also known in the county office building for immersing himself in day-to-day decisions. He has been known to drop into county offices and personally shepherd building permits through the approval process.

Mr. Dell, one of five Republicans running for three spots on the general election ballot, is still mulling over whether to accept these challenges to debate. But there is no debate that he has emerged as the preeminent member of the board. By default, he also has assumed the role of defending its actions of the past four years.

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