Barnes close to unseating Hickman PRIMARY ELECTION RESULTS 1994

September 14, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

In what could signal the end of Thomas E. Hickman's 20-year reign as Carroll's top prosecutor, Jerry F. Barnes, his Republican primary challenger and one-time employee, had a nearly 2 percent lead with all of the county's vote tabulated.

With all 41 precincts counted, Mr. Barnes had captured 192 more votes than Mr. Hickman. But with 842 absentee ballots yet to be counted after 5 p.m. today, neither candidate declared victory or acknowledged defeat.

Mr. Barnes, who still considered the race too close to call, said last night that if his lead holds into a victory today, it would mean Carroll voters wanted a change in their top law enforcement official.

"I feel I put forth the best effort that I could," Mr. Barnes said last night. "It's still early, but I know there is a great degree of sentiment for change, and, if these results hold, there will be some change."

While the campaign was a quiet one compared with the mud-slinging affair of four years ago -- when the two squared off in the general election -- Mr. Barnes hit hard at the county's drug task force and the state's attorney's office recent string of appellate court reversals on felony convictions.

Should Mr. Barnes' lead hold, he would face Linda A. Holmes -- JTC who was uncontested in yesterday's Democratic primary.

To be sure, the candidates took subtle hits at each other in newspaper advertisements that ran last week. Mr. Barnes, an assistant state's attorney in Frederick County, said in one ad that he would "guard against criminals going free due to technicalities," an apparent reference to the Court of Special Appeals' decision to overturn the first-degree murder conviction of a Pennsylvania man accused of strangling a woman on a Harney farm in 1991.

The appellate court overturned James Howard VanMetre III's conviction because prosecutors failed to try him within six months of his attorney's entrance into the case.

In another 1990 rematch of sorts, incumbent Republican Clerk of the Circuit Court Larry W. Shipley had captured more than 65 percent of the vote while his primary opponent, Diane E. O'Leary captured about 35 percent, with 21 of 41 precincts tabulated.

The two candidates kept a low political profile. Mr. Shipley, who has held the office since the 1970s, asked Republicans to consider his "experience, dedication and knowledge." Ms. O'Leary lost the race in 1990, when she ran against Mr. Shipley as a Democrat. She was a deputy clerk under Mr. Shipley for many years.

Mr. Shipley, if successful, would face Manchester Mayor Phillip R. Miller ran unopposed in yesterday's Democratic primary.

The clerk of the court oversees the thousands of criminal and civil court cases filed every year. The clerk also maintains the county's marriage, divorce, land and mortgage records.

Mr. Shipley's current deputy, Donald B. Sealing II, was behind in his bid to unseat another long-time incumbent for the Republican nod in the register of wills race. Mr. Sealing, who said he would bring "new blood" to the office, had garnered about 45 percent of the vote, while Reese L. Starner took 55 percent with 21 precincts reporting.

When he announced his candidacy in April, Mr. Sealing said he would modernize the office by introducing computers. Mr. Starner said the voters should return him to the office again because of his experience.

The register of wills -- whose salary is $50,000 -- is responsible for keeping records on estates and is the clerk for the Orphans' Court, where three judges hear probate cases two days a week. The register of wills handles about 450 estates a year in Carroll County.

Mr. Starner, if his lead holds, will face Suzanne W. Albert, who was unopposed in yesterday's Democratic primary. Ms. Albert, who also said she would modernize the office, is a long-time state employee who is a member of the Rape Crisis Intervention service.

In another courthouse race, voters in both parties selected three nominees for Orphans' Court judges. Republicans picked Walter Haines Jr., Albert W. Selby and Dorothy V. Utz, with 21 precincts tabulated, with incumbent Harrison E. Utz trailing in fourth. They will face the unopposed Democrats, John Lockard Barnes, Naomi Benzil and Robert E. Kersey.

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