Sheriff and Courthouse Endorsements

October 12, 1994

Four years ago, Anne Arundel County voters selected Republican Robert G. Pepersack Jr. to replace a sheriff who had nothing to show for 28 years in office but a disorganized mess. It was the right choice then. But Mr. Pepersack would be the wrong choice now.

Give him credit for organizing the sheriff's office. But Mr. Pepersack's fantasy of being a modern-day Matt Dillion has hurt his performance. From day one, he has been unable to comprehend that he's responsible for courthouse security, prisoner transport and service of legal papers -- and nothing else. His antics have been occasionally amusing, but irresponsible. He overspent his budget three out of four years by a total of $284,000. He asked that his $42,000 salary be raised to $63,000. He used county time to send deputies sniffing out dirt on local lawmakers who would have a say about his salary. The list goes on.

We need a responsible sheriff who understands the job. Veteran county police Sgt. George F. Johnson IV fits this bill. He has a law enforcement background including leadership experience. But, unlike the incumbent, he is content with improving the sheriff's office's performance of assigned duties instead of making it a police department.

For Clerk of the Court, we recommend Democrat Janet S. Owens. Republican Robert P. Duckworth, currently chief deputy clerk under outgoing incumbent clerk Mary M. Rose, is a serious candidate. But Mrs. Owens' energy and court and managerial experience -- she was a dedicated Orphan's Court judge and has served as director of the county's Department of Aging and housing authority -- make her the better choice to run day-to-day courthouse operations.

Orphan's Court judges approve all estates and hold hearings on contested wills; the Register of Wills handles administrative matters related to wills, estates and taxes. GOP incumbent Register of Wills George M. Nutwell Jr. is a competent administrator; we endorse him over Candace H. Beckett, who is well-educated but has little experience. For Orphan's Court, our choices are incumbent Democratic judge Judith L. Duckett; Democrat Betsy K. Dawson, an Annapolis attorney; and Republican Elaine M. Furth, deputy to the Register of Wills from 1991 to 1994.

Tomorrow: County Council District 1.

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