Sheriff and Courthouse Endorsements

October 12, 1994

Political races in the lower ranks of the legal system in Howard County seldom generate much interest, and this year's are no exception. In the races for sheriff, Clerk of the Court and Register of Wills, few issues have surfaced as critical and the campaigning has been largely uneventful.

Incumbent Sheriff Michael A. Chiuchiolo is the overwhelming favorite to win re-election. A Democrat, Mr. Chiuchiolo took over the sheriff's office four years ago when it was in the midst of an embarrassing scandal. He ousted two deputy sheriffs prone to Nazi mimicry and established an air of professionalism that was sorely needed. But he also went beyond that, introducing management procedures and fiscal accountability that the office lacked. Also, while community relations were strained four years ago, the office is now recognized for its strides in fostering racial, religious and ethnic understanding.

For all those reasons, Mr. Chiuchiolo is our choice for county sheriff. His Republican challenger, Richmond Laney, has served on the Property Tax Assessment Appeal Board, but lacks the law enforcement experience critical for the job.

In the race for court clerk, Democrat Leslie J. Cale has run an energetic campaign against incumbent Republican Margaret D. Rappaport. Ms. Cale has criticized Ms. Rappaport's lack of experience when she took over the clerk's office four years ago. But this tactic does little to accentuate the particulars in Ms. Cale's own background, which include 17 years as a legal secretary and court reporter. The fact is, Ms. Rappaport has run an efficient clerk's office and has updated filing procedures in several areas. Her previous experience as a restaurant manager has served her well in this administrative position, and we recommend her re-election.

The race for Register of Wills is also being waged over the issue of experience. In this case, incumbent Democrat Kay Hartleb is our choice. Her opponent, Republican Catherine Walters, is a former Orphan's Court judge, but she lacks experience in handling probate matters. Despite the generally low profile of the office, it manages nearly 400 wills a year, collecting close to $1 million in inheritance tax annually and resolving estates worth as much as $20 million. Experience cannot be discounted, and Ms. Hartleb has proven hers.

9- Tomorrow: Howard County ballot questions.

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