Normally a mild-mannered state police lieutenant by day, Democratic sheriff's candidate Ken Tregoning was anything but last night as he vigorously attacked the record of his opponent, Republican incumbent John H. Brown.
But, in keeping with a promise he made early in the campaign, Sheriff Brown barely acknowledged the criticism during a 25-minute exchange of views at a League of Women Voters forum in Westminster.
"I've set clear-cut goals, demanded accountability and I've gotten proven results," the sheriff said after a blistering opening remark by his challenger.
Lieutenant Tregoning, who is the current commander of the Golden Ring state police barracks, said, "Usually, in the quest for office, a candidate tells you what he's going to do. But tonight, I'm going to tell you what I won't do."
He said he won't overspend his budget, he won't institute "astronomical" pay raises for his highest assistants, he won't close the sheriff's department on weekends, he won't show favoritism in the ranks and he "will not rob the taxpayers of unnecessary dollars."
The list of "don'ts" is a direct hit at Sheriff Brown's campaign claims of accountability and fiscal austerity: He claims to have turned more than $600,000 back to the county in 1994 through increased fees, better service of court papers and savings in jail house renovations.
"I'm going to stick to the mandated duties of the sheriff's office," the incumbent said, referring to his contention that his opponent wants to turn the department into a full-time county police force.
"To expand it is wrong. I fought this during the same election. There are the same issues now, only now it is repackaged in a new suit of clothes. They're going to try and slip it in the back door." A full-time county police force would be "ludicrous," the sheriff said, and the citizens would "pay and pay and pay" for such an option.
Lieutenant Tregoning insists he supports the state police resident trooper's program. But, he said, the county should be prepared should the state disband the program. He said he supports allowing sheriff's deputies to augment the state police.
He pointed out that Carroll's state police contingent was down to near 70 this year, 21 fewer than two years ago.