Many Carroll County voters have said they want commissioners who will control growth and keep the crime rate low. Last night, the six candidates explained how they would work toward those goals.
"Your No. 1 issue is uncontrolled growth," Republican Richard T. Yates of Eldersburg said. "You moved here to get away from the big-city atmosphere."
Democrat Rebecca A. Orenstein of Westminster said, "It's not the growing, it's the discipline, care and management" that are crucial.
Republican W. Benjamin Brown said, "Controlling growth is a matter of will. Will we or won't we?"
The candidates spoke at a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Carroll County at West Middle School in Westminster last night. About 75 people attended.
Three Democrats and three Republicans are in the race. The top three vote-getters will be elected Nov. 8.
The two incumbents in the race stressed their accomplishments and experience. Both are seeking second terms.
Democrat Elmer C. Lippy of Manchester and Republican Donald I. Dell of Westminster said they ran the county efficiently during the recent recession.
Mr. Lippy said he brought his "unadorned honesty" and "personal habits of austerity" to office.
He noted that records show he has spent more days on the job in the past four years than the other two commissioners have.
"I was in my office. I stand on my record," he said.
Mr. Dell said he worked to raise the level of trust between the commissioners and the Board of Education, which often had clashed in the past.
He said he expects his "Vision for the Future" project to generate ideas for how to pay for county services.
He asked for input this year from a variety of citizens, businesses and
civic groups on what the county's priorities should be. A report is expected this year.
Former Carroll County Sheriff Grover N. "Sam" Sensabaugh of RTC Westminster said the commissioners have been dragging their feet on many issues, although he did not specify them.
"The commissioners are elected to make decisions. Most of the decisions seem to be made by various committees. We're studying everything, but nothing is being decided," the candidate said.
He said he would make decisions based on what residents wanted.
Ms. Orenstein, a Westminster city councilwoman, said the government needs a clear vision of what residents want the county to be like.
The county master plan, which dictates zoning, needs to be reviewed, she said. South Carroll is suffering the effects of poorly managed growth, she said.
"It's a question of leadership. I will take a proactive approach," Ms. Orenstein said.
Mr. Brown, who is mayor of Westminster, said he would restrict the number of building permits issued in the county to curtail residential growth. He also said he would borrow more money to build schools and a jail.
Mr. Yates said he advocates reducing regulations on businesses as a way of attracting more jobs to the county.
"Less government is the best government," he said.