For the past four years, the Board of Commissioners in Carroll County has been preoccupied with stanching the county's fiscal hemorrhaging and has postponed making hard decisions on solid waste disposal, school construction and managing residential growth. Another four years of indecision would be disastrous. This idyllic rural county, the metro area's bridge to Western Maryland, is quickly becoming an unplanned suburban nightmare with crowded schools and roads, inadequate police protection and a blighted landscape.
In order to deal with these problems, the county will need leaders capable of making tough, and at times unpopular, political decisions. We recommend voters choose Republicans W. Benjamin Brown and incumbent Donald I. Dell and Democrat Grover N. Sensabaugh.
During his tenure as mayor of Carroll's largest municipality, Mr. Brown has demonstrated a willingness to tackle tough issues. To control Westminster's growth, he capped the number of building permits and prohibited high-density development. He also helped organize six of the county's eight municipalities to obtain a unified bid to drive down the price of garbage collection. He has been the lone candidate to articulate the need to take such actions at the countywide level. While his manner is occasionally overbearing, his kind of determination is needed to tackle Carroll's perplexing problems.
Mr. Sensabaugh has a long history of public service. A former Maryland state trooper, he served as Carroll's sheriff for two terms before losing his bid for a third term in 1990. He believes that growth should be slowed until the appropriate infrastructure is in place. He also favors exploring the creation of a police force for the county, which is now patrolled by state troopers, and making private trash collection more economical.
As for our third endorsee, Mr. Dell, while we've disagreed with some of his actions as commissioner, his re-election would provide the continuity needed to keep the budget under control. He also represents the county's vital farming interests. We dislike his open hostility toward environmental protection and to county employees. But, like Ben Brown, he's got strong ideas at a time when the county needs them.
As for the other candidates, Democrat Rebecca Orenstein, a Westminster councilwoman, is an enthusiastic campaigner, but doesn't seem to possess the political muscle to stand up to special interests. Fellow Democrat and incumbent Elmer Lippy has lost his ability to say "no." As for the top vote-getter in last month's primary, Republican Richard Yates, he might well express voter outrage at what's happening to the county, but he is ill-equipped to analyze and fix Carroll's growing pains. For Carroll County commissioner, we endorse candidates Brown, Dell and Sensabaugh.