Baltimore County sheriff holds lead over retired police officer ELECTION 1994

November 09, 1994|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Sun Staff Writer

In the Baltimore County courthouse races, the sheriff had a commanding lead over his challenger, while the incumbent clerk of the Circuit Court and her opponent were separated by only a few hundred votes.

County voters spread their votes fairly evenly among six candidates for three seats on the Orphans' Court judges, but the longtime register of wills and his challenger were just a few hundred votes apart with more than half the votes counted.

Baltimore County State's Attorney Sandra A. O'Connor and judges Lawrence R. Daniels and John O. Hennegan were unopposed.

In the sheriff's race, incumbent Republican Norman M. Pepersack Jr. and Democratic challenger Charles W. "Chuck" Norris Jr. both said they felt optimistic as the polls closed last night.

"The people I was talking to gave me a good reception," the sheriff said after visiting some 25 polling places in several areas, including Essex, Perry Hall, Kingsville and Catonsville.

Mr. Norris said had similar feelings after a tour.

"I traveled around the county today visiting polling places, and I have a real positive feeling from the poll workers," he said.

Since he was elected in 1990, Sheriff Pepersack, 60, has favored a larger role for the office in addition to the regular duties of transporting prisoners, providing courthouse security and serving legal papers. He was with the state police for 23 years.

He said the 56 deputy sheriffs could be a visible deterrent to crime, although they wouldn't be on patrol or be actively seeking out criminals.

Mr. Norris, 48, said the sheriff's office needed to "focus on its primary function, which is service to the courts, and not be reaching out to police-like functions."

Mr. Norris served with the county Police Department for 23 years, retiring as a captain, and now works as chief of security at Eastpoint Mall. He said he could do a better job man aging the office's duties.

For clerk of Circuit Court, Democratic incumbent Suzanne Mensh was challenged by Republican Joyce Grimm, a county employee who assigns trials to judges each morning. Ms. Grimm works in Ms. Mensh's office but is not under the jurisdiction of Ms. Mensh, who is a state official.

Ms. Grimm said she decided to run because of low morale in the clerk's office and complaints about incomplete files.

Ms. Mensh said the problems have been abated with modernization of the filing systems.

"We handle 26,500 cases a year, civil and criminal," said Ms. Mensh, who was an Orphans Court judge for 24 years. She resigned in 1986 before running for her first term as court clerk.

Ms. Mensh also said the assignment clerk's job should be a part of the clerk's office.

Six candidates ran for three seats on the Orphans' Court, which deals with wills and estates and does not require a law degree.

The two incumbents, Republican Sandra L. O'Connell-Hughes and Chief Judge Grace G. Connolly, a Democrat, led the field of six, followed by Republican Victoria C. Chambers.

Close behind Ms. Chambers were Democrat Julie L. Ensor, Republican Edward Fowler and Democrat Catharine A. Davis.

Incumbent Democrat Peter J. Basilone had a slim lead over Republican Patrick L. McDonough for register of wills, the administrator for the Orphans' Court.

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