Executive race tight in Baltimore County

November 09, 1994|By Michael James | Michael James,Sun Staff Writer

Although a tight county executive race was under way in Baltimore County -- where candidates primarily campaigned on their ability to keep the county afloat through lean years -- executive races elsewhere did not appear close, with some decidedly lopsided.

Throughout Maryland, voters were looking homeward to issues beyond party affiliation, choosing instead on the basis of growth, taxes, and financial management.

Anne Arundel candidates John G. Gary and Theodore J. Sophocleus were expected to be locked in a tight race to succeed outgoing executive Robert R. Neall. But Mr. Sophocleus conceded a quick defeat to campaign workers about 9:20 p.m.

In Howard and Harford counties, where the impact of growth was the main issue, early results showed heavily favored incumbents well ahead of the challengers.

Roger B. Hayden, having battled a tough recession throughout his four years as Baltimore County executive, was in a close race with Democratic challenger Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger III, who blamed weak leadership for a series of layoffs and closings throughout the county.

But in Baltimore County, as elsewhere in the state, few races were being decided along party lines.

Outside the polling booth at the Owings Mills Volunteer Fire Station, husband and wife Gene and Helene L. Berger, both registered Democrats, said they had no trouble voting for Mr. Hayden.

"We voted for Hayden because I think Hayden's done a good job," Mr. Berger said. "He has cut the government as he promised he would. He cut expenses."

In Howard County, incumbent Republican Charles I. Ecker held an early lead over Democratic challenger Susan B. Gray, who argued the county had grown enough in recent years and should rescind plans for further expansion.

Mr. Ecker would be only the second executive in Howard County history to win a second term.

Ms. Gray was largely unknown to voters until she entered the race minutes before the filing deadline July 5. She told voters that slowing the county's growth was the major issue in the campaign and that she planned to fire the county Director of Public Works, the county director of Planning and Zoning, and the County Solicitor upon election.

In Harford County, incumbent Democrat Eileen M. Rehrmann appeared to be easily winning re-election last night.

Mrs. Rehrmann was claiming victory slightly after 9 p.m. at her Bel Air campaign headquarters as her supporters played the song, "Taking Care of Business."

"They want me to take care of business tonight," Mrs. Rehrmann said, "but I think we are going to celebrate tonight."

Mrs. Rehrmann was challenged by Republican Ronald M. Szczybor, a businessman and former stockbroker whose vitriolic campaign rhetoric seemed to alienate many voters. He had attacked Mrs. Rehrmann by saying she was beholden to developers.

In Carroll County, where three seats for County Commissioner were up for grabs, the three Republicans -- Donald I. Dell, Richard T. Yates, and W. Benjamin Brown -- were leading the way.

Three Democrats were also vying for the seats.

The race for executive in Prince George's County, gubernatorial candidate Parris Glendening's choice for his successor -- Wayne Curry -- had a big lead in the early polls over Republican candidate Robert B. Ostrom.

In Montgomery County, where sparks flew during a bitter campaign between the candidates, Douglas M. Duncan had an early commanding lead over GOP challenger Stephen N. Abrams.

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