Council plans to endorse Gray for post

April 08, 1997|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Council plans to formally endorse Councilman C. Vernon Gray in his second bid for vice president of the National Association of Counties -- giving Gray support he never had when he lost a tight election for the same job last year.

County Council Chairman Dennis R. Schrader and County Executive Charles I. Ecker, both Republicans, last night proposed a resolution endorsing Gray, a Democrat, for the job with the National Association of Counties (NACo), a lobbying group.

"I think it could benefit the county if Vernon were elected," Schrader said. "He's worked hard to be involved in the organization. [Supporting him] is the right thing to do."

Schrader also plans to write to the leaders of every other Maryland county and Baltimore seeking endorsements for Gray.

NACo, representing the nation's 3,100 counties, will elect officers at its annual convention in Baltimore this July. Gray will compete against Gerry Hyland of Fairfax County, Va., and Timothy Lowenstein of Buffalo County, Neb.

Last year, Gray feuded with the Republican majority of the County Council -- particularly then-Chairman Darrel E. Drown -- over Gray's use of hundreds of dollars of county supplies, postage and staff time for his NACo campaign.

Gray also drew scrutiny from the county's Ethics Commission by seeking $1,000 donations from companies, including some that are regulated by the county, to fund his NACo campaign. He eventually raised $14,300.

The Ethics Commission decided that the fund-raising effort was proper, but urged Gray to publicly release information about the donations -- which he has done and promised to do again.

Gray eventually lost the election for the NACo office by 50 votes of more than 4,000. Before and after, Gray complained bitterly about the lack of support among his council colleagues.

But yesterday he said, "I think that they have come to understand the value of NACo the value of having me in that position.

The council will not vote on the resolution until next month, but every council member except Gray has co-sponsored it. Ecker, who supported Gray last year, also is a supporter of the resolution.

Pub Date: 4/08/97

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