Guzzone wants seat on council Sierra Club director is hoping to regain Democratic majority

Schrader to give up seat

Newcomer will face Columbia Council member Wanda Hurt

October 27, 1997|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

Sierra Club of Maryland Executive Director Guy Guzzone yesterday entered the race for the Howard County Council seat that includes North Laurel and the southern edge of Columbia -- the "swing vote" in the battle for control of the council.

Guzzone, a 33-year-old Democrat, represents his party's best chance to regain a council majority, which it lost for the first time in Howard history when Republican Councilman Dennis R. Schrader won the seat in 1994.

Schrader, now council chairman, plans to give up his seat to run for county executive, opening the door to a race between Guzzone and PTA activist Wanda Hurt, a Republican who represents the Village of Owen Brown on the Columbia Council.

"Today, I'd like to announce my candidacy for the Howard County Council," Guzzone said to applause from the 50 supporters gathered for a fund-raiser at Amherst House in Kings Contrivance Village Center. He is chairman of that village's board.

In a short speech, Guzzone said he would focus his campaign on education, public safety, environmental issues and the economy. He said county police are having trouble retaining officers and suggested that residential communities are growing too fast.

"What we really need to start focusing on is not residential development but commercial," Guzzone said.

His job at the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club may bring Guzzone credibility on the sensitive issue of growth in North Laurel, where many residents are fighting a proposal by the Rouse Co. to build a 522-acre development on Johns Hopkins Road.

Other than their aversion to growth, voters in the council district are the most politically unpredictable in the county.

Columbia's two County Council districts are Democratic bastions. Republicans control the districts based in Ellicott City and western Howard.

But the North Laurel district has a mix of new and longtime residents, blue-collar and white-collar, and even Columbia and non-Columbia because the southern zones of the planned city reach into the district.

"It's no secret that it's the swing vote on the council," said Dale Chase. He is president of Local 3085 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents Howard's blue-collar government workers, and head of the Coalition of Public Employees, an umbrella group that hopes to be a major factor in the elections next year.

Chase attended yesterday's announcement, as did Karen B. Dunlop, president of the Howard County Education Association, though the unions they represent have not made endorsements.

"He's everything you'd want in a candidate," Dunlop said of Guzzone. "He's knowledgeable. He's smart. He's personable, philosophically in the right place. In short, he's a winner."

Several prominent Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, Howard County Councilman C. Vernon Gray and state Dels. Frank S. Turner, Elizabeth Bobo and Shane Pendergrass attended Guzzone's announcement.

Pendergrass, a former county councilwoman, employed Guzzone as her assistant for several years and introduced him yesterday.

"He can win this seat," said Pendergrass, who won it in 1986 and 1990. "Guy is a guy who is a can-do person and a will-do person."

Guzzone said he raised more than $6,400 at the event, which had a minimum donation of $25. He hopes to raise $30,000 -- a typical amount for a council race -- by the November 1998 general election.

"I've never put a bumper sticker on my car that's ever lost," said Turner, the east Columbia delegate. "I've put Guy Guzzone's on my car."

Pub Date: 10/27/97

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