Community activist to run for County Council in 1998 William Smith announces intention to seek seat on Democratic ticket

November 26, 1997|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

Ellicott City community activist William C. Smith, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for Howard County Council in 1990, has decided to run again in 1998 on a platform dominated by growth issues.

Smith, a 48-year-old computer consultant, hopes to win the seat held by Councilman Darrel E. Drown, a Republican who plans to leave the council when his second term ends next year.

His district, which includes Elkridge and Ellicott City, usually supports conservative candidates, but rapid development has made voters sensitive to the growth battles that Smith has long fought.

"We're sacrificing the things that make Howard County such a desirable place to live," he said. "We're also sacrificing the quality of our schools, the educational system, by overcrowding."

Smith announced his plans last night to the Ellicott City Democratic Club and has no current rival within his party. In his 1990 council race, he lost to a Democratic incumbent, Shane Pendergrass, now a state delegate.

In 1998, Smith's Republican opponent likely would be Chris Merdon, 26, an Ellicott City software developer and former president of the Howard County Republican Club.

Drown has endorsed Merdon, who says he has has knocked on 2,500 doors and raised $7,000 since beginning his campaign in March.

Merdon predicted he and Smith would agree on growth issues. "Growth is going to be the centerpiece of my campaign, too," Merdon said.

Smith has been president of the Bonnie Branch/Ilchester Community Association for 13 years.

He is also one of three plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Howard County Board of Appeals, which approved a road connection that is the key to a 74-home development proposed near Smith's home.

For his council campaign, Smith hopes to raise at least $20,000, but he will shun contributions from developers, as he did in 1990.

The County Council also sits as the Zoning Board, which Smith said could lead to conflicts of interest when developers who have donated campaign money request zoning changes. "I see myself acting as a watchdog," Smith said, "because currently the people don't have an advocate on the County Council."

Pub Date: 11/26/97

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