Democrats will expand local panel 12 more members to be elected next fall to central committee

'We have to try harder'

Two men, two women will be chosen from each of five districts

December 28, 1997|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

County Democrats, shut out in all but one Carroll race in 1994, plan to expand membership of the local party central committee to have more muscle at the polls next time around.

They will expand the local Democratic Central Committee to 20 members, which means 12 more Carroll Democrats will be elected to party office in September.

"We're one of the few [Maryland] counties that are No. 2" in voter registration behind the Republicans, said Phillip R. Miller, county Democratic Central Committee chairman. "We have to try harder."

Since 1990, when county Republicans took a 931-person lead in voter registration, Democrats have been trying to regain control. Miller hopes the expansion of the central committee will help achieve that goal.

Central committee members serve as foot soldiers in elections -- staffing the polls and handing out campaign literature. Local committee members also belong to the state party, Miller said, and "have input into state politics."

And if an office held by a Democrat becomes vacant during a term, the committee would appoint someone to fill the slot, he added.

The expansion of the committee "will involve more people," he said, and will provide "both gender balance and geographic balance" to the panel. "Democrats in certain parts of the county feel neglected," he said.

For example, no one from western Carroll County serves on the central committee, Miller said, but under the expansion plan -- which requires the election of two men and two women from each of five districts -- western Carroll "will have equal representation with the rest of the county."

The change, which is to take effect for the September primary, did not come easily. It was not accepted by the local election board until Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. ruled that it was valid.

The election board was concerned that the central committee FTC was creating new election districts. The issue, said election board director Patricia Matsko, was "whether a local party could create election districts."

But Curran ruled that the Democrats "were not changing any district lines established by the Board of Elections," Matsko said.

Miller said the Democrats chose district lines, drawn by a citizens group in 1992, that are likely to be used if voters choose to switch to a charter government and elect council members by district.

By using the 1992 district lines, the central committee did not intend to imply support for the charter proposal, Miller said. "I don't want to give the impression that charter government is a Republican or a Democratic issue," he said.

Pub Date: 12/28/97

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