Evans challenges Gary in Arundel Councilwoman to run for county executive

January 08, 1998|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County Councilwoman Diane R. Evans formally announced her candidacy for county executive last night in a speech that attacked the "arrogance of power" of Executive John G. Gary.

At a gathering of more than 300 supporters at the Columbian Center in Severna Park, the 49-year-old Republican from Arnold promised a government that listens more to average people.

"We need an executive who has an orderly, reflective approach to government, sensitive to the needs of the people, thoughtful as to solutions," said the former County Council chairwoman.

"It's time for a fiscal conservative who is sensitive to critical social needs and the environment," Evans said. "I'm running for county executive to prove a Republican can be all that."

She acknowledged that a race against a better-financed incumbent from the same party will be an uphill battle. With the primary in September, Gary has $220,000 in campaign funds compared with Evans' $15,000. A sitting executive has never been defeated in Anne Arundel County.

"Why have I chosen the most difficult race possible?" Evans asked during her speech. "Sometimes the principal at stake is worth the risk to one's career. I am deeply concerned about the direction our government is taking and I want to change that."

Some Republican Party officials said they were disturbed by Evans' challenge of a strong GOP executive who has succeeded in keeping taxes low while boosting the local economy.

"I think this campaign will end up showing that John Gary has done a lot of very big things for the county very well -- like building the new courthouse and detention center and reforming our pension system," said state Republican Sen. Robert R. Neall, a Gary supporter and former county executive.

"The things she is talking about sound trivial," said Neall. "The things John has done for the county will last for years."

Evans said her most important acts during her seven years on the council have included voting against special taxing districts for developers, encouraging recycling and sponsoring a resolution to preserve scenic and historic roads.

She said Gary displayed "arrogance" in office this fall by granting his top Cabinet officials raises of up to 10 percent when lower-level county employees received much less.

Gary declined to comment on Evans' candidacy. But his supporters strongly disagreed with her characterization of him as arrogant, saying Gary has been very sensitive to the needs of county residents.

"Would she make a good county executive? In my opinion, I would give a resounding no," said Republican County Councilman William Mulford of Annapolis, an ally of Gary's. "She has no administrative or executive experience that would help her succeed in this office."

Pub Date: 1/08/98

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