Evans announces run for executive She challenges fellow Republican

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 the incumbent, 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.

The primary election will be in September.

"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 conceded that she has an uphill battle, challenging an incumbent in her own party who has $220,000 in campaign funds compared to her $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 principle 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 officials said they were disturbed by Evans' challenge to a strong GOP executive who has kept taxes low while boosing the local economy.

"I think this campaign will end up showing that John Gary has done a lot 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 Republican state Sen. Robert R. Neall, a Gary supporter and former county executive.

L "The things she is talking about sound trivial," said Neall.

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 sensitive to the needs of 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.

Pub Date: 1/08/98

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