Brown starts run for House Commissioner will seek seat in 5th District

March 11, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

County Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown announced yesterday that he will run for the House of Delegates this fall.

The 54-year-old Westminster Republican will vie for one of three 5th District seats held by Democrat Ellen Willis Miller and Republicans Joseph M. Getty and Nancy R. Stocksdale.

Manchester Republican W. David Blair, who was Carroll County coordinator for the Dole-Kemp presidential campaign, is also seeking a 5th District seat.

"I am not at a loss for reasons to want to go to Annapolis," Brown said. "I look forward to an issues-oriented campaign and to working with Governor Ellen Sauerbrey to create a better future for the state of Maryland and the citizens of Carroll County."

Sauerbrey was narrowly defeated by Gov. Parris N. Glendening in 1994 and is expected to become her party's standard bearer again this fall.

Brown said his campaign will reflect his commitments to "preserving and promoting agriculture, funding timely school construction, supporting community policies, and making Maryland more competitive in the 21st century marketplace."

Brown's announcement yesterday was not a surprise. It has long been rumored that he would seek the seat held by Willis Miller, the delegation's only Democrat. And he had said Feb. 16 that he planned to explore options that could let him integrate his personal life with a professional career "less time-consuming than the commissioners' job."

After undergoing a quadruple bypass operation in July 1996, bTC Brown said he started re-evaluating the amount of time spent away from his family on nights and weekends in his role as a commissioner. Serving as a delegate would not be as physically taxing as the commissioner's job, he said.

Regardless, his health "is good for a middle-aged, balding man," Brown said with a laugh. "Thanks to modern miracles, my heart has been operated on and my eyes have been fixed," he said. "My heart today is better than when I was elected commissioner. I am tuned up and ready to go."

A seat in the House of Delegates is "a logical step," Brown said, in a political career that began in 1989 when he defeated the incumbent by 12 votes to become mayor of Westminster. Brown was re-elected without opposition in 1993 and made a successful run for County Commissioner in 1994, garnering nearly 23,000 votes.

His goal as a member of the General Assembly would be to work closely with county and municipal officials, Brown said. "My experience in municipal and county government has led me to understand the importance of nurturing that relationship" -- something he says Carroll's current Annapolis delegation has not done.

"They have quite frankly turned a deaf ear" to several county initiatives, Brown said.

Lawmakers refused this year, for example, to introduce legislation that would allow Carroll's Liquor Board to levy larger fines to recoup the cost of hearings, and they denied a request that would have let the county hold a referendum to discover whether voters want to impose a 1 percent tax on property transfers and use the money to preserve farmland.

"I will pursue the issue" of farmland preservation as a delegate in Annapolis, Brown said.

He would also work to get state aid to county schools more quickly, Brown said. "All I want from the state of Maryland is a timely commitment to holding up their share of school construction costs," he said. As a commissioner, Brown complained that the state reneged on its commitment to help fund local schools promptly.

A native of Lakeland, Fla., Brown moved to Maryland in 1965 after having worked for Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign while a student at the University of Tampa.

He earned a degree in social science from Towson State University and went to work for the state as a social worker in Howard County. He met his wife, Margaret, while working at Springfield State Hospital. He established residences for the infirm elderly there from 1981 to 1984, then went into the candy business in Westminster until his election as mayor in 1989.

Pub Date: 3/11/98

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