Democrat vows intensified bid for council Layman seeks more cash from builders and others in his second candidacy

June 04, 1998|By Gady A. Epstein | Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF

When Ellicott City Democrat George L. Layman ran for County Council in northeastern Howard in 1994, his campaign was, fellow Democrats say, low on energy.

It also ended up low on dollars and very low on votes (he got fewer than 5,000 of each). Layman was trounced by incumbent Republican Councilman Darrel E. Drown, who garnered two-thirds of the vote.

This time, as Layman prepares another bid for the District 1 seat, he knows he needs to do more to win.

"I didn't go after developers' money," said Layman, who, like nearly every other candidate for local office this year, says he favors carefully planned growth. "I need to go after those people. I need to go after everybody. This year, I'm not going to limit my campaign."

Because Drown is not running for re-election, Layman would seem to have a better chance to win this year.

Layman, 55, a former optician-turned-limousine driver and member of the county Board of Appeals, formally launches his bid for the council Sunday afternoon at a restaurant in Elkridge. He might have no primary opposition.

Previously announced Democratic candidate William C. Smith is said by other Democrats to be reconsidering whether to run. He has not returned phone calls seeking comment.

Like other county Democratic candidates, Layman is running in part against this year's cut in the piggyback income tax and for spending more on education. But he also is running against what calls a "mean-spirited" Republican council majority that he feels has put partisanship above policy.

Layman criticized Drown for voting for an increase in the education budget this year in part to keep the Republican majority on the council unified -- instead of voting for whatever amount of money he felt the schools needed. Drown has said he searched for a compromise among Republican council members avoid splintering the party.

"I don't think the school board budget is a partisan issue," Layman said.

In the general election, Layman probably would face Chris Merdon, a 27-year-old Republican software developer who has been knocking on doors in Ellicott City and Elkridge for a year.

"That's what I understand, 6,000 doors," Layman said recently of Merdon's active campaigning. "But I don't know anyone who knows him."

Layman said he doesn't have the time to campaign day and night, especially now that he is buying the limousine service that employs him.

"They [Democrats] say I did not work as hard as I should have last time," Layman said. "I work for a living. You're running for a part-time position, but you're expected to run a full-time campaign."

Pub Date: 6/04/98

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