Forum shows similar views 16 candidates for commissioner state positions

August 18, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF


A remark by County Commissioner candidate George William Murphy III, a Sykesville Republican, was inadvertently left out of an article in the Carroll County edition of The Sun yesterday. At a political forum sponsored by the Carroll Chamber of Commerce, Murphy said, "The hidden cost in the [county] property tax is that it is paid by the working poor living in apartments and by senior citizens on fixed incomes."

The Sun regrets the omission.

The surprising thing about last night's political forum in Westminster was the similarity of views among the candidates for County Commissioner.

The three Democrats and 13 Republicans on the dais differed only in degree on the four issues posed by the Carroll Chamber of Commerce -- increased taxes, the size and cost of local government, economic development and farmland preservation.

None want to increase taxes, but none pledged to reduce them, either.

All want to eliminate waste and inefficiency in government, all say the county needs to grow its commercial and industrial tax base -- lowest in the region -- and all said the county's goal of preserving 100,000 acres of farmland is a worthy one.

The crowd of about 75 people -- many of them supporters of individual candidates -- could get no more than a sampling of each candidate's views.

There are so many candidates for the three County Commissioner seats that the candidates had to be seated on two tiers, with eight on each level.

It was difficult to see the names of those in the second tier or their faces, depending on the vantage point in the audience.

The candidates were given one minute each to woo voters and allowed the same amount of time to answer each question.

Betty L. Smith, a Westminster Republican, said the county needs to restructure its tax base because she thinks residents receive too little in services for what they pay in taxes.

Republican Julia Walsh Gouge of Hampstead, a former County Commissioner, wants the county to require performance audits on every employee, including those in the school system.

Steven Matthew Nevin, a Finksburg Republican, wants the county to look at the possibility of paying bonuses to department heads who underspend their budgets.

Democrat Roger Larry Mann of Westminster wants the county to involve more people in the budget process under a plan he calls citizen-based budgeting.

Harvey I. Tegeler Jr., Westminster Republican, believes the county "can do better with less" employees and revenue and wants to review every department, including the Board of Education, "in an effort to downsize."

Democrat Randy M. Reese of Hampstead said the key to Carroll's economic development is infrastructure. He proposes that the county concentrate all of its industry in two large areas and provide infrastructure there.

Republican Robin Bartlett Frazier of Manchester said Carroll should become more "business friendly" and serve the people already here.

Westminster Republican Edward S. Calwell Sr. believes in courting high-tech industry. "If we get some high-tech industries, others will follow," he said.

New Windsor Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr., a Democrat, said that the key to economic development is advertising the county's work force, "the best in the state," he said.

Republican James E. Harris Sr. of Westminster said the county needs "a road system that will allow the county to function."

Michael R. Baker, a Westminster Republican, said one of the best ways to improve government would be to listen more closely to employees. Republican Patricia Holbert, also of Westminster, thinks the county would be well served with a whistle-blower program.

Incumbent Republican Donald I. Dell, seeking a third term on the Board of Commissioners, wants to reduce the size of government through privatization of services, and would cut costs by having stricter purchasing and bidding requirements.

Republican Michael Baker of Westminster, said, "If you don't have income, you must reduce expenses."

Incumbent Republican Richard T. Yates, seeking a second term, favors a one-percent tax on real estate transfers to preserve farmland, but wants voters to decide that issue in a referendum.

Republican challenger Melvin Mills of Finksburg said he doesn't believe in "raising taxes because of government waste."

Pub Date: 8/18/98

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