Assembly candidates use Sauerbrey's name often in Carroll debate All nine discuss taxes and housing sale fees with Realtor sponsors

August 21, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey was prominently featured last night in a forum for General Assembly candidates sponsored by the Carroll County Association of Realtors -- even though she was not there.

The association wanted to know what the nine candidates would do to lower Maryland's real estate settlement costs, the second-highest in the nation.

The best way to reduce settlement costs, Del. Joseph M. Getty told about 40 people at the Westminster Senior Center, is to "get out the vote for Ellen Sauerbrey."

Getty, a Manchester Republican, is one of five Carroll County incumbents seeking re-election to the House of Delegates this fall.

All except Westminster Republican Nancy R. Stocksdale -- who was attending a convention in Chicago -- said they favor lowering settlement costs.

"Every $1,000 reduction in settlement costs means another 3,000 Marylanders can afford to buy a new home," Getty said.

Three factors add to the high cost of settlement -- transfer taxes, prepayment of property taxes, and various legal and banking fees, he said.

"Ellen Sauerbrey proposes payment of property taxes in arrears" rather than a year in advance, as is now the case, Getty said, "and I agree.

"I don't think we should regulate fees, but I think we can put pressure on banks to lower fees."

Even Democrat George Hayes Littrel Jr. of Frederick, who hopes to wrest a state Senate seat from incumbent Republican Timothy R. Ferguson of Taylorsville, tried to wrap the mantle of Sauerbrey around himself.

During his 12 years in the House of Delegates, he and Sauerbrey worked together to reduce settlement costs, Littrel said. He ran unsuccessfully against Ferguson in 1994.

"If we're going to make headway," he said, "we're going to have to make closing costs more important than [party] labels. This won't be changed by one party or the other."

Ferguson, who is seeking a second term in the Senate, told the largely Republican crowd that "labels do mean something."

During campaigns, politicians often promise voters one thing and do something else, Ferguson said. "The nation has been ripped because we have a man in the White House who can't tell us the truth," he said.

Ferguson, who described himself as "a combatant in the sport of politics," said that if Sauerbrey and other GOP candidates are elected this fall, voters would "get some more fighters" working on their behalf.

"I don't want to lean on labels," said Carmen Amedori of Westminster, who is seeking the GOP nomination for a delegate seat, "but we do have a wide sweep of Republicans that are eager to serve the public" in Annapolis.

Littrel and incumbent Del. Ellen Willis Miller of Westminster were the only Democratic candidates present at last night's forum.

Mount Airy Democrat Ann M. Ballard, who is running unopposed and will likely face incumbent Donald B. Elliott in the general election, was absent because of an illness in her family.

Others taking part in last night's forum were Republican state Sen. Larry E. Haines of Westminster, who is running unopposed in both the primary and general elections; County Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown of Westminster; and W. David Blair of Manchester. Republicans Brown and Blair are seeking nomination for delegate seats.

The association also asked candidates for their views on mass transit and Carroll's resident state trooper program.

Most speakers opposed mass transit outright or said it needed further study. Improvement of Carroll roads was more important, they said.

All praised the resident trooper program, but some felt it was time for the county to explore establishing its own police force.

Pub Date: 8/21/98

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