Courthouse candidates stress efficiency Technology a major focus for candidates in 3 races

August 30, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Improving public service and updating computer-friendly techniques are the common themes among 16 candidates running for clerk of the Circuit Court, Register of Wills and judges of Orphans' Court in the Carroll County primary and general elections.

Joseph Burns Jr. will be trying to unseat five-time incumbent Larry W. Shipley as clerk of the Circuit Court, the overseer of land records, marriage and business licenses, and all criminal, civil and juvenile court records, in the Sept. 15 Republican


L The winner will be unopposed in the Nov. 3 general election.

Three Republicans and a Democrat will try to oust Republican incumbent Nancy L. Airing as Register of Wills. The office records wills, deals with estate issues and gives recommendations on matters before the judges of Orphans' Court.

Challenging Airing in the primary are Republicans Donald B. Sealing, Francis X. Walsh and Ryan M. Warner. Democrat John Lockard Barnes, unopposed in the primary, will oppose the winner in the general election.

Nine candidates are seeking three seats as judges of Orphans' Court, including Republican incumbents Walter T. Haines Jr., Albert W. Selby and Dorothy V. Utz, the chief judge.

Orphans' Court judges render decisions on contested probate matters.

Challengers in the Republican primary are John David Carbaugh, V. David Grayson, James Earl Kraft, Raymond B. Pool and Herbert J. Reisig.

The top three Republican vote-getters will compete in the general election for the three judgeships with Manchester Mayor Elmer C. Lippy, a Democrat who is unopposed in the primary.

Below is more information on the candidates:

Circuit court clerk

Joseph Burns Jr., 39, a Westminster Republican. He is an insurance claims adjuster with past business administrative and managerial experience. While he has not previously run for public office, he has been active in political and civic groups, including the Republican Club of South Carroll.

"It's time for a change," he said, promising to improve customer service and streamline the office operation by bringing in "fresh ideas" to get "cheaper, quicker and more efficient service."

Larry W. Shipley, 53, the incumbent, a Westminster Republican. He began working as a clerk in 1965, became chief deputy in 1975 and was elected clerk in 1978.

"I always stress customer service because everyone in the office is a public servant," he said. In 1991, his office became the first in the state to automate land and case management records. In 1994, his office became the "first and only county" to place land records on optical disks. He wants to adopt a pilot program used in Harford County that would make the recording of deeds a "one-stop" process.

Register of Wills

John Lockard Barnes, 71, a Democrat from Millers. He is retired after 38 years as an investigative accountant for the U.S. Treasury Department. He ran unsuccessfully for judge of Orphans' Court in 1994, garnering more than 11,700 votes. He wants to keep the public better informed on issues and develop estate planning and asset protection for any citizen requesting assistance, he said. "I also want to make the Register of Wills more visible in the community," he said.

Incumbent Nancy L. Airing, 60, a Taneytown Republican. After 17 years as a clerk and chief deputy, she took over the office when Reese Starner, Register of Wills since 1966, died in 1995.

"I helped install computers that brought the office into the 21st century," she said. She plans to keep upgrading the technical operation and to stay informed on probate laws and changes in rules governing wills and estates. Her role, essentially a tax collector for the state comptroller, also involves serving as a clerk for the judges of Orphans' Court.

Donald B. Sealing II, 47, a Sykesville Republican. He serves as chief deputy under Shipley in the circuit court clerk's office. He narrowly lost to Starner in 1994. He wants to provide consistent public service, upgrade technology, implement an Internet Web page for the office, and increase seminar opportunities for employees to enhance service to the public.

Francis X. Walsh, 59, a Westminster Republican. An attorney, he ran for the state Senate in 1994, losing a "horse race by less than 100 votes," he said. His legal experience will help him keep abreast of changes in rules and laws, he said, adding that he can provide the public with "compassion at times of stress and bereavement." If he can gain consensus among the state's 24 Registers of Wills, he would ask the General Assembly to lower inheritance taxes, he said.

Ryan M. Warner, 24, a Manchester Republican. The youngest candidate in the race, Warner said he would seek to eliminate family inheritance taxes, if he can gain a consensus among the county registrars. He would bring managerial experience from a restaurant business and have staff "treat the citizens as customers," he said. "They're really the owners of this business."

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