Candidates hear property owners Forum draws voters interested in race for commissioner seats VTC

September 02, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Carroll County's crowded field of county commissioner candidates shared a brief rush of adrenalin this week when they addressed a roomful of residents likely to vote in the Sept. 15 primary.

In past forums, the audience was made up almost entirely of the political entourages of the candidates.

This week was different.

At least half of the crowd of 80 people attending a Monday night forum sponsored by the Carroll County Landowners Association -- a South Carroll property rights lobby -- were voters genuinely curious about the 19 candidates running for County Commissioner.

Members of Taneytown Republican Club, who met informally with the GOP commissioner candidates last night, could prove helpful on Election Day, working the polls and distributing literature for their favorite candidates.

Residents can get another look at the candidates at 7 p.m. tomorrow at a West Middle School forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

Monday night's forum belonged to disgruntled property owners.

Government has interferred too often in the past, they said, especially when roads are planned for an area but are years from construction. Once roads are projected, property owners can be prevented from developing their land for years, even though the roads might never be built, they told the candidates.

"If the county doesn't have the money to build the roads, don't put them on the map," said Republican candidate James E. Harris Sr. of Westminster.

Incumbents Donald I. Dell of Westminster and Richard T. Yates of Sykesville said aggrieved residents should contact them personally if they think they have been wronged.

"Anything on your land that is taken, you should be compensated for," Yates said.

It was a sentiment shared by every candidate.

"Either [government] pays you for your property or it lets you develop," said Democrat Perry L. Jones Jr., mayor of New Windsor.

If construction has not begun within 30 months after a road has been put on a map, it should be taken off the map or the owner should be paid for it, said Republican Michael R. Baker of Westminster.

No matter the problem, property owners should involve their elected officials whenever they have a problem with local government, said Hampstead Republican Julia Walsh Gouge. "They will help you," the former two-term County Commissioner said.

Several candidates sympathized with residents who complained that Carroll is anti-business.

"It's abominable what happens in government," said Carolyn Fairbank, an Eldersburg resident running as an independent. "This county is running out small businesses" by rezoning industrial land for large-scale commercial retailers, she said.

Finksburg Republican Steven M. Nevin said Carroll needs to spend as much energy nurturing existing businesses as it does wooing new ones. It didn't make sense for the county to tell a local computer company to take down a sign advertising its move to a new location or pay a $100 fine, he said.

Association president Edward Primoff, who was wearing a red, white and blue tie for the event, said that when he founded the group two years ago, "People worried that there would not be enough good candidates for County Commissioner. Now, we've got too many good candidates" -- four Democrats, 14 Republicans, and one independent, he said.

Republican Robin Bartlett Frazier of Manchester held a news conference in Westminster early Friday evening at which Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett and state Sen. Larry E. Haines were present to endorse her.

Westminster Republican M. Patricia Holbert has gone to places such as the County Detention Center and taken ride-alongs with the state police and fire companies, but has received no publicity as a result, she said.

Republican George William Murphy III has been advertising his candidacy on the Internet and has doubled the size of his home page on the World Wide Web, which he said was already "four times larger than [that of] any other candidate."

Also in the race are Democrats Robert Larry Mann of Westminster, Randy M. Reese of Hampstead, and Maxine Carole Wooleyhand of Sykesville. The other Republicans competing are Westminster residents Edward S. Calwell Sr., John F. Curran Jr., M. Patricia Holbert, Betty L. Smith, and Harvey L. Tegeler Jr.; Robin Bartlett Frazier of Manchester; George William Murphy III of Sykesville; and Finksburg resident Melvin Mills.

Pub Date: 9/02/98

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