Anne Arundel courthouse Sun endorsements: Schaffer, Furth, Tibbetts for Orphans' Court

Johnson, M. Gillen for sheriff.

September 09, 1998

ALTHOUGH FEW voters understand the duties of the clerk of the Circuit Court or Orphans' Court judge, they must chose the people to fill these positions. They are not highly visible policy-making jobs; as a result, the public doesn't pay much heed to the candidates who have filed for them. However, when residents find themselves at the courthouse having to deal with questions about estates, wills, trusts, lawsuits or other legal records, they become keenly interested in these people elected to serve them.

State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, a Democrat, has no opponent in the Sept. 15 primary. On Nov. 3, he will face Richard R. Trunnell, who is unopposed for the Republican nomination.

Long-time Register of Wills George M. Nutwell Jr. will almost certainly occupy that position for another four years. He has no opposition in the Republican primary, and the Democrats haven't fielded a candidate.

Republican Clerk of the Court Robert Duckworth is also unopposed in the primary.

Democratic candidates for that job are Karl H. Gordon, a lawyer, and James F. Salmon, an office automation consultant. We endorse Mr. Salmon, who for six years supervised training programs for the Administrative Office of the Court, which oversees clerks' offices throughout Maryland. He wants to upgrade technology at the courthouse and possesses an insider's understanding of the job.

For Orphans' Court judge, each party nominates three candidates. In existence since 1777, this court settles family disputes over assets of the deceased, orders liquidation of estates and judges the authenticity of wills. Two years ago, the Commission on the Future of Maryland Courts recommended its elimination. The Democrats have an uncontested primary. Of six Republicans vying for the three positions, we endorse incumbent Judges Elaine M. Furth and Gail J. Schaffer, and David A. Tibbetts, an Odenton lawyer.

For sheriff, Thomas Gillen, a retired railroad police officer, is challenging incumbent Sheriff George F. Johnson IV for the Democratic nomination. Mr. Johnson, elected in 1994, has restored order and predictability to the office and merits another chance for election.

For the Republicans, Mark T. Gillen, Thomas Gillen's son, is opposing former Undersheriff J. Patrick Ogle. Although young and preoccupied with cost-cutting, Mark Gillen is preferable to Mr. Ogle. Mr. Ogle was found liable in a federal gender discrimination suit and was part of the mismanagement that characterized the county sheriff's office in the early 1990s.

Anne Arundel County courthouse races

State's Attorney: Democrat Frank R. Weathersbee and Republican Richard R. Trunnell are unopposed. Salary: $89,000. Term: four years.

Clerk of Circuit Court: Democrats Karl H. Gordon and James F. Salmon. Republican Robert P. Duckworth is unopposed. Salary: $64,000. Term: four years.

Register of Wills: Republican George M. Nutwell Jr. is running unopposed. Salary: $64,000. Term: four years.

Orphans' Court: Democrats Jayne Asher Astle, Judith L. Duckett and Callie Matthews. Republicans Elaine Furth, Faith M. Loudon, Nancy Phelps, James J. Riley, Gail J. Schaffer and David A. Tibbetts. Salary: $15,000. Term: four years.

Sheriff: Democrats Thomas Gillen and George F. Johnson IV. Republicans Mark T. Gillen and J. Patrick Ogle. Salary: $52,550. Term: four years.

Data: 1994 primary turnout: 42% of Democrats, 38% of Republicans.

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