At the bottom of Howard County's primary election ballot, far from the televised buzz of this year's big-ticket political campaigns, four people are vying Tuesday for jobs that voters often forget.
They are running for office, but they do not want to be lawmakers. They align themselves with a political party, but the jobs they seek are about as partisan as a librarian's.
They are the candidates for clerk of the Circuit Court and register of wills, and even the best-connected politicos barely know who they are.
Said Carole Fisher, chairwoman of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee: "I'd be just as happy if those were appointed positions. Most people don't even know what they do."
The clerk of the Circuit Court is responsible for maintaining records of the court's proceedings -- from criminal trials to deeds and divorces. The clerk oversees about 35 people and is paid $63,500 a year.
Incumbent Margaret D. Rappaport is unchallenged for the Republican nomination, while Democrats Leslie J. Cale and Matthew G. Rybczynski are hoping to face her in November.
Cale, the Democratic nominee in 1994, has worked as a court reporter and had other court-related duties for more than 20 years.
Rybczynski, 27, works for his father's title-search company, operates a video production company and is an occasional actor. His father, Melvin Gary Rybczynski, was jailed and disbarred for making thousands of illegal photocopies at the clerk's office in 1996.
Rybczynski's is the better-financed of the two campaigns, having raised $5,200 by the end of last month. Most of his money came from his father's company and was spent on signs, buttons, T-shirts and balloons.
"I don't want to be a politician, believe me. I don't have the personality for it," said Cale. "But I'm 40 years old, I've done court work my whole life and I really want that job."
The register of wills bears much of the responsibility for tTC probating wills. After someone dies, the register of wills oversees disbursement of the estate and payment of bills and taxes. The annual salary is $61,000.
"People walk in here, they've just experienced a death and they're bewildered by the process. They don't know what to do," said Kay K. Hartleb, a Republican and the incumbent register of wills. "This office doesn't seem very important to people until they need it."
Hartleb, completing her third four-year term, is being challenged in the primary by Larry G. Fales, a risk analyst for the Maryland Housing Fund. His campaign centers on promises to refine the probate process.
Democrat Patricia S. Gordon is unopposed in the primary.
Candidates for sheriff, state's attorney and judge of the Orphans' Court also will be on the ballot Tuesday. None of those races is contested in the primary.
Timothy J. McCrone (D). No opposition.
Marna McLendon (R). Incumbent. No opposition.
Circuit Court clerk
Leslie J. Cale (D).
Matthew G. Rybczynski (D).
Margaret D. Rappaport (R). Incumbent. No opposition.
G. Russell Walters (D). No opposition.
Charles Cave (R). No opposition.
Register of wills
Patricia S. Gordon (D). No opposition.
Larry G. Fales (R).
Kay K. Hartleb (R). Incumbent.
Judge of Orphans' Court
(Vote for three. No Contest.)
Paul L. Bush (D).
John W. Higgins (D).
Sherae M. McNeal (D).
Charles M. Coles Jr. (R). Incumbent.
James Patterson (R).
Joyce Pope (R). Incumbent.
Pub Date: 9/13/98