Challenger defeats Brown in GOP primary Tregoning will face Spiwak in Nov.

Carroll County sheriff

Primary 1998

September 16, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Challenger Kenneth L. Tregoning, a state police lieutenant, overwhelmingly defeated two-term incumbent John H. Brown for the Republican nomination for Carroll County sheriff. Tregoning, who commands the Frederick barracks, won 65 percent of the vote, while Brown, who sought a third term with a "tough on criminals" campaign, garnered 35 percent yesterday.

"The 2-to-1 margin shows voters expressed confidence in my ability to do the job," Tregoning said last night. "Some of the sheriff's decisions may have been a bit controversial and perhaps didn't enhance his chances."

The sheriff's race was largely a replay of personalities and issues from 1994, but this year the outcome was entirely different.

Four years ago, Brown and Tregoning, then a Democratic newcomer to politics, squared off in the general election. Tregoning, who lost by about 2,300 votes, has since switched parties.

The GOP primary winner will face Democrat Mervin L. Spiwak of Westminster, who is running unopposed in his party's primary, in the November election.

Tregoning, 54, became a Republican about two years ago, saying he found that party's ideology closer to his own.

Among the more than 75,000 registered county voters, Republicans outnumber Democrats by nearly 8,600.

Brown, a flamboyant and outspoken former Baltimore police officer, has spent nearly twice as much on the campaign as Tregoning has. The sheriff had raised $35,582 through the end of last month. Tregoning reported raising $18,570, including a $2,000 loan he made to his campaign.

Most of the candidates' money went to advertising. Local newspapers became the battleground between the two men, each of whom have claimed the support of major county Republicans.

Brown paid for several glitzy billboards along the county's major routes. The signs stressed his tough-on-criminals stance and depicted a deputy escorting a prisoner dressed in bold black and white striped jail clothing with an orange 'P' printed on the back. Tregoning had one billboard at a Westminster crossroad.

Both candidates said they had the support of local party leaders. Brown added endorsements from state Republicans and 6th District Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett.

Brown, 69, ran on his record. Tregoning attacked Brown's tenure as one marked by dissension with the Carroll County state's attorney, the state police and other law enforcement officials.

What Brown called his successes, Tregoning dubbed a style of management that "centers on flamboyance, gimmickry, stunts and the bizarre."

"The sheriff has lost a lot of credibility and public confidence in his ability to manage his office with professionalism and integrity," said Tregoning.

Brown raised the hackles of the state police when he said: "I handled major crimes. My opponent handed out speeding tickets."

That prompted the president of Maryland Troopers Association Lodge 20, Carroll County, to call the sheriff unprofessional and clueless in a letter to The Sun.

"At a time when it is critical for all law enforcement agencies to work in unison, the actions and comments of Sheriff Brown have impeded efforts to maximize cohesiveness," wrote Earl B. Bredenburg Jr. "Maryland Troopers Association Lodge 20 takes issue with Sheriff Brown's unprofessional conduct.

"Enough is enough. It is time for a change at the top in the Sheriff's Department. Our current sheriff continues to be an embarrassment to law enforcement. It is time to replace him with someone who possesses the ability, integrity and moral fiber to use the resources of that office in an efficient, professional manner."

Brown, who has 25 years of law enforcement experience in Baltimore, had said he was running for a third term on his record. He considers himself a workaholic in good shape, with no desire to retire. He prefers his office to his home in Uniontown.

The Sheriff's Department has vastly improved, Brown said.

Pub Date: 9/16/98

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