Sheriff's nominee unsure of plans Spiwak not certain whether he'll remain for rest of campaign

September 17, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Kenneth L. Tregoning, who won the Republican nomination for sheriff Tuesday by nearly a 2-1 margin, might have no opposition in the general election. The Democratic nominee said yesterday he is unsure he will stay in the race.

Mervin L. Spiwak, unopposed in the Democratic primary, received 5,239 votes. Spiwak plans to study the election results and compare his numbers with those of Ellen Willis Miller, the only Democratic incumbent in the primary. She is seeking a second term in the House of Delegates.

"I don't know what I am going to do or whether I will stay in the race," said Spiwak at his Westminster home yesterday. "I am really surprised I got so many votes."

Spiwak's name will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot unless he declines the nomination by Sept. 25.

Tregoning, who garnered 65 percent of the vote, compared with incumbent John H. Brown's 35 percent, said he will continue to campaign. Brown said yesterday he will support Tregoning's candidacy.

"I enjoyed my victory for 20 seconds and then moved on," said Tregoning, 54, a state police lieutenant who commands the Frederick barracks. "You have to keep up the momentum."

The Republican candidates waged a vigorous campaign, reminiscent of the 1994 contest that Brown won by about 2,600 votes. Tregoning's switch to the Republican Party put the battle in the primary this year.

"I hope Bill Clinton doesn't move to Carroll in two years and change parties," said Brown. "But, then, everyone would know Clinton would still be a Democrat."

Brown ran on his record: eight years of a "tough on criminals" stance. Tregoning attacked that record, which he said was marked by dissension with other law enforcement agencies and centered "on flamboyance, gimmickry, stunts and the bizarre."

Both expected the results to be close. Brown, who was seeking a third term, was surprised at what he called a blowout. He raised about $35,000, twice the amount Tregoning reported, and used much of it to advertise his accomplishments.

"I didn't have the resources, but I did have ads that were informal and to the point," Tregoning said. "The public paid attention and gave me a vote of confidence."

Brown said, "I have no idea what changed people's minds, but this is politics. You can never figure politics until the last votes are counted."

While the outcome of several races could hinge on the 532 absentee Republican ballots, which will be counted today, Tregoning's victory by more than 4,000 votes will stand. Brown lost in all but one of Carroll's 43 precincts and that win in Hampstead was by one vote.

"The Republican voters were ready for a change, especially within the last two years, when Brown's decisions and public antics were not well-received," said Tregoning, who admitted he was overwhelmed by the margin of his victory.

Brown has yet to congratulate Tregoning, but he has pledged his support.

"He was the people's choice and I respect that; that's life," said Brown. "I had to sell my platform to win. Now, if there is anything I can do to help him out, I will.

"I will even put his sign in front of my house," the sheriff said.

Brown said he will campaign for Tregoning to make sure a Republican wins in November. Tregoning said he would accept that support.

At 69, Brown said he might retire, but he is keeping his options open.

"I am not down and out," Brown said. "I accomplished a lot in my two terms."

He will be removing his personal furniture from his office in the Carroll County Detention Center, before his successor is sworn in Nov. 7, but the rich, dark wallpaper will stay.

Tregoning said he would not be quick to make changes.

"Anytime someone takes over a new job, he diagnoses, analyzes and evaluates, giving people a chance to prove themselves," Tregoning said. "Then he is in a better position to change."

Pub Date: 9/17/98

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